Ueno or Asakusa: Which is better to stay in 2024?

Ueno and Asakusa top the list when it comes to vacationing in Tokyo with a classical and historical yet vibrant atmosphere. However, visiting these districts is often overwhelming to tourists who don’t have friends and family who already know the best attractions.

I have lived near Ueno before and have visited Asakusa for a numerous times. As a local, here is a guide on deciding whether to stay in Ueno or Asakusa, both of which are historical places in Tokyo in 2024.

If you don’t have time to read:

Ueno has interconnected train stations that best suits families, first-time Tokyo visitors, and nature lovers. It has Ueno Park which is one of the most famous parks for cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. Asakusa best suits budget travelers as well as Japanese culture lovers because its main attractions are temples and the feel of old Japan. Couples would also enjoy staying in Asakusa for witnessing people dressed in Kimono (traditional Japanese dress).

Although staying as a family is better in Ginza than Ueno, compared to Ginza, Ueno is a more affordable option.

5 pictures of Tokyo with the upper side highlighting attractions in Ueno (pink cherry blossoms, lively market, and orange tori gates) and Asakusa on the lower side highlighting Tokyo tower in the left and Asakusa temple in the right
Ueno or Tokyo – Place to Stay

Actually, Ueno and Asakusa are just 10-minute away by train. Although quite close, you can see in our map below that Ueno has direct access to most of the major tourist attractions.

Tourist Map of Tokyo

Staying in Ueno or Asakusa?

Ueno: Ideal for Families, First-Time Visitors, and Nature Lovers

Ueno Temple
  • Interconnected Train Stations: Ueno boasts interconnected train stations, making it an excellent choice for families and first-time Tokyo visitors who prioritize convenience and accessibility. With easy access to various parts of the city, navigating Tokyo from Ueno is hassle-free.
  • Ueno Park: Home to one of Tokyo’s most famous parks, Ueno Park is a haven for nature lovers, particularly during cherry blossom season and autumn foliage. Families will appreciate the park’s wide-open spaces, playgrounds, and tranquil ponds, offering a serene retreat amidst the urban bustle.
  • Family-Friendly Dining: Ueno offers a diverse array of dining options suitable for families traveling with kids and seniors. From cozy cafes serving comfort food to kid-friendly eateries offering a variety of cuisines, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Additionally, the area around Ueno Station features numerous food stalls and casual dining spots, making it convenient for families on the go.
  • Activities for Kids and Seniors: Families traveling with kids and seniors will find plenty of attractions and activities to enjoy in Ueno. In addition to Ueno Park’s playgrounds and scenic walks, the area is home to several family-friendly museums and attractions, such as Ueno Zoo and Tokyo National Museum. Seniors can also appreciate the park’s serene ambiance and cultural landmarks, making it an enjoyable destination for multigenerational travel.

We highly recommend staying at Mimaru Ueno East which has interconnecting rooms for families, as well as Pokemon-themed rooms which are great when traveling with kids and young teenagers.

Our Ueno Hotel Pick

Mimaru Hotel Ueno

Price starts at $350 for a family room. It is 3 minutes by foot from Iriya Exit of Ueno Station.

Other more affordable place to stay in Ueno is the APA Hotel Ueno Ekimae – they have a wet area in their hotel which you can experience Japanese culture.

Asakusa: Perfect for Budget Travelers and Japanese Culture Enthusiasts

  • Budget-Friendly Accommodations: Asakusa is an ideal destination for budget-conscious travelers seeking affordable accommodation options without compromising on location or amenities. The district offers a range of budget-friendly hotels, hostels, and guesthouses, making it a budget traveler’s paradise.
  • Cultural Attractions: Asakusa’s main attractions revolve around Japanese culture, particularly its historic temples and traditional architecture. Culture enthusiasts will delight in exploring Senso-ji Temple, Nakamise Shopping Street, and other iconic landmarks, immersing themselves in the rich heritage of old Japan.
  • Kimono Experience: Couples seeking a romantic and culturally immersive experience will find Asakusa particularly enchanting. The district’s charm is enhanced by the sight of visitors dressed in kimono, adding to the nostalgic ambiance and providing a unique backdrop for memorable moments together.
  • Diverse Food Scene: Asakusa offers a diverse culinary scene, with plenty of options to satisfy every taste and budget. From street food vendors serving up local delicacies to cozy izakayas offering traditional Japanese fare, there’s no shortage of dining experiences to explore. Families traveling with kids will appreciate the variety of kid-friendly dining options available, while seniors can enjoy leisurely meals at relaxed eateries with scenic views of the Asakusa neighborhood.

If you want to stay in Asakusa, Hotel Keihan Asakusa has more affordable options than that of Ueno hotels, plus some rooms have good view of Tokyo Skytree.

Ultimately, whether you choose to stay in Ueno or Asakusa depends on your travel priorities and interests. Ueno offers convenience, family-friendly attractions, and natural beauty, while Asakusa provides budget-friendly accommodations, cultural immersion, and a glimpse into Japan’s rich history. My personal preference and recommendation is to stay in Ueno because I love the balance of Ueno’s accessibility to major attractions and it is not busy as compared to Shinjuku and Shibuya.

