Ueno in Tokyo: fashion, culture, and a different environment
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Ueno is in northern Tokyo and it differs from the exquisite and wealthy nature of Ebisu and Ginza. Also, the fashion scene is very different when compared to Harajuku and Shibuya. In truth, Ueno does not feel like modern Tokyo despite many major companies being based in the area.
Ikebukuro, which is the gateway to enter Tokyo from Saitama prefecture is distinctively Tokyo in feeling and atmosphere; but Ueno is a blend of old Tokyo and an energy which can be found in parts of Hong Kong.
Ueno is also very vibrant and at the same time “on the edge” because you have an abundance of cultural places to visit but this is tinged with many homeless people in and around the main park in Ueno.
It certainly feels like the poorer neighbor of fashionable and trendy Omotesando in Tokyo. However, this working feel and “on the edge” nature of Ueno adds to the creativity of many small sized retail companies and the street fashion of Ueno is energetic.
The very nature of Ueno means that people often have a strong comment to say about this part of Tokyo, irrespective if positive or negative. However, Ueno is certainly a must visit for all tourists who will visit Tokyo because it provides its own energy and you have so many cultural places to visit.
My first ever visit to Ueno was an eye opener because I entered a shady area where you had many hostess clubs and women were tottering up and down in very sexy clothing. This was followed by a visit to one of the many museums and then enjoying a walk in the park which had many beautiful views alongside images of many homeless people.
This fusion can be seen in the fashion of Ueno because despite having high quality fashion stores within the environment of Ueno station. The real feel is street fashion and women are free from the high octane nature and pressure of Ebisu where wealth is visibly on show; irrespective if the individual is wealthy or not.
The Ameyokocho bazaar is very large and it caters for so many different products and this part of Ueno is certainly distinctive from the usual images of high fashion or powerful department stores which dominate throughout Tokyo.
Marui and other major department stores are now based in Ueno and major redevelopment is in full swing. Therefore, parts of Ueno may succumb to the usual features of all major areas in Tokyo. However, the Ameyokocho bazaar, small retail companies, and shady parts of Ueno; means that this will add to the diverse nature of Ueno but in the near future it will not be able to destroy the unique atmosphere of this part of Tokyo.
If you love culture then Ueno can provide this in abundance and you have many museums and galleries to visit which are based mainly in the Ueno park area.
Tokyo National Museum boasts the most potent collection of Japanese art in the world and the exhibits on show will please all people who are interested in Japanese art, culture, and history.
If you are interested in Buddhism then a visit to the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures is a must. In contrast to the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures you have the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art which focuses on contemporary art.
Other popular places to visit include the National Science Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, Shitamachi History Museum, Tosho-gu-Shrine, Iwasaki Family House, Yushima Tenjin, Ueno zoo, and seeing the statue of Saigo Takamori who was a samurai in old Japan who practiced ritual suicide.
Ueno is certainly worth a visit if either you are a tourist to Japan or a Japanese national from outside of Tokyo. Of course many Tokyoites or people from Chiba or Saitama areas close to Ueno may also revere this part of Tokyo because of its rich diversity.
The street fashion of Ueno is strong despite recent developments which have brought trendy Marui and Arte to Ueno. Therefore, Ueno now offers a broad array of fashion with more elegant and exquisite brands opening up for business but the street scene of Ueno remains vibrant.
At night the shady areas light up to the throngs of the sexual side of Tokyo and the “on edge” nature of Ueno adds to the vibrancy and energy of this most distinctive part of Tokyo.
http://www.tokyoessentials.com/ueno.html (about Ueno)
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/tokyo/ueno.html (info about Ueno)
http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)