Is Tokyo really the MOST expensive city in the world? Well, just like any big city it’s easy to over spend your budget but Tokyo is not as expensive as you may think. In fact, there are many things you can even do for FREE in this mind-blowing city. So, read our guide to find out more.
See the Imperial Palace & Imperial Palace East Gardens
The Imperial Palace is the former site of Edo Castle. The castle was the residence of the Tokugawa Shogun. The samurai clan ruled Edo (now Tokyo) from 1603 - 1867. It is now the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. The East Gardens are worth visiting. The main castle, inner keep, was destroyed by fire in 1657 and was never rebuilt. Though none of the main buildings survived, you can still see the surrounding moats, walls, and entrance gates.
East Garden Hours: The gardens are usually closed on Mondays and Fridays. When a National Holiday falls on a Monday, the gardens will be open for the National Holiday and closed on the next day, Tuesday. The East Gardens are closed from December 28 - January 3.
The opening hours are usually open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm (entry until 4:00 pm)
For access: take the train to Otemachi Station. The East Gardens are a short walk from the station. Admission is free.
Spend the day in Inokashira Park
Inokashira Park dates back to the Edo period and is the primary water source for the Kanda River. The name Inokashira means "source of the water supply”. There are many fun activities to do in the park. You can rent a swan boat, row boat or regular paddle boat. Inokashira Park Zoo is also in the park and international people can get a 20% discount with a passport. The Ghibli Museum is within walking distance from the park. Tickets should be purchased in advance. The local town of Kichijoji can be explored on the same day!
For access: take the train to Inokashira Koen Station or Kichijoji Station. Admission is free.
Relax and see a cool view of Tokyo Tower
Shiba Park is a public park in Minato Ward (City) and it is next to Zōjō-ji Temple. The park is a great location for viewing Tokyo Tower, a communications and observation tower. The tower has a height of 333 meters and was completed in 1958. It was painted white and a dark shade of orange to comply with air safety regulations. We recommend you also see Zōjō-ji Temple where you can see an impressive view of the main temple hall overshadowed by Tokyo Tower.
For access: take the train to Shiba Koen Station. The Shiba Park is a short walk from the station. Admission is free.
Checkout Ameya-yokocho (Ameyoko)
Ameyoko is a market street along the Yamanote Line tracks in Tokyo's Taitō Ward. The market originally grew from a black market that started in the 1950s. Amaya Yokocho gradually changed from a black market to a shopping district. Since the market was selling imported goods, locals began to call the market, Ameyoko which is a combination of ”Ameya-yokocho” or candy store lane and ”Amerika-yokocho” or America lane.
For access: take the train to Ueno Station. The market is located between Okachimachi and Ueno Stations.
Go hiking to Mount Takao
Mt. Takao is only 50 minutes from Tokyo and is a perfect day trip. There are six different trails which have various difficulty levels. Yuki-ji temple can visited along the way up the mountain. In the summer time, there is also beer garden called Takaosan Beer Mount that is open until mid-October. After a long day of hiking, a popular activity is to visit the Keio Takaosan Onsen (hot springs) to finish the day. Tickets to the hot springs are reasonably priced, 1000-1200 yen depending on the time of year.
For access: take the train to Takaosanguchi Station. Then walk about 10 minutes to Takao Tozan Cable Kiyotaki Station. From there, you can hike up the mountain or buy a ticket for the cable car or chair lift. The cable car is on the left-side and the chair lift is on the right-side at the the top of the steps.
Hangout in Harajuku and Omotesando
Harajuku and Takeshita Dori offer shopping for the younger crowd. The Omotesando area is where you will find the high end luxury brands and it is a very fashionable area of Tokyo. Omotesando with its many side streets is a very fun place to simply wonder around. What stands out is the modern and futuristic architecture which makes it an exciting spot to just hangout and maybe take some photos. Meiji-Jingu Shrine and Yoyogi Park are also nearby Harajuku. So, there's many options to choose from!
For access: take the train to Harajuku Station or Meiji-jingumae Station
Walk along Meguro River
Meguro River in the Naka-meguro area of Tokyo is a cool international town with many stylish bars and restaurants along the river. The area is especially famous for the Cherry Blossoms along the river that you can see in early April and the Christmas Illumination. It is a nice place to go for a walk any time of year and the Naka-meguo area is a fun place to get lost in.
