There are so many things to do in Tokyo that can burn a whole in your wallet. As frequent former resident, frequent visitor, and a lover of my own money, here are 10 things you can do in Tokyo for free. Enjoy, and use your savings to get out of Tokyo and experience the rest of Japan
Many people dream of traveling to Japan and experiencing this unique island first hand. Culture, history, technology, fashion and food blend together in an unforgettable experience that not only rewards the intrepid traveler but has fueled pop culture around the world for decades. Japan has taken on a somewhat mythical persona as it highlights its cultural differences to the outside world and implanting the desire to visit the country in minds of countless travelers. However, one myth has served to repel would be visitors: Japan is extremely expensive. While its true Japan can be expensive, a trip to Tokyo can still be done on a budget and can cost much less than a jaunt to Europe’s largest cities.
A journey to Japan can be incredibly rewarding without cashing out your child’s education fund. I lived in Japan for over 5 years, and my wife is from Tokyo. Since we travel there quite a bit we try to keep our costs down as much as possible, especially as the Yen is at historical highs compared to other currencies. There are so many things to do in Tokyothat can burn a whole in your wallet. As frequent former resident, frequent visitor, and a lover of my own money, here are 10 things you can do in Tokyo for free. Enjoy, and use your savings to get out of Tokyo and experience the rest of Japan
One tuna can sell for more than $10,000
You used to have to wake up early, 4:30 am (or stay out drinking late), to experience the inner workings of the Japanese fish industry. Now visitors are not allow in until 9 am, I guess too many took the drinking option and interrupted the tuna auctions held at 5:30 am. Nevertheless, a visit is still worth it to see the wholesale clearing house for a nation addicted to the spoils of the sea. The market is smelly, and open every morning except Sunday. Located near Tsukiji Shiko Station on the Oedo Subway Line the market is made up of an inner market, where the wholesale business and tuna auctions take place, and an outer market with retail shops and restaurants that cater to the public. The Japanese as sticklers for the rules, which are now more complicated than ever. Use the map for help on where you can and can’t go, and at what times!
How long do you think it takes for them to get ready?
A trip to Tokyo is not complete without a glimps of Japan’s funky youth, desperately trying to be different by dressing in similar groups, from goth, to little bow peep outfits. Head to Harajuku on a Sunday, even rebels go to school and work, and head for the bridge. And don’t be shy, ask for your picture to be taken with them, they are not as scary as they look.
Real or fake hair? You decide
Since you’re in the neighborhood and it’s Sunday, walk to nearby Yoyogi Park. On Sundays the park turns into a free outdoor concert with bands battling it out for attention, drum circles, artists and street performers under every tree. Besides the colorful street entertainment, the park itself is beautiful and worthy of a stroll, or even a rave.
Now those are streets you could get lost in
If you’re in Tokyo you had better make sure you see Tokyo. You don’t have a pay to get a good view and the 45th floor of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (also known as TMG Office) is one of the best. Right near Shinjuku Station, open from 09:30 am to 05:30 pm (07:30 on Sunday) and closed on public holidays, TMG offers stunning views of the city and if you’re lucky(read: if the smog clears) views of Mt. Fuji.
The massive imperial palace grounds is set in the middle of Tokyo and surrounded by moats and held together with stone walls. Built on the former site of Edo castle, the imperial palace boasts one of the most beautiful gardens in all of Tokyo, the East Garden. The garden is free to enter (closed Mondays, Fridays and special occasions), and while you at it book a free tour of the grounds (its the only way you can get into the inner areas). This will require some advanced planning but luckily the application is online and in English (click here). The buildings and inner gardens are off limits as the imperial family lives there, but the doors are thrown wide open on the Emperor’s birthday (December 23) and for the New Years greeting (January 2nd). Time your visit right and you’ll get a free peak into Japan’s royal family.
Senso-ji Temple with its vibrant gate and pagoda
Most Buddhist Temples and Shinto shrines are free in Tokyo. Considering they can be hundreds of years old, hold elaborate and colorful festivals, and contain some of the countries most treasured artifacts, that’s a pretty good deal. A few of the most popular, and some of my favorites include: Sensoji temple in Asakusa (from the 7th century!), Meiji Shrine in Shibuya and Zozoji Temple near Tokyo Tower.
Who doesn’t love gadgets, and when they are free to play with and sometimes not yet released to the general public they become even better. Visit the Sony Building in Ginza and enjoy 4 floors of the latest gadgets. It’s near to the Sukiyabashi Crossing and is open everyday from 11:00am to 7:00pm.
Gadgets, gadgets and some maids...in the coffee shops, geeks love maids
Not tired of gadgets yet? Who would be, you’re in Tokyo and the buzz of electricity is everywhere. To see, and play with, more than just the Sony goodies head down to Tokyo’s electronics district Akihabara and wander in and out of the shops. Technically its free, but your wallet might take a hit after you start drooling over the latest cell phones and digital cameras.
Dirty, but still pretty
Yes, you read that correctly, manhole covers. Details are everything in Japan and if you spend all your time looking up at the tall buildings and the gigantic flashing TV screens you’ll miss the beauty under your feet. Manhole covers are usually fashioned in a traditional design and vary street to street as a way to mark the different tunnel systems underneath. You can’t take them home, but the picture and the story are free, all you have to do is walk, look, and pay attention (think of it as walking mediation).
You won't get this in the morning, but you'll still get the g-strings
Sumo has taken a bruising recently in the media due to gambling, pot smoking and charges some players coaches are connected to the Yakuza. Despite the dirt, it is still amazing to see up close and personal. Just don’t get too close as they are big, sweaty and wearing traditional g-strings. Tokyo boasts three grand sumo tournaments per year but these cost money. A better strategy is to visit a stable (a training hall) and watch sumo players work out in the morning. There are over 50 stables spread throughout Tokyo but no easy way to get in on the action without a guide. Your best best is to ask your hotel for help, or even just visit the Ryogoku area, the home of sumo in Tokyo, in the morning and listen for the screams
Know of any other freebies in Tokyo. Leave your comments and ideas below.
[Disclaimer: things change, times, costs, even buildings. The information here is accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time of publishing. But things change...I think I mentioned that earlier, so check times and access before you go]Source: www.toddswanderings.com
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