For all the travellers out there, especially those who have the desire to explore more of Japan, you might notice that transportation fees in Japan aren’t cheap at all. Also, if you happen to travel in the peak season, your wallet gets lighter quickly because of accommodation expenses, not to mention the entrance tickets you have to buy at many sightseeing destinations.
So why don’t you check out this list of free sightseeing spots, as well as discounted tourist destinations (especially available in major cities) I’m sure this list will please your wallet!
If you are interested in discovering Japan’s culture through temples, palaces, or seeing people go about their daily lives, you will surely love these spots:
Meiji Shrine, Sensoji Temple, Tsukiji Market, Imperial Palace plus East Gardens or the 45th floor observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
You can also simply go window shopping and watch the bustling crowds in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Akihabara and Ginza.
Kyoto is the land of temples and shrines; the atmosphere is peaceful and there seems to be a slower pace of living compared to the other big cities in Japan. Famous are the Fushimi Inari Shrine, The Imperial palaces and villas (Kyoto Imperial Palace, Sento Palace, Katsura Villa, Shugakuin Villa) and the Nishiki Market.
You can also walk the Philosopher’s Path, and the districts around Gion and Kiyomizudera, there are many opportunities for wonderful photos so you can still enjoy the trip you made after you come home.
Located in central Nara is the Yoshikien, a tranquil garden which is beautiful in all seasons, and where foreigners don’t pay an entrance fee during the tourist season (otherwise 250 yen). The Heijo Palace was the imperial residence hundreds of years ago when Nara was still Japan’s capital, and today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Go for a free beer tasting at the Kirin Beer Village, or check out the waterfront between Minato Mirai and Chinatown, featuring the Osanbashi Pier, Yokohama’s international passenger terminal where large ships arrive and depart.
Hiroshima is an interesting place to visit for history buffs as well as museum lovers. The Hiroshima Peace Park has a museum where the entrance fee is only 50 yen. A very different museum is the Mazda Museum: in Nagoya they have Toyota, but in Hiroshima Mazda has a large plant with its own museum. The Daishoin Temple is located at an island near Hiroshima and is well worth seeing because of the beautiful location in a forest-rich area.
This city is often skipped by tourists, but if you happen to be in the area there are some nice temples to visit, the largest and most famous one being the Atsuta Shrine. Every year on June 5th there is a lantern festival with fireworks which is definitely worth visiting. There is also the Osu Kannon Temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple in a big shopping area. Of course you can’t skip the exclusive Toyota Factory Tour, which is free of charge!
Make sure to bring your passport with you so as not to miss any fun! Also don’t forget to check the good deals you can get at Tourist Information centres.
Tobu Nikko Free Pass provides travel and admission to spots in Nikko and Kinugawa. Nara has free admission to all the prefectural sites.‘Welcome Cards’ give foreign travellers small gifts and discounts in various regions among Northern Tohoku, Narita, Mount Fuji area, Kagawa Prefecture and Fukuoka
For Children and Seniors: most sightseeing spots, as well as amusement centers, have this kind of discount.
Discounts for children usually apply to those who are younger than 12, or shorter than 130cm. Senior discounts apply to those who are 65 years and older.
In some cases, discounts apply to university and high school students (make sure to bring your ID card).
If you plan to visit a lot of museums, definitely don’t miss out on the Grutt Museum Pass. This pass provides free or discounted admission for up to 78 zoos and museums in the Tokyo area (2015). It costs 2,000 yen and is sold from April through January at participating convenience stores and travel agents. The pass is valid for 2 months after the first use. A similar pass is available in the Kansai region.
Experience Japan without running out of money (too quickly)!