Imperial Palace, Ramen, and Ueno Park

After the Tsukiji Fish Market, we made our way over to the Imperial Palace.

Imperial Palace

Sakurada-mon Gate

I insisted that we go through the Sakurada-mon Gate – one of the only original buildings at the Imperial Palace.  It was built in 1457 and has with-stood earthquakes, fires, air raids, etc, and was magnificent.  It leads you into the Imperial Palace Plaza, where joggers like to run around and where tour groups meet at the gate where you can see the Palace.  The gate, apparently, never opens so you just stand there looking at the Palace.  From there, we wandered our way to the entrance gate and then through the gardens, which will be beautiful in the spring.

And here, I must talk about the toilets.  I’m not kidding – the toilets here are outrageous.  The “Western style” ones are a conglomeration of toilet, bidet, and noisemaker, with various buttons that do all kinds of things, and some even have heated seats.  The toilets at the Imperial Palace are not Western ones – at least in the ladies room.  They are high-tech holes in the floor – and by high-tech I mean they flush and there’s a rail in front of you to hang on to so you don’t fall over.  It was quite a shock so yes, I took a picture.

A “Toilet”

After the Imperial Palace, we walked all the way up to Ueno Park.  It was a deceivingly long walk too.  Surrounding the park there are streets of small shops and restaurants specializing in…RAMEN!  I was in heaven.  We stopped in one and got our first REAL ramen!  It was glorious and delicious and wonderful.

My first real ramen

Once satisfied, we entered Ueno Park, which has a lake (that doesn’t really look like a lake because it’s overgrown with large brown water plants), a temple, a zoo, various restaurants, a small children’s amusement park, and lots of street performers.  There were acrobats twisting themselves in ways the human body is not supposed to bend, a Peruvian band playing Incan style music (weird, I know, in Japan) and there was even a Japanese little league game going on (there’s a baseball field in the middle of the park).

Acrobats in Ueno Park

The park ends at the Tokyo National Museum, which houses Japanese heritage artifacts (like samurai swords and armor and various prints and bowls).  The architecture of the building is actually far more impressive than what the building houses, so it was a bit of a disappointment.  BUT the Japanese recognize William and Mary student IDs so we got a discounted entrance.  Cha-ching!

Too many pictures for the post so look at the gallery below!

One Response to “Imperial Palace, Ramen, and Ueno Park”
  1. Julie Monster says:

    I have to comment on the Ramen…. the REAL Ramen. I can’t even imagine how excited you must have been, considering how much you eat… at this point your body is about 80% Ramen noodles. that is all. looks like you are having funnnnn!

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