First we stopped through Ueno Park to enjoy the budding blossoms with the locals. Serene.
Kitties! In a tree. With fancy collars. We had no explanation for this, but everyone was taking their picture, so obviously they were kind of a big deal.
Actually, cats cause frenzied photo-taking all over Japan. Everyone was lined up snapping shots on their cell phones. No idea why. But we didn't feel too silly by joining in.
Walk a few blocks down the street and you'll find the bustling shopping district of Ueno. It's an odd feeling to leave a beautiful park and find yourself in a maze of people, restaurants, and discount t-shirt stores. But, thus is Tokyo.
Had I known beforehand that Ueno is where the cheap shopping was, maybe I would have spent more time considering. Not that I was specifically looking to do cheap shopping, but in retrospect, I might have found a thing or two. They had a bunch of silk-stitched Japanese souvenir jackets there, with images on them of dragons and tigers and pandas, but in an extreme, ridiculous sort of way. There were jackets with sushi on them, and war gods. There was one that said "Alaska: The Last Frontier." There was also a Casper and Wendy jacket with Hawaii written on it. Whaaaa...?? We joked that we should each get a travel-buddy team jacket. By the end of our trip I had decided that I needed a cheapo-ironic dragon or panda jacket to wear back home. However, when I started looking at them outside of Ueno I discovered that these jackets were neither cheap nor ironic. Souvenir jackets are apparently serious business, and cost over $300. Oh well. Next time.