Ueno Park

Tokyo – Ikebukuro and Ueno

No matter where you are in the world, unexpected adventures are always a good thing. Such was the case with last weekend’s day trip, our first into Tokyo.

We planned to stop first in Ikebukero, a district in west Tokyo, to find a Taiwanese restaurant that specialized in vegetarian dishes. We’re still traveling without smartphones, so all we had to go off was some loose directions from a website and the city maps at the Ikebukuro train station.

We started walking and, within a couple blocks, stumbled upon a festival celebrating Taiwan and its heritage. There were even inflatable replicas of yours truly!


Which one is real and which one is inflatable?

We looked at a couple vendor stands, listened briefly to what must have been the opening address and then headed out in search of our restaurant.

As with many of these uncharted trips, we didn’t reach our destination. We’ve yet to figure out the street numbering convention. At present, I’m convinced it’s the worst way to identify addresses in the known universe. Check back in a couple months and maybe I’ll have a better attitude.

Fortunately, the festival had two booths serving exactly what we were in search of: Taiwanese vegetarian food! And even better, we finally found vegetarian gyoza! Those little pan fried, stuffed dumplings are so good, but usually so filled with pork. It was easily the best purchased meal I’ve had since we’ve arrived in Japan.


Taiwanese lunch

The festival also featured some amazing entertainment. All performed by young people, it was impossible to take your eyes off the stage.

A group of pre-teens pounded out the beautiful rhythm of taiko drums.


Taiko drummers

These young men and women put on an exciting display of dragon wizardry.


Dancing dragon

These beautiful young ladies entranced the crowd with their choreographed dance.


Dancing queens

At the end of the show, we headed back to the station and caught the next train to Ueno Park to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. You can read Viktoria’s post on the magic of sakura and the geisha picnic.

We took a lap around Shinobazu Pond, where children of all ages peddled and rowed their way in rowboats, paddleboats, and swan boats.


Driving age is two in Ikebukuro

We’ll definitely be back to Ueno Park to visit the National Museum and some of the other sights in the area.


  • Reply Jerry Haddan April 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Your camera is doing a good job.

    • Reply Robert April 10, 2014 at 11:31 am

      It certainly isn’t the photographer in my case! Instead of point-and-shoot, it’s point-and-pray!

  • Reply Deni April 8, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Loving your posts and pics.

  • Reply Cyndi Miller April 10, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Great message! You ended up where you wanted to be even if it wasn’t where you intended.

    • Reply Robert April 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Exactly! Well said!

  • Reply Amy Daraghy April 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks, now I’m hungry for gyoza! Sans pork, if you please!

  • Reply Plum Rain | Cascadian Abroad June 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    […] in another bit of serendipity, we ended up near another restaurant we’d been wanting to try, but was closed on our first […]

  • Reply Things We Eat: Dining Out Edition | Cascadian Abroad July 1, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    […] owner, I’m quite certain, sold us the veggie gyoza at the Taiwan Festival we attended in our first week in Japan. Her first question was “Are you vegetarian?” […]

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