Ueno is home to a large park (Uenoonshi) where street artists entertain the crowds. It’s also where you can find many different museums. It was a rainy day, so I visited the Tokyo National Museum (ticket Y620), which has a great collection of Japanese artefacts.
In the same park is also the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, which hosts a range of free and paid modern and contemporary art exhibitions. I visited a calligraphy one which was interesting.
Near Ueno station is Ameya Yokocho, a pedestrianised market street where stalls sell lots of food and souvenirs. It’s a lively area and good for a walk.
Not far from Ueno, Akihabara (also known as Electric Town or Akiba) is a paradise for anime and electronics fans (I am neither). It’s a weird area full of girls dressed as maids inviting you to one of the many maid cafes around (I don’t think so) and buildings covered with manga on the walls.
There are lots of electronics shops, such as the massive Yodobashi, selling all sorts of stuff.
One fun thing to do around Akiba is going to an arcade (there are many around). You can play new and old video games (I played Super Mario World), try your luck in a prize machine to get a plush toy or manga-ify yourself getting decorated photo stickers. It’s a fun thing to do for a couple of hours.
Not far from Ueno is Yanaka, an area off the beaten path which is most interesting because it’s one of the few areas of Tokyo which weren’t destroyed in the war. The place has a completely different feel from most of the city, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Yanaka Ginza is the main street, with lots of little shops and bars.
It was dark when I crossed the Sumida river over to Asakusa, and I got amazing views of the Skytree, Asahi Beer Hall and a full moon.
Straightaway I knew Asakusa would be just my kind of place – lots of traditional-looking streets with little shops selling food, handicraft and souvenirs. The place is full of life and you can easily spend hours losing yourself and taking it all in.
Nearby is the impressive Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple. The place is really impressive, and it was great seeing it at night with all the lights on, even if it was already shut. You can get your fortune for Y100, which is a fun thing to do.
I decided to go back and explore some more during the day, and it was also great. The area gets really busy, as there are lots of shops and food stalls around, but it’s fast-moving and not too crowded. I tried itayaki (Y154), which is a pancake shaped as a fish with a sweet filling (the traditional one is red bean paste, but I chose custard instead).
Senso-ji Temple is also busier during the day, but there’s more to see as everything is open.