The very popular giant panda is a must-see
Ueno Zoo is Japan’s first zoo established in 1882. It suffered a sad past during the Second World War with the disposal of animals, but it has become a zoo that has fulfilled a role as a valuable place where a variety of the world’s animals can be seen as a longtime living zoo. And in commemoration of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, the first generation of giant pandas, Kang Kang and Lan Lan arrived in Japan in 1972. Ueno Zoo is the first zoo in Japan to raise giant pandas, and it is also the facility with the longest experience in raising them. Furthermore, it is the first place in Japan to have successfully bred pandas. The zoo was without a panda for 3 years following the passing of Ling Ling in 2008, but as of 2015, 2 pandas by the names of Ri Ri and Shin Shin are currently living at the zoo.
Various animals in the East and West Gardens
The large zoo is separated into the East Garden and West Garden. It is of course possible to walk back and forth between the two areas, but it is also suggested to move about using Japan’s first monorail, the Ueno Zoo Monorail. In the East Garden, along with the giant pandas, you can also come across monkeys, gorillas, elephants, tigers, bears, seals and other animals within the forest. Also, there are native Japanese animals such as the Hokkaido sika deer and the Japanese wild goat. Aside from the animals, though, there are also historic buildings of note including the nationally-designated Important Cultural Property of the five-story pagoda of Kanei-ji Temple, Kankan-tei, Kyu-Seimon which was considered to be the Japanese version of Versailles architecture in the early half of the 20th century, and the first monkey mountain to be built in Japan. In the West Garden, there are animals from Africa such as giraffes, hippos and aye-ayes, displays of the smaller animals, and even the Children’s Zoo where animals can be touched. Daily from 11am, there is a 45-minute guided tour which can be joined for free. The meeting place for the tour is the red sign next to the panda house.