All About the Giant Panda Family in Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, Japan

A giant panda cub was born in Ueno Zoo, which is one of the most popular places in Tokyo, in June, 2017. Want to see photos? Want to meet them on your trip to Tokyo? This article is all about the giant pandas living in Ueno Zoo and travel advice based on my own experience.

Hope it’ll help you when you encounter them at the zoo!

Shin Shin (Mom)

Shin Shin and Ri Ri came from China to Japan in 2011. There wasn’t any giant panda in Ueno Zoo for some years, so Tokyo locals were so happy to see them.

By the way, how do you think giant pandas are like? If you think they are gentle animals who are always napping, you’ll get surprised to see Shin Shin.

She EATS so much so powerfully!!!

Shin Shin, the Mum Giant Panda in Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, Japan

It’s so fun to see her because she is doing something interesting whenever I go to see her. Even if she is sleeping, she wakes up in 2 hours at the most (from my experience).

I remember the giant panda who used to live in Ueno Zoo when I was 3 or 4 years old. She was old and always sleeping. I didn’t see her moving at all.

On the contrary, Shin Shin is super active! I have seen so many zoo visitors saying, “I had a wrong image about giant pandas!” People think that giant pandas are sweet and quiet animals, so they get surprised at Shin Shin’s energetic actions and attitudes.

I love her, too. After she gave birth, she has been living with her daughter in the following.

Shan Shan (Daughter)

Shan Shan (also, Xiang Xiang) was born in Ueno Zoo on 12 June, 2017. She is definitely a NEW STAR of Ueno Zoo! She has been attracting so many people.

Shan Shan the Giant Panda Cub in Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, Japan (February, 2018)

She has been on display since December, 2017. We had to win an online reservation ticket to see her those days, and I COULDN’T win it! That’s why I had to wait until February.

Shin Shin & Shan Shan, the Giant Panda Family in Ueno Zoo

I really agree with the zoo keepers who explain each giant panda has a different personality from others.

As far as I see it, Shan Shan loves to climb a tree.

She loves to nap, too. Her personality is different from Mom.

She sometimes try to eat as her mom does, but she is too small to be as powerful as Mom. So cute – she’s still childlike!

How Can I See Shan Shan?

From 5 June, 2018, visitors can see her in order of arrival. You just enter the zoo and head for the line of waiting people.

Before June, we needed a panda ticket handed out inside the zoo. For example, this is mine.

But it’s an old story now! We don’t need it any longer. Actually, I had to rewrite this article in a week after I published it – Tokyo is always changing.

I have 3 things to advise you.

First, TURN OFF THE FLASHLIGHT of our cameras. Don’t disturb the pandas.

Second, be careful of heatstroke when you are waiting. As a local independent blogger, I’ve repeatedly emphasized that summer in Tokyo can NEVER be underestimated. I don’t want you get sick on your precious holiday in Tokyo. PLEASE take a hat and some drink to prevent heatstroke.

When you go to the panda house at last, you’ll be in line again and the staff members will guide people. The panda house & garden is separated into 4 or 5 sections, and we have 30 seconds to stop in front of each. 30 SECONDS! So your eyes and camera must be ready before you finally meet them!

To See Shan Shan For Sure

According to my experience, if you enter the zoo just after 9:30 when it opens, you’ll surely see Shin Shin & Shan Shan by noon.

Ueno Zoo is so popular because of Shan Shan, so we queue to enter these days. Some of you feel worried or annoyed, don’t you? I know many people in the world aren’t used to queuing in your country. But you don’t need to worry because it happens so often in Japan! It was nothing for a local (it’s me!) to wait for 20 minutes or some time in front of the zoo entrance gate. Just wait for a while in the line and you CAN enter. In case you are an extreme queue hater, weekdays are better than weekends.

(When the temperature rises to 25 degrees or more, PLEASE be careful of heatstroke. Just wearing a hat makes the situation better. PLEASE avoid bad memories on your precious holiday in Tokyo. Read “Laziness Saves You” – 3 Coolest Indoor Activities & 6 Travel Tips to Spend Hot Summer in Tokyo, Japan)

If you arrive there at noon, I think you are too late to get a ticket for Shan Shan. It depends on the day, but I advise you to go to Ueno Zoo as early as possible.

In conclusion, I advise you to arrive at the zoo entrance before 9:30 if you want to make sure to see Shan Shan.

Ri Ri (Dad)

Even in the worst case you missed Shan Shan, you can see Ri Ri at least! We can see him without any special ticket. Just approach his garden as we do to other animals.

Ri Ri is known to have a milder character than Shin Shin.

Ri Ri napping in the sunshine

See it? People’s sweet images about giant pandas fit him. Although he is more active than the panda in my childhood memory, he is still easygoing.

Ri Ri, the Dad Giant Panda in Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, Japan


Ah…… Not always. He’s sometimes as powerful as Shin Shin…

Anyway, he loves to sit on a high place. He often climb the tree eats and nap there.

He isn’t shy, so I think you’ll find him soon!

In Conclusion

Hope you love this article about the giant panda family in Ueno Zoo. I’d like to end it with 2 things to note.

First, Shan Shan is growing every moment. My photos are taken in February and late March, 2018, so she’s bigger now.

Second, Shan Shan is going to move to China in a few years! She won’t live in Ueno Zoo forever. When she officially leaves Tokyo, I’ll let you know by updating this article and social media channels.

Hope this article will help you. Have a great time with the giant panda family in Ueno!

Helpful Links

Ueno Sightseeing Guide by Tokyo Direct Guide

The Easiest & All-in-One Travel Guide by a local blogger. The main site of Blog Tokyo Direct Diary. More pics of the panda family. Just RENEWED!

Read this article OFFLINE! – Download GPSmyCity App

cf: Ueno Zoo Visitor Information

Opening Hours: 9:30 – 17:00 (Closed on Monday. If Monday is a public holiday, open on Monday and closed on Tuesday.)

Admission Fee: 600 yen for Adult, 200 yen for junior high student (13 – 15 years old), free for children 12 years old or younger.

Ueno Panda Live JP

In my opinion, this is the most interesting website in the world! We can see the live videos of the 3 giant pandas on 9:30 – 17:00 (Tokyo Standard Time. 2:30 – 10:00 in Paris, 17:30 – 1:00 in San Francisco). There are 8 cameras and you can switch them by clicking the numbers.


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