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10 Free Activities You Can Enjoy in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan may be an expensive city to travel to and this bustling city have always made it to the list of World’s expensive city to live in, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to bring in your yen money-making machine and spend a lot to enjoy Tokyo and what it has to offer. There are a lot of free activities that you can do in Tokyo whilst you enjoy its food, sights, high neon signs and embrace its culture.

People watching at Shibuya Crossing

Nearest station: Shibuya Sta. and take the exit to Hachiko Gate

That famous street pedestrian crossing that you often see on Japan made commercials or ads on the TV is located at the Shibuya Station in Tokyo, Japan. The amazing thing here is that the street crossing originates from 5 starting points and when the green light is on, the pedestrians starts crossing to the other side of the street. During rush hour period, which is around when the Japanese heads to work in the morning and in the evening when they are all rushing to head home, this pedestrian crossing is literally like a sea of humanity. There is no shoving, no shouting, no mad dash, no angry mob. Just people trying to head home safely. And that’s just how the Japanese are polite and courteous.

Visit Meiji Jingu Shrine

Nearest Station: Meiji-Jingumae Sta. and take exit C

This shrine is a shinto shrine where the souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken are enshrined. Built in 1920, the solemn forest was created by the plantation of hundred thousand trees donated from all over Japan at that time. Meiji Jingu has museums and gardens around the expansive area. Wear your comfy shoes when planning to visit, it is a long walk and rough road!

Meiji Jingu Shrine Tokyo Japan

Meiji Jingu Shrine Tokyo Japan

Tour Tokyo Imperial Palace

Nearest Station: Nijubashimai Subway Sta or Hibiya Subway Sta.

Foreigners can enjoy a tour of the Tokyo Imperial Palace for free when they book a schedule online. The schedule booking must be done in advance, best is prior your travel to Japan. The palace is open all year round. Only the Imperial Palace East Park is open for tours and the Nijubashi Bridge in front of the main entrance is famous.

Here is the website to book the free tour: http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/order/index_EN.html

For more information on Tokyo Imperial Palace, here is the website to check out: http://www.gojapango.com/tokyo/imperial_palace_tokyo.htm

Visit Sensoji Shrine

Nearest Station: Tobu Line, Asakusa Sta and head for the North Exit

The Sensoji Shrine is the oldest shrine and most significant one in Tokyo, said to have been built in the year 628. It is famous for that giant red lantern hanging in the main gate, the Kaminarimon Gate (Thunder Gate).

tokyo japan free attractions

Kaminarimon Gate Tokyo Japan Photo Credit: www.japantimes.co.jp

Visit Yoyogi Park

Nearest Station: Meiji-Jingumae Sta. and take exit C

After you have walked around the Meiji Jingu Shrine, you can head to the nearby Yoyogi Park for a much-needed rest. You can take of your shoes and socks and walk barefoot on the grass. If you visit during the cherry blossoms season then Yoyogi park is one of the more picturesque parks to catch the blossoms and take awesome photos.

Yoyogi Park Tokyo Japan

Yoyogi Park Tokyo Japan

Experience the anime fever in Akihabara district

Nearest Station: Akihabara Sta and head for the Electric Town Exit

Akihabara district is the go to place for all your camera and gadget needs. They have all kinds of camera and the accessories that you will need. Believe me when I say, it will be difficult to go home without any shopping bag from Akihabara. The main road is lined with shopping buildings that sell all kinds of camera and electronic gadgets, anime apparels and souvenir items, second-hand old school nintendo games and anything battery operated toys.

Here’s my previous post about activities you can enjoy in Akihabara district.

Shopping at Takeshita Dori

Nearest Station: JR Harajuku Sta.

If you are fond of those cute Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters, as I was in my high school days, and love everything pink and fluffy, then you need to visit this bustling street. When coming to Takeshita Dori (or street) look up and see yourself from the billboard hanging over the entrance to the street. Cool eh?

There are also some Japanese who dress up as their favorite animes and willingly have their photo taken. Visit this long street of small shop houses during the cooler late afternoon to catch the cosplays walking around.

