Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Our Trip to Ueno Zoo

Bryan and I both love animals. We decided to take the MWR Tour to Ueno Zoo. Ueno Zoo is located in Tokyo. It is a very nice zoo that is right near Ueno Park, the National Science Museum and the Museum of Western Art.

The bus drops you off across the street from the entrance to the park. Right where it drops you off, there is a small but beautiful Shrine area. The Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom and as you walked through they were all falling softly around you. It is a magical thing and I will miss the blossoms until next year. Have you seen the movie, The Last Samurai? At the end when the Shogun is dying, he see the cherry blossoms gently falling and he says his last words, "Perfect". It is, PERFECT. You can't help but be happy during Cherry Blossom Season.

My other favorite part about this particular shrine was the water purification area. When you go to the shrine you are supposed to purify yourself by washing your hands. They have a tub of water and dippers to pull out the water. This one had a Dragon above it that was dripping water into the tub. It was really cool.

After we took some pictures at the shrine, we headed over to the zoo. You have to walk through Ueno Park to get to the zoo. It was a very busy day there. There were people everywhere soaking in the sunshine and beauty of the day. In the middle of Ueno Park they have a very nice round fountain and a lot of people were there. Around the park, they have lots of trees with stone around them. So, you can take a seat and just enjoy the breeze under the trees. We passed the National Science Museum and it's large locomotive train Engine outside of it, and the Museum of Western Art, which I must go back to visit.

We passed two men juggling with a crowd around them. We saw the interesting looking Koban (Police) station in the Park. I had to take a picture of it. It looked futuristic. We saw a small Children's amusement Park right outside of the zoo.

The zoo entrance fee was not expensive. 600 Yen for me and 200 Yen for Bryan. When we got inside we were delighted to find Western Bathrooms. This is very important for us Foreigners in Japan. I still don't like the squat option and assume I never will! Every tour we go on, we scope out the bathrooms in case we need them in a hurry!

Ueno Zoo did have a giant Panda. She died last year and they have not been able to replace her yet. We saw a lot of things in the park that had Panda's on them. I am sure they are very sad about the Panda dying. They still have the Panda's Habitat there and when we walked through they had made it into a memorial with lots of pictures of the Panda.

If this wasn't sad enough, I saw what I thought was a memorial of sorts. I saw a stand that was completely covered with brightly colored origami cranes all strung together. I have read in several places that children make the crane "ropes" and send them to different memorials. (For Example, the Hiroshima Memorial Park in Hiroshima.) Then there was a granite square with a Big Bow on it. I asked a lady in front of it what it was for. She then told me this: "In 1945 when the city was being heavily bombed, they were very concerned that the zoo animals would escape and cause injury or death to humans. They killed off most of the animals to protect the people. This memorial is for those animals." Oh! My heart ached... Such a sad story! The Japanese people are a remembering people. They do not do things in a mad or blaming way. All the memorials and descriptions I have seen about the war are done in a way that just states they were destroyed in what year and are very matter of fact. They don't EVER say who caused the damage or why. The Japanese remember the people, places, and things that were destroyed like no other culture I have seen.

The zoo was very nicely laid out. It is a good sized zoo, maybe like Zoo Atlanta. They made good use of trees in the park and there are lots of spots to stand for some shade. We saw lots of animals we had seen before and few that we hadn't seen. We only did half of the zoo then we decided to have an ice cream and french fries and head over to the National Science and Natural History Museum.
I was a little surprised that the museum wasn't bigger. They must have others. They did have a floor that had space exploration stuff and the first car engines and other. They had a floor that was all animals that was really cool. I took a lot of pictures because the animals looked SO REAL.
I found this map of North America that was Very Interesting. It was so different than the United States is now. I wonder what date it was created?

Bryan and I really enjoyed our trip to Ueno and we intend to return and finish the zoo, the science museum and the Art museum.

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