For access: take the train to Naka-meguro Station. It’s about a 5 minute walk to Meguro River.
Go "window shopping" in Ginza
Ginza dates back to the Edo period and the district name came from the Ginza Yakusho or Ginza government office. It was originally a money exchanging town. In 1603, the Edo Shogunate founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu had the silver coin mint moved from Sunpu in Shizuoka to its current location. Ginza is known as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world. It’s a fun place to go, even if you just do window shopping!
For access: take the train to Ginza Station. There are many station exits so check online which exit you need before you go.
Discover unique temples and shrines
Gokoku-ji Temple in the Bunkyo Ward of Tokyo was founded in 1681 and is a Shingon Buddhist temple. It was established by the fifth shogun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi who dedicated the temple to his mother, Keishoin. The temple is well-known as one of the few historical sites in Tokyo to have survived the bombings of World War II and the original buildings can still be seen today. The closest subway station is Gokokuji on the Yurakucho line.
For access: take the train to Gokokuji Station. It is about a 5 minutes walk from the station. Admission is free.
Nezu-jinja Shrine in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward is one of Japan's oldest shrines and its architecture is unique in that it was built in Gongen-style which has been maintained until today. The shrine has a "Tori gate path" similar to the one at Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto.
For access: take the train to Nezu Station. It is about a 10 minute walk to the station. Admission is free.
Atago Jinja Shrine is a small Shinto shrine founded in 1603 by order of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. It is located on top of Atago-yama Hill and is 26 meters or 85 feet high above sea level. Atago Jinja is a spiritual branch of Atago Jinja Shrine in Kyoto which is famous for enshrining gods that offer protection from fire. The shrine was built to protect the local people from fires.
For access: take the train to Toranomon Station. It is about a 10 minute walk from there. We recommend using Google maps to help you find it.
Explore Asakusa and see Sensoji Temple
Asakusa is a district in Taito City that is famous for being the location of Sensoji Temple. The area has become a very touristy place but is also a very historic town with many interesting things to see. We recommend checking out the “Hanayashiki” amusement park and taking a walk along Sumidagawa River.
The Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center offers some great views of Sensoji Temple, Sumidagawa River, and Tokyo Skytree. The building was designed by Kengo Kuma, a famous Japanese architect. Admission to the Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center is free.
For access to Asakusa: take the train to Asakusa Station. The main attractions are nearby the station.
Shibamata is a cute temple town in Katsushika City which is famous for the Japanese film series, Otoko wa tsurai yo (It’s Tough Being a Man). There is a statue outside the station of the film’s lead character, Tora-san. Taishakuten Daikyoji Temple is highly recommended. Entry is free. There is a fee to enter the traditional Japanese garden which we highly recommend seeing!
For access: take the train to Shibamata Station. The main shopping street is near the station.
Admire impressive city views
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (TOCHO) in Shinjuku offers views from the 45th floor of the city and many famous landmarks. This photo was taken from the Southern Observatory.
For access: take the train to Tocho-mae Station. Admission is free.
The Bunkyo Civic Center which is nearby Tokyo Dome and Koishikawa-Kōrakuen Gardens. Admission to the 25th floor observation deck is free and you can see a panorama of Tokyo! Keep in that the sun sets early in the winter so get there before 4 pm!
For access: take the train to Kōrakuen Station. The Bunkyo Civic Center is directly connected to the station. Admission is free.
Tokyo Station is in the heart of the nation’s capital. It is a symbol of Japan and had its 100th anniversary in 2014. This photo was taken from “KITTE” in the Marunouchi area. Admission is free.
For access: take the train to Tokyo Station. The “KITTE” department store is connected to the station
Spring time is almost here and with the warmer temperatures, come the cherry blossoms! It’s an exciting time and when the blossoms are in full bloom it looks like something out of a fairy tale....
Have you visited Japan in the autumn? It is one of the best times of the year to visit Tokyo. The colors of Japan's autumn leaves are breathtakingly beautiful and the leaves are best seen at traditional Japanese gardens and temples.