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10 Free Activities you’ll Enjoy in Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan could also be an upscale city to visit and this bustling city have always made it to the list of World’s expensive city to measure 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!
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: https://www.kunaicho.go.jp/eindex.html
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).
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.
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.
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).
Tokyo Government Office
image source: Yoshiaki Seki
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.