Take a few seconds to look at this abandoned, art-filled station as you pass by on the subway to Ueno.
Tokyo’s Ueno district is a popular tourist spot known for its zoo, museums, Buddhist temples and open-air market. To serve travelers visiting the area, Hakubutsukan-Dōbutsuen (meaning “Museum-Zoo”) Station opened in 1933, located on the edge of Ueno Park.
The station had two aboveground exits. One of them, located near the Tokyo National Museum, was designed by the architect Shunji Nakagawa in a Western style resembling the National Diet Building. The other was built next to the Ueno Zoo, but closed in 1966 following the opening of the zoo’s new entrance. It was then turned into a storage facility for the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
Even during its days of operation, the station was dark and dusty with a haikyo (abandoned building)-like ambience. Its platform was narrow, and its bare concrete walls were eventually covered all over with illicit art. A few pieces of such graffiti, including those of penguins and an elephant—which are said to have been drawn by a student of the nearby Tokyo University of the Arts—have became the station’s icons of sorts.
The decrepit state of the station and the constant decline in passengers (less than 250 people getting off at the station per day) led to its suspension of service in 1997, followed by its abandonment seven years later. It was renovated as a museum space and reopened for a limited time in 2018, with a new, Alice in Wonderland-esque art installation of a giant rabbit introduced to it, and there were brief openings in 2019 and 2020 as well.
Today, you can take the Keisei Line train to take a look at the abandoned station’s platform for a few seconds as it enters a tunnel, the eerily-lit white rabbit sculpture still standing inside.
Know Before You Go
The platform can be viewed on the Keisei Line subway, between Nippori and Ueno. When going from Nippori to Ueno, it will appear on the left, almost as soon as the train enters a tunnel. It is not accessible even when the station is open to the public.
It is not known when it will reopen again, but when it does, be sure to book in advance (if possible) or get there early, as tickets could sell out fast.
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