I’m riding the Tokyo subway, carrying a giant robot toy that I had purchased for my son’s upcoming birthday, and listening to The Dickies cover of the Gigantor theme. This was one of those moments that simply couldn’t be had any other way.
Getting off the subway at the station closest to Ueno Park, we see another major shopping district. This one is a bit different than many of the others in that it is an “open air” market with many stalls that are temporary, so you never really know who will be here one day to the next. Sure, there are some permanent fixtures, but the overall feel was that half of these vendors were operating out of the back of their truck – though legitimately, this wasn’t merchandise that they “found” or anything like that.
We wander around the stalls checking things out, then head over to Ueno Park. Because the weather has been cold, the cherry blossoms are not all in full bloom yet, but what we do get to see is quite beautiful. With this large park, as there are in many others, there is a shrine, and since this is festival season, there’s a crowd, and with the crowd comes the booths.
We spent a considerable time wandering the park admiring the cherry blossoms and people watching. One of the big things to do is to go and picnic under the blossoms. People were camped out with tarps on the ground and their baskets of food or whatever. There were individuals, families, groups of friends or businessmen, it doesn’t matter, the thing to do in Japan right now is celebrate the arrival of Spring, marked by the cherry blossoms.
After this we headed back to the market area, checked out some more of that, and sat down to have coffee, rest, as well as to see what we were going to do next. I read in my guidebook about what was in the area, and discovered that there really wasn’t much in the immediate area, but a couple of subway stops away was a temple that was over 1,000 years old. It sounds interesting, and even though we had already been to a major temple that morning as well as visited the shrine in Ueno Park, we decided to go. While checking out how to get there, it dawns on us that it was the same temple that we had visited earlier.
We decided not to go.
Instead we checked out more of the market and stopped by one of the Japanese style bars that opens up after about 5 or 6 where most of the seats are outside and tables are made up of a couple of crates staked up with a board on top. A couple of beers later we head back to where we are staying and end the night. It was crowded, and it really felt like the Ueno Park district was a happening place on a Friday night.