Tokyo: Ueno Park celebrates 50th anniversary since pandas first arrived in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A giant panda balloon at Ueno Park, Tokyo, commemorates the arrival of the first pandas to Japan 50 years ago.

A panda festival started in Ueno Park in Taito Ward, Tokyo, on Wednesday.

The event, called Ueno Panda Festa, is organized by the Ueno Tourism Federation and commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first giant panda arriving in Japan.

Visitors are welcomed by a panda balloon about 5 meters tall at the entrance of the park near JR Ueno Station. The balloon was newly created for the event, based on the balloon that adorned Ueno Zoo 50 years ago when the first pair of pandas, Kang Kang and Lan Lan, came to the zoo. On Wednesday, panda fans and families stopped in front of the balloon and took photos of it.

The event features a giant display of images of pandas kept at the zoo in the past. People formed long lines in front of shop stalls to purchase souvenirs, such as T-shirts, mugs and stamps bearing illustrations of pandas.

The event will continue through Sunday.