Visit Ueno park

Nearest Station: JR line, Ueno Sta and head for the Central Exit

During the sakura or cherry blossom season, Ueno park is a must visit. This park is just packed with tourist and locals wanting to take a selfie with the cherry blossom in the background.

Ueno Park (Ueno Koen) is the first public park in Tokyo and during spring time, it’s simply Tokyo’s most famous park. Be ready to spend some time, or maybe even a full day, here in Ueno because located inside this expansive park is a zoo, art galleries, museums, a cafe, and in the late afternoon, there’s a lot of street musicians and street entertainers around.

Inside the Ueno Park is Tokyo’s first zoo, the Tokyo Zoo. There is an admission fee for entrance to the zoo, 600 yen (adults 15-64 years old), 300 yen (senior citizens), 200 yen (children 12-14 years old). Free entry on March 20 (Ueno Zoo Anniversary), May 4 (Midori no Hi) and October 1 (Tomin no Hi).

Ueno Park Tokyo Japan Photo Credit:en.wikipedia.org

Ueno Park Tokyo Japan Photo Credit:en.wikipedia.org

Tokyo Government Office

Nearest Station: Tochomae Subway Sta.

One of Tokyo’s landmark buildings, there is an observatory on the 45th floor where you can get an amazing 360 degree view of Tokyo. There are 2 observatories, the North and the South, with the North observatory open up to 11PM and the South observatory closing at 5.30PM. Look for the special observatory lift on the ground floor of the Main building.

For more information on the days that observatory decks are closed, visit their website, http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH/OFFICES/observat.htm

Visit Sumo museum at Ryogoku Kokugikan

Nearest Station: JR line, Ryogoku Sta.

If you are a big sumo fan, then this museum is a must visit for you. Ryogoku Kokugikan is where grand tournaments of Sumo wrestling, an ancient Japanese form of martial arts, are held. When there are no main tournaments, visitors can still enjoy concession stands inside. The Sumo Museum, which houses documents related sumo, is also popular place to visit. Admission is free to visitors as long as there is no grand sumo tournament happening.

For more information on Sumo wrestling and grand tournaments happening soon, visit http://www.sumo.or.jp/en/index

Read : Recommended Affordable Hostels and Capsule Hotels in Tokyo

So there you have a list of free things or activities that you can do in Tokyo, Japan. Your travel to Tokyo shouldn’t leave a hole in your pocket or leave your credit card swiped to the max. If you have more tips on how to save precious yen when visiting Japan, share it in the comments section below!

Share this among your friends who are planning their first trip to Tokyo, sharing is caring!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Serena - last year Reply

Hi,I like your guide about Tokyo!!
I’m a office worker who live in Tokyo
When I feel tired,I sometimes go to Yoyogi park to picnic:-))
By the way,how about Kasai Rinkai Park?
It’s also my favorite!

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    Would love to include it on my next post. I really fell in love with Tokyo on my very short 8-day visit there. Would love to go back and hope to meet you!!!

Stefan - last year Reply

Absolutely love your suggestions – we tried most of these and the quirky Takeshita Dori our hands down favourite! Now where to find an anime dress and join in all the crazy fun…. 🙂

Katja - last year Reply

I can not wait to go to Tokyo!! My parents actually just returned from an amazing two week trip to Japan and they said it was just amazing. Thanks for all the tips for free things to do, when you travel as a family of five as we do – free is good!

Amelie - last year Reply

I’ve wanted to visit Japan forever but always thought of it as a destination I can’t afford. I’ll make sure to bookmark this, so helpful!!

anna - last year Reply

Great tips! I love discovering free things to do in an area!!! I can’t get over those cherry blossoms! Beautiful!

Tamara - last year Reply

Such a great list, and I totally agree based on my experience in that city! Don’t you just love Japan?! I was especially enamoured with the people, they’re all so nice!

melody pittman - last year Reply

Pretty sure the palaces, parks, and shrines could keep me busy for weeks! great guide!

Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie - last year Reply

The parks and gardens look pretty and serene compared to busy Tokyo. I haven’t been to Japan yet and it’s nice to have some budget-friendly ideas in mind.The interest in anime and cosplay are so fascinating. It would be pretty fun to see everyone walking around in costume pretending.

