Japan Day 7: Visiting the zoo in the middle of a typhoon!

This post was supposed to go up a week or two ago, but then Hurricane Sandy hit. While I’m on the west coast, and not directly affected by the storm, I felt like it would be a bit insensitive to be posting about a fairly minor typhoon in Japan while everyone on the east coast was dealing with the Hurricane.

The TED blog has a great post about ways you can help those who were affected by the hurricane. There are lots of people who still need our help, so if you can, I’m sure they’d appreciate any donation, no matter how little.

Walking to the Ueno Zoo

Our seventh day in Japan was a rainy one. Or, more specifically, a typhoon-y one.

Map inside entrance to Ueno Zoo

So of course we decided to go to the zoo.

Sleepy panda bear

We met our newfound best friend Kate at Ueno station, and then headed over to Ueno Park to visit the zoo there.

Thai Pavillion inside Ueno Zoo

(It’s about 600 yen per person to get into the zoo.)

Thai Pavillion inside Ueno Zoo

We had a lot of fun walking through the zoo and seeing all the animals they had there.

Elephant trying to eat the leaves


Life-size baby elephant picture



Black bear hanging on a tire swing

Snowy owl




Prarie dog

Prarie dog

Spider monkeys

Marsh in the zoo

But, like I said, a typhoon was expected that day, so periodically pre-typhoon winds and rains would send us looking for shelter.

Marsh in the zoo

Marsh in the zoo

On one such occasion, we took shelter in a covered eating area, and decided this would be a good time to stop and eat something.

Pancake box

Kate brought us peanut senbei, which were ridiculously good.

Senbei box


Then Son and I shared pancakes that had a maple syrup filling, and came with squeezable blueberry jam. It was really good, for zoo food, and only cost 300 yen.


Rachael got each of her girls a karaage (Japanese fried chicken) kids meal.

Bug eating karaage and fries

Blueberry jam container

Squeezing blueberry jam on the pancakes

Pancake with jam on it

Rachael taking a picture, Kate eating

Squirrel eating, Allison smiling

On top of the senbei, Kate also brought us yaki imo that she had baked for us. That’s serious comfort food right there.

Yaki imo

Son and I also got an energy drink, which was actually pretty darn good (I’m not usually a fan of energy drinks, but the Japanese ones are much better than most that you can find here in the US.)

Energy drink

Map inside the zoo

Peanut senbei

Buildings by the zoo

Marsh inside the zoo

Jackass penguins

Jackass penguins



Ring-tailed something



Nocturnal animal with big eyes

Nocturnal animal with big eyes


Allison with a penguin picture

On our way out of the zoo, we walked through a little temple known as Fox Temple.

Fox temple

Bread desserts?

Leaving Ueno Park


Candy street

We then walked through a street known as Candy Street. Rachael said there used to be a food vendor there that she wanted us to try, but unfortunately she was unable to find it.

Fruit display on candy street

Candy street

Candy street

We headed back to our hotel to rest a bit before dinner (and eat a little more of a lunch).

Spicy onigiri

Son got a “spicy” onigiri (which he said was hardly spicy at all), and I had coffee and a salad.



Allison with the melon pastry

We shared a melon-flavored cookie sort of pastry filled with custard. It was pretty good! Son wanted to go right back and get another.

Melon pastry

Inside of melon pastry

After we rested up, Son and I spent a little time browsing a little bookstore kiosk downstairs in the train station before we were to meet Rachael and her family.

Then we took a train to Tsukishima to meet with Keizo for dinner.

Ginger ale

Keizo took us all to a monjayaki place.

Workers at the monja place

Monja is kind of like okonomiyaki, but with a runnier batter. I believe it’s like the Tokyo version of okonomiyaki.

Monja ingredients

The place where he took us was in the middle of a street that consisted of nothing but monja restaurants.

Corn with butter


Monja ingredients

Making monja

Making okonomiyaki


This place reminded me of a lot of KBBQ places here in LA, in that you have a griddle and cook your own food. However, since my side of the table had no idea what we were doing, the employees and Keizo luckily were happy to help us out.

One of the employees making the food


Outside of the monja place

An alley near the monja place

The typhoon is coming in

By the time we got out, the typhoon was definitely getting stronger. Rachael and her family headed back to their hotel (it was getting late), but as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, Son was still hungry.

If you’ve read Keizo’s blog, you’ll know that the guy eats a ridiculous amount of ramen. He had planned to go grab a bowl before going home anyways, so he let us tag along to the nearby Tsukishima Rock.

Tsukishima Rock menu

Menu chalkboard inside Tsukishima Rock

Businessman at the bar in Tsukishima Rock

Beer tap

View outside from inside Tsukishima Rock


Keizo’s friend got the tsukemen.


Keizo tried their shio ramen.

Shio ramen

Shoyu ramen

And Son got their shoyu ramen.

Shoyu ramen

And then it was a sprint in the strong winds and heavy rain back to the train station, to head back to our hotel and listen to the typhoon come in.

It was supposed to be at its worst around midnight, which meant we didn’t get much sleep that night.. we were too busy listening to our hotel (we were on the 28th floor) creak in the wind and get pounded by rain!

Typhoon on the news