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The Traveller's Magazine
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Tokyo for free? The Japanese capital doesn’t exactly have a budget-friendly reputation but with a little creativity you can see and do plenty in Tokyo without spending a single yen. From top attractions to tranquil temple gardens, here’s your guide to experiencing Tokyo for free.

Tokyo is a sprawling metropolis with many different personalities and neighbourhoods. It’s also one of the most expensive for visitors. Can you still experience the city and see the sights without spending a single yen? Absolutely. Here are a few budget-saving tricks and sights that are free to visit while on holidays in Tokyo.

City sights and museums

The Imperial Palace is one of the city’s most popular attractions. While it does cost to get in, you can cycle around it along the moats and paths for free. There are 250 free bikes to use along the Palace Cycling Course every Sunday. Pick your borrowed bike up from outside Nijubashi-mae Station (Exit no. 2) from 10am-3pm on Sundays.

For great views, climb the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office towers. There are viewing decks on the 45th floors of both the North and the South towers. Entry is free daily from 9:30am-10:30pm. On a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji!

Sensoji is Tokyo’s most popular and oldest Buddhist temple. It was built in 638 AD and houses a beautiful golden Buddha statue. Entry is free for visitors but it’s a nice gesture to support the small stalls outside the temple along Nakamise Ori selling souvenirs.

Free museums:

There are few Tokyo museums that are free to visit but here are the handful that are:

  • Meguro Parasitological Museum (creepy bugs and stuff)
  • National Art Centre
  • Advertising Museum Tokyo (history of commerce in Japan)
  • Museum of Contemporary Sculpture (located in Meguru)
  • Ryogoku Kokugikan Museum (sumo wrestling museum)
kimono

Essential experiences

Tokyo’s Fish Market is a stinky place but a lively one that you definitely shouldn’t miss as the catch of the day are hauled off the boats and off to the auction house. There are 120 viewing places for the famous Tuna Auction every day. You’ll need to be there at 5am for a spot.

Tokyo has hundreds of traditional gardens but not all are free. They’re the perfect places to escape the buzz of the city and relax. Here are a few free ones around the city:

  • New Otani Hotel Gardens (Akasaka)
  • Four Seasons Chinzan-so
  • Happoen (near Shirokanedai Station)
  • Imperial Palace East Gardens (pictured below)
imperial-palace

Bonus: If you’re visiting Tokyo on your birthday, head over to the Tokyo Tower for free entry!

[see]Travel Myth Buster: Japan is expensive[/see]

Like to travel for free? We’ve created dozens of free city guides on the Traveller’s Blog from Venice to Vancouver, Paris to Hong Kong.

Imgs: richardsummers, john weiss / Flickr cc.

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