Ueno Park and Odaiba

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For nearly a month now, my afternoons and weekends have been dedicated to exploring my areas of interest throughout the city. I will share two particularly scenic parts of Tokyo that I visited last weekend.

On Saturday I visited Ueno Park, taking the Yamenote Line to the massive Ueno Station. One of many station exits led directly to the park, and in minutes I found myself overlooking urban sprawl. Set in the middle of the city, areas of the park are fairly high up, allowing for a bird’s eye view of Ueno. The park is full of wide paths, making it accessible for joggers, bikers, or children playing. However, calling this space a “park” may be an understatement. The area is also home to art and historical museums, restaurants, children’s rides, and even a zoo.

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The Ueno Zoo was my favorite destination of the day, and admission was a mere 600 yen. The main exhibit was the playfully lazy giant panda, although the zoo also housed a birdhouse, arctic animals, penguins, and everything you would expect to find at a large zoo. Ueno Park was so large that I will need at least another full day to experience everything it has to offer.

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Excited children continuously shouted “Panda-san” (Mr. Panda)

The other area I had the pleasure of visiting this weekend was Odaiba. A good portion of Odaiba’s entertainment center is accessible through high walkways that connect different buildings together, allowing for optimal mobility without the need to cross any busy highways.

One of Odaiba’s main attractions is the Fuji Television building, a twenty-five story complex with several floors set aside for shopping, family activities, and program memorabilia. One floor allows visitors to watch certain television sets from above during filming. While visiting the studio was free, a 500 yen ticket was needed to access an elevator to the 25th floor observatory.

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A ground view of the spherical observatory

The iconic observatory, modeled in the shape of a sphere, offers a visually stunning panoramic view of Odaiba.

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Observatory view of Tokyo Bay

I may have missed the beach and shoreline entirely had I not seen them from the observatory.

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Observatory view of the shore and picnic areas

In addition to the view, the observatory offered another surprise, as it was decorated to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the massively popular anime One Piece, which is broadcast by Fuji TV. Life-size figures, episode screenings and merchandise filled the observatory (not to mention a One Piece-themed restaurant, found on the 7th floor).

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The scene from inside the observatory, decorated to celebrate the 15th season of “One Piece”

Despite being such a crowded, built-up city, Odaiba is very scenic near the bay, where a manmade beach and ferry service attract quite a number of visitors on a sunny day. A long, grassy, tree-lined walkway lines the bay, along with picnic tables, benchers and piers.

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The scenic walkway along the shore

A nearby mall offers a variety of popular stores, including Toys R Us, a Disney Store, restaurants, clothing chains and souvenir shops. At night, colorful lights illuminated the elevated walkways and stairwells. The Fuji Television building then proceeded to display a gigantic moving light show on the side of the building, with flashing colors set to accompanying music.

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The stairs leading up to the 7th floor of Fuji TV light up and change colors after dark

Tokyo is packed with free or inexpensive attractions and scenery to take in, and I’ll surely be returning to both of these hotspots. In the meantime, I will be searching for more exciting areas to share.

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