Think Tokyo Is an Expensive City? Here Are 10 FREE Things to Do in Japan’s Capital

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  • Although Tokyo is more affordable than other large cities such as London, Oslo, and New York, the capital of Japan is still considered a pretty expensive city. Most people who work in Tokyo live in the outskirts or surrounding areas such as Kawasaki or Chiba because the rent is so expensive. If you plan to visit for even a couple of days, the cost of food, transport, and accommodation can easily eat up a large chunk of your budget. Setting aside money for things to do, then, can be a challenge. Lots of things in Tokyo are fun and unique, but cost a couple of thousand yen. If you’re on a bit of a tight budget, check out these 10 things in Tokyo that you can do completely for free!

    1. See Tokyo Skytree from the outside

    Tokyo Skytree opened in 2012 and is the second tallest tower in the world. To go up to the top of this impressive structure is 2,060 yen, but it costs nothing to see it from the outside. You can get some great photos, browse the Skytree-themed gift shops at Tokyo SKYTREE TOWN, and see the tower when it lights up at night. Skytree is also visible from many areas of Tokyo so you may not even have to pay the train fare to get close to it!

    Tokyo Skytree Website
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    2. Visit one of the city’s beautiful parks

    Tokyo is home to many lovely parks that are completely free to enter. Yoyogi Park in Shibuya often hosts events and festivals. There is also Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden with its beautiful gardens and Ueno Park with its historic monuments.

    3. Visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Decks

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is in Shinjuku and it’s free to head to both the north and south observatory to see the view of Tokyo stretching before you. There are many unique buildings that you can spot from up there, and it’s also a very affordable alternative to going up Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree.

    Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Decks Website
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    4. Stroll around the Imperial Palace East Garden

    The Tokyo Imperial Palace is a short walk from Tokyo Station and the home of the Japanese royal family. The well-maintained area and impressive surrounding walls of the nearby Imperial Gardens, which is something of a natural paradise amidst the skyscrapers of Tokyo, are worth a visit. The gardens are free to enter and feature flowers, ancient barracks in which you can wander, and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the surrounding nature.

    Imperial Palace East Garden Website
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    5. See one of Tokyo’s many shrines and temples

    Almost all temples and shrines in Tokyo are free, and so many are dotted around the city that you can’t go anywhere without seeing at least a few. These beautiful structures don’t charge for entry, unless you want to count the optional 5 yen deposit to pray at the entrance. Some popular choices include the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, the Meiji Shrine in Harajuku, and the graves of the 47 Ronin in Sengakuji Temple.

    6. See the Shibuya Scramble and Hachiko Memorial Statue

    The Shibuya “Scramble” is the busiest crossing in the world where hundreds of people cross the roads simultaneously. It is located right next to Shibuya Station and close to shops, restaurants, clubs, hotels, and business buildings. It’s an impressive crossing where you can marvel at people passing each other without colliding as they go about their day. Sometimes you might even see celebrities or YouTubers hanging out in the area.

    Right beside it, close to Hachiko Exit, is the famous dog statue resembling Hachiko, a real dog that used to wait at the station for his master even long after he’d died. They erected the statue in memory of the dog’s loyalty. This statue is really popular for photographs, and there are days when a local cat sits right underneath Hachiko’s legs!

    Both of these sights are completely free and make for some epic photography.

    Shibuya Scramble Access

    Hachiko Memorial Statue Access

    7. Check out game company buildings

    Tokyo is home to many company buildings of highly successful gaming companies, and you can check out their attractive buildings completely for free! Head to Shinjuku to see the Square Enix building, hit Roppongi if you’re a fan of Konami, or the SEGA Headquarters in Haneda. The possibility of entering and entrance fees vary, but taking a look at them from the outside costs nothing!

    8. See the Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba

    Odaiba is Tokyo’s entertainment island, a chunk of man-made reclaimed land that’s home to shopping centers, restaurants, entertainment areas, and several museums. It’s separated from the rest of Tokyo by the Rainbow Bridge, named so for the gorgeous lights that brighten it up after the sun goes down. Walking along the bridge is also a great way to spend an afternoon and snap some pictures – again, all for free.

    Rainbow Bridge Website
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    9. Visit a free museum

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    Tokyo is also home to many wonderful museums featuring historical artifacts and interesting information on Tokyo’s history. Some free museums you’ll find in the Japanese capital include the Bank of Japan Currency Museum, the weird but fascinating Meguro Parasitological Museum, the Tokyo Kite Museum, the Tokyo Gas Museum, and the Suginami Animation Museum.

    10. Go window shopping

    Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, going shopping in Tokyo can be a fun adventure. See the anime and manga merchandise in Akihabara, the huge collection of electronics in stores such as BIC CAMERA and Yamada Denki, or browse crazy fashions on the street of Takeshita-dori in Harajuku. Hours of fun!

    With these 10 completely free things to do in Tokyo, you can easily plan for a great visit to this wonderful city without breaking the bank. Seeing Tokyo doesn’t have to eat up your budget!

    Would you like to stay in Tokyo? Check out all the hotels in the area here!