It was about 2pm before we left the flat today, we allowed ourselves a lie in following last night’s karaoke and cocktails, plus we knew we had some tiring days ahead. We picked up some lunch from our local bakery and took it to Ueno Park( JR line from Shinjuku towards Ikebukuro, this took about 25 mins). Whilst sat eating in the park we did a quick Google search of where the Bunny Cafe I’d read about was and then the Pokemon center, they both turned out to be in the same area, Ikebukuro so turns out we’d acidentally managed to group all this stuff together.
I can only imagine how stunning this park is during Sakura season, it’s a large park with no shortage of little shrines, temples, museums and a zoo home to pandas (we didn’t visit the zoo).
The first thing we came across was Great Buddha Hill (Daibutsu), apparently there once stood two huge bronze buddha statues in the park, but due to earthquakes and war only the face of one remains. By this point we have noticed how people pray, they tend to bow, clap twice, bow again whilst we assume asking a God for something.
Following some torii gates forming a vermillion tunnel we found another small shrine called Gojōten Jinja which was pretty cute.
I did yet another fortune by putting some coins in this machine, the dragon proceeded to do a lil dance before pulling a fortune for me.
Walking down from the temple we found a huge lake, which initially didn’t look like a lake, more like a forest of lily pads… the tallest lily pads I’ve ever seen.
It’s quite surreal being in such a peaceful park but still being able to see the city buildings, I guess a bit like Central Park, but even more peaceful.
The Main Shinto Shine in the Park is Ueno Tōshō-gū, which is lavishly decorated in gold, something my photo really didn’t do justice of. There’s also a huge peony garden down here, but it wasn’t open for us (a quick Google informs me it’s only open Jan-Feb, worth checking out if you’re around in those months).
In the grounds of this Shrine there’s also 50 giant metal lanterns (a few featured in the above photo) which are apparently only lit at religious celebrations, I bet that’s an amazing sight to see.
At this Shrine they had little animal fortunes, you paid your donation and just pulled at random from a large jar. I pulled out a tiny golden frog which will bring me luck on my travels and always see I get home safely, quite a cute trinket to hold on to.
Walking back towards the park we take a closer look at this stone tribute, inside the metal bird you can see a small candle flame, it turns out it was a flame from the first atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima. Tatsuo Yamamoto went back to Hiroshima some time after the bomb hit in search of his uncle and he found the flame of the bomb still burning at his uncles house. He brought it back home as a tribute to his uncle but as the years passed and it kept burning it became a symbol of peace, hoping that we can live in a world without atomic weapons.
Pagoda of Kan’ei-ji.
Leaving the park we pass a small childrens fair and the entrance to the zoo, with these cute bush sculptures.
Japan is pretty well known for it’s animal cafe craze, and being the bunny lover I am, Lauren let me indulge this bucket list indulgence. We hopped back on the JR to Ikebukuro (15 mins) to found Mimi’s Bunny Cafe. I’d read a lot of reviews about which cafes are the better options and this was the one that let you hang out with the most bunnies at once. It was only a 5 minute walk from the station, but was a little bit hard to see as it was the 3rd floor of a building and not heavily advertised.
We arrived at Mimi’s and we had the whole cafe to ourselves, we take off our shoes (they give you crocs), sanitise our hands and put on aprons before heading in the enclosures. We’re given cups of food for our bunny pals and drinks of our choice before just being left to smush these adorable lil creatures whilst listening to disney piano lullabies. Yep, dreams come true haha. Halfway through some more visitors came so we moved on to hang with a second group of buns.
After the cafe we grab some food at Kua Aina, a delish Hawaiin burger chain in Sunshine City before finding the Pokemon Center. We find the store and I won’t lie, it still bothers me that the giant ball and the signage isn’t aligned… The giant Pokeball changes to show different pokemon inside.
If you’ve been a Pokemon fan once in your life this place is a souvenir mecca. Organised by Pokemon, you can literally find anything and everything featuring the familiar faces.
Needless to say, you’ve probably never seen so many Pikachu’s in one place. I massively regret not leaving with a Pikachu kigu (onesie).
On the way back to the station we nipped in the multistory Sega arcade for another daily Purikura photo. It was about 20 mins on the JR line back to Shinjuku, where we tried to have an early night as tomorrow was DISNEYLAND DAY.