Ueno or Asakusa: Best Spots to Visit

If you are coming to Tokyo for cherry blossom “sakura” or autumn, then Ueno should definitely be your choice. Ueno Park is one of the most beautiful parks to visit in Tokyo for spring or autumn. I can attest to that after visiting so many places in Japan.

Best Attractions in Ueno

Ueno, located in the northeastern part of Tokyo, is a district renowned for its rich cultural heritage and abundance of green spaces. Here are some highlights of what Ueno has to offer:

Tourist Spots in Ueno
Ueno Park (Including Ueno Toshogu Shrine and Shinobazu Pond)
Ameyoko Shopping Market
Tokyo National Museum

  1. Ueno Park: Spanning over 133 acres, Ueno Park is one of Tokyo’s largest and most popular parks. It is home to various attractions, including:
    • Tokyo National Museum: The largest museum in Japan, showcasing an extensive collection of Japanese art and artifacts.
    • Ueno Zoo: Japan’s oldest zoo, housing over 3,000 animals from around the world.
    • Shinobazu Pond: A serene oasis within the park, known for its lotus flowers and scenic beauty.
  2. Cultural Institutions: Ueno is dotted with numerous museums and galleries, offering visitors a glimpse into Japan’s rich cultural heritage. Besides the Tokyo National Museum, other notable institutions include the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and the Shitamachi Museum.
  3. Ameyoko Market: Situated near Ueno Station, Ameyoko Market is a bustling shopping street known for its vibrant atmosphere and diverse range of products. Visitors can find everything from fresh seafood and produce to clothing, accessories, and electronics.
  4. Historic Temples and Shrines: Ueno is home to several historic temples and shrines, providing insight into Japan’s religious traditions. Notable sites include the Kaneiji Temple, Bentendo Temple, and Ueno Toshogu Shrine.

Best Attractions in Asakusa

Similar to Ueno, Asakusa is located in the northeastern part of Tokyo. It one of the city’s most iconic and historically significant districts. Here are some of the highlights of what Asakusa has to offer:

Tourist Spots in Asakusa
Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Shrine
Tokyo Skytree
Nakamise Dori

  1. Senso-ji Temple: Asakusa is best known for Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest and most famous Buddhist temple. The temple’s main hall, adorned with intricate artwork and statues, is a testament to Japan’s rich religious heritage. Visitors can also explore Nakamise Shopping Street, lined with traditional stalls selling souvenirs, snacks, and crafts.
  2. Sumida River Cruises: Asakusa offers the opportunity to take a leisurely cruise along the Sumida River, providing panoramic views of Tokyo’s skyline and iconic landmarks such as the Tokyo Skytree and Rainbow Bridge.
  3. Traditional Performing Arts: Asakusa is a hub for traditional Japanese performing arts, including rakugo (comic storytelling), kabuki theater, and traditional music performances. Visitors can experience these cultural traditions at venues such as Asakusa Engei Hall and the Asakusa Kokaido Theater.
  4. Eating and Drinking: Asakusa boasts a wide array of dining options, ranging from street food stalls serving local delicacies like tempura and sushi to upscale restaurants offering traditional Japanese cuisine. Visitors can also sample regional specialties such as monjayaki (savory pancake) and ningyo-yaki (sweet cakes shaped like dolls).

Ueno or Asakusa for Transportation and Accessibility

Ueno is clearly way more accessible than Asakusa. It has 10 train lines compared to Asakusa’s 3 train lines. For your reference, we have also laid down in the table below the transportation times to the major attractions for Ueno or Asakusa:

As you can see, Ueno has very good accessibility to Tokyo’s major attractions compared to Asakusa. The only accessibility advantage of Asakusa over Ueno is the airport access, as Asakusa has both direct access to Haneda and Narita Airports. Ueno also has direct access to Narita Airport (using the bullet train “shinkansen”) but when going to Haneda, there is one transfer of train line.

Wrap Up

Deciding between staying in Ueno or Asakusa ultimately boils down to understanding your travel priorities and preferences. Each district offers its own unique blend of attractions, accommodations, and dining options, catering to different types of travelers.

If you’re traveling with family, Ueno’s interconnected train stations, family-friendly dining options, and abundance of green spaces make it an ideal choice for a comfortable and convenient stay. Exploring Ueno Park’s natural beauty and visiting family-friendly attractions like Ueno Zoo and Tokyo National Museum will create lasting memories for both kids and seniors alike.

On the other hand, Asakusa’s budget-friendly accommodations, rich cultural heritage, and diverse food scene make it a top pick for budget travelers and Japanese culture enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in the district’s historic temples, stroll along Nakamise Shopping Street, and savor the flavors of traditional Japanese cuisine for a truly authentic experience.

Whether you’re drawn to Ueno’s family-friendly ambiance or Asakusa’s nostalgic charm, rest assured that both districts offer a warm welcome and unforgettable experiences in the heart of Tokyo. So, pack your bags, choose your Tokyo home wisely, and get ready to embark on an adventure filled with discovery, culture, and endless delights in this vibrant metropolis.

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