Tess Andrade - last year Reply

I want a Hello Kitty costume!!! LOL. How awesome would that be…? Even if a tad weird haha! I soooo need to finally make it to Japan — especially for the FOOD. I absolutely ADORE Japanese food…..i will visit for sure and will keep your super handy suggestions in mind! Thank you for this write-up!

Rosemary - last year Reply

What a great list of free things to do. Always thought that Japan was too expensive and this gives a different point of view. The parks look great, love your photos of the cherry blossom trees. Can’t wait to visit sometime soon 🙂

Laura - last year Reply

It’s funny how interesting/exciting just an intersection can be. I’d definitely check out Shibuya Crossing as a good people watching activity.

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Sara | Belly Rumbles - last year Reply

Having been lucky to visit Tokyo numerous time all these suggestions are fantastic. People have the perception that Tokyo is expensive, but it really isn’t if you know what and where to head.

Indrani - last year Reply

Adding this to my Japan folder.
This will enable making best use of visit if I ever make it there.

SamH Travels - last year Reply

When travelling on a budget, it is great to be able to see some of the please you are visiting for free 🙂 Thank you for this list!

Angie (FeetDoTravel) - last year Reply

What a great post! Japan is now at the top of my bucket list but I have heard it’s expensive and as I will be a backpacker when I go, this list will help tremendously. Thank you for putting all of this together and sharing, I have pinned this to my Japan board for when I go 🙂

Claudia - last year Reply

I’m SO crushing on Tokyo and Japan right now! I just received a flight alert with some great pricing for 2017 too. I think it’s meant to be, and your free tips are just perfect for my travel budget. Thank you!

Jenn and Ed Coleman - last year Reply

We just recently found a hotel deal for Japan. If we combine that with the attractions that you laid out we could actually put together a nice little trip that will not break the bank. Thank you for a well put together piece.

Rosemary - last year Reply

I haven’t had the privilege of visiting Tokyo, yet and part of the hesitation is the cost. Thanks for putting together this list of free activities. Great tip about booking in advance for a tour of the Imperial Palace. Saving this for later. Thanks for sharing!

Travel Lexx - last year Reply

Great post and having just come back from Japan, I was happy to see so many of my favourites included!

Lisa - last year Reply

I could explore here for weeks. I always look for free places to visit, love the parks! Thanks for all the tips definitely want to visit one day.

David - last year Reply

I always appreciate free things to do and my desire to revisit Japan and Tokyo is growing and growing. I like how balanced this list is from historical and religious spots to city and nature. Nice one!

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    You noticed! I wanted to include as much as possible, maybe I could come up with a part 2 of this post. Thank you for dropping by!

Mags - last year Reply

I was just in Tokyo for a long layover and hit a few of these. I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to get back and explore more.

Juliette | Snorkels to Snow - last year Reply

Briliant! We’re in Tokyo at the end of January so this has come at a perfect time as we plan our trip! I can’t wait to do all the people watching. I didn’t know about the Tokyo Government office so that sounds like a definite winner to take in some incredible views of this amazing city. We can’t wait!

Jenna - last year Reply

Great suggestions! We checked out quite a few of these spots when we were in Tokyo last year, but we missed out on visiting the Imperial Palace. We got a few photos from the outside, but it would have been cool to take a tour. One of our favorite spots was Meiji Jingu Shrine. This makes me want to head back to Tokyo for more exploring!

Vishal Vashisht - last year Reply

Just visited Tokyo with an agenda to do a few of the things mentioned here in this post. But due to time, could not check out things from my to do list. Maybe next time. Until then, I will enjoy this post.

Barry - last year Reply

Some interesting and practical tips. I’ve visited Japan but haven’t been to Tokyo yet, although I do hear it can be very expensive. Free museums are always a great way to spend a rainy afternoon or days when you fancy learning a little history.

Johann - last year Reply

I’ve always noticed Japan has this very subtle color that attracts in all pictures. My grandfather lived and worked in Japan back in the day and I’ve noticed this in pictures from then. But a lot would have changed now yet the colors remain. Especially the cherry blossoms. The people watching is epic yet so organised. I’m from India and this would be really welcome here. Haha!

rtm - last year Reply

Awesome thanks for sharing

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