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12 FREE Things You Have To Do In Tokyo


Farah R. •  Feb 28, 2016


[UPDATED 12 Nov 2019] Tokyo can be expensive city to travel to and stay in, but if you’re smart about it, you can still enjoy many free things to do in Tokyo. We’ve got lots of tips on how to save on flight, meals and accommodation. But that’s not all – there are so many ways you can experience Tokyo without shelling out a single yen! (And if you need help planning your trip, you can always check out our 7D7N Muslim-friendly Tokyo itinerary under RM3000!)
Credit: Giphy P.S. If you're travelling to Tokyo, be sure to check out our complete list of halal Japanese food in Tokyo!
1. Explore the Imperial Palace grounds
The Imperial Palace East Gardens are open to the public almost all year round. Feast your eyes on the traditional architecture of the palace buildings, or take a quiet stroll amidst the gorgeous foliage. You can also get a glimpse of Japan’s history. Remnants of structures built in the 1600s, such as the former castle tower, can still be seen on the grounds. On Sundays, the Japanese Bicycle Promotion Institute offers free bicycles for use around the palace grounds. It’s a great way to cover more ground while saving energy. Opening Hours: 9am to 4.30pm (until 17:00 from mid April through August; until 16:00 from November through February). Admission ends 30 minutes before closing. Closed on Mondays, Fridays and selected national holidays. Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8111 Directions: 10-15 min walk from Tokyo Station or 2 min walk from Otemachi Station P.S. Travelling to other parts of Japan? Our 10D9N Muslim-friendly guide to Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto will be perfect!
2. Join the scramble at the famous Shibuya Crossing
The colourful intersection just outside of Shibuya Station is one of Tokyo’s most iconic urban locations. The human traffic is quite a sight to behold, especially in the evening. #HHWT Tip: When you’re done experiencing the scramble, grab a photo from the surrounding buildings. The Starbucks outlet in Tsutaya Building is a great place to see the crossing from above!
If you don't mind forking out some money, head up to the newest building in Shibuya called the Shibuya Scramble Square to get an impressive of the crossing and a panoramic view of Tokyo. #HHWT Tip: While you're in the area, don't forget to try halal yakiniku! Directions: Walk from Shibuya Station’s Hachiko Exit
3. Get an awesome view of the city from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
[caption id="attachment_6134" align="alignnone" width="900"]
View from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tocho)[/caption] Credit: Joe Mabel on Flickr Tokyo has no shortage of observation decks, but most of them charge an admission fee. Fortunately, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tocho) in Shinjuku has not just one, but two observatories with free entry. At 45 storeys high (about 200 metres above ground level), you’re guaranteed a spectacular view of this gorgeous city. And if the weather is clear, the South observatory is a great place to watch the sunset. Opening Hours: North Observatory: Closed for renovations South Observatory: 9.30AM-11PM (entry until 10:30PM) Address: Nishi-Shinjuku 2-chome, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 163-8001 Directions: 10-15 min walk from Shinjuku Station west exit
4. Catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji from the Bunkyo Civic Centre
On a clear day, you can view Mount Fuji from parts of Tokyo. Bunkyo Civic Centre’s observation lounge is one of the best places to do this, due to its location. Opening Hours: 9am to 830pm, closed on third Sunday of May and from 29 December to 3 January Directions: 1 min walk from Korakuen Station Exit 5 or 1 min walk from Kasuga Station via Bunkyo Civic Center Accessway
5. Walk on the traditional side of Tokyo in Asakusa
There are a lot of reasons why Asakusa is a must-see. Not least among them is that it costs no money to enjoy the sights and sounds of Nakamise Street, which leads to Senso-ji Temple. Nakamise is lined with street stalls selling traditional goods as well as Muslim-friendly local snacks. It’s a popular spot for worshippers as well as tourists, so brace yourself for crowds, especially on weekends and public holidays.
Also in the area is Asakusa Shrine, home to the Sanja Matsuri (Sanja Festival). If you find yourself in Tokyo at that time, make sure you catch the festivities! P.S. Check out our Muslim-friendly travel guide to Asakusa if you're planning a trip!Directions: 2 min walk from Asakusa Station
6. Cross the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba, Tokyo’s Man-Made Island
Odaiba is built entirely on reclaimed land, and connected to the mainland by the Rainbow Bridge. While there are train services to Odaiba, you can choose to walk along the pedestrian walkway of the bridge. The walk offers some lovely views of the waterfront. [caption id="attachment_6142" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Rainbow Bridge at night[/caption] Credit: Luke Ma on Flickr Odaiba is home to shopping complexes and entertainment centres. But there’s also a lot of open space, green areas and an (artificial) beach, making it a pleasant place for a relaxing walk.
You can also find a replica of the Statue of Liberty and a full-scale model of a Gundam (outside Diver-City Tokyo Plaza). Don’t forget to pose with them! Opening Hours (for bridge walkway): 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (9:00 to 9:00 pm in April to October) Closed on third Monday of every month (closed next day instead if Monday is a national holiday) Directions: On foot via Rainbow Bridge - 5 min walk from Shibaura Futo Station to Shibaura Gate of the Rainbow Bridge By train: Daiba Station And while you’re in the area…
7. Gear up at Toyota Mega Web
Credit: Mega Web Located in Odaiba, Toyota Mega Web is huge Toyota showroom. You can view showcases of current Toyota models as well as its older cars. There are also plenty of activities such as driving simulators and a garage where you can watch mechanics at work restoring old cars. While some activities require a small admission fee, the majority of them are free. [caption id="attachment_6136" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Toyota Mega Web
Toyota Mega Web[/caption] Credit: Mega WebOpening Hours: 11AM-9PM (closed on Tue) Address: 1-3-12 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0064 Directions: Walk from Aomi Station on Tokyo Teleport Station (Yurikamome Line)
8. Wander the Streets of Akihabara
While it’s known for its many electronics stores, Akihabara has now become famous for being the centre of otaku culture. Numerous anime-related establishments such as figurine stores and themed cafes can be found among the electronics outlets. [caption id="attachment_6125" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Akihabara[/caption] Credit: Antonio Tajuelo on Flickr On Sundays, the districts main street Chuo Dori is closed to traffic from 1 pm to 6 pm (until 5pm from Oct-Mar), turning the area into a pedestrian zone (and a pretty good photo-op!) [caption id="attachment_6126" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Akihabara on Sundays
Akihabara on Sundays[/caption] Credit: Joe Jones on FlickrDirections: Walk from Akihabara Station
9. Enjoy a quiet walk around Meji-Jingu Shrine
If you’d like to take a break from Tokyo’s crowds, Meji Jingu (Meiji Shrine) is an ideal place to head to, except maybe on New Year’s Day where about 3 million visitors will be there for the year’s first prayers. Meiji Jingu is surrounded by a forest that shields it from the bustle of the city, creating a tranquil atmosphere. Its Iris Garden is a popular location in June as the irises will be in full bloom. Opening Hours: Changes every month. Check here for timings. Address: 1-1 Yoyogi-Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-8857 Directions: 1 min walk from Harajuku Station
10. Peek at a sumo wrestling training session
Attending a sumo wrestling match can be a pricey affair. Fortunately, you can still watch rikishis (wrestlers) duke it out in their morning training sessions at Arashio-Beya. Visitors are not allowed in the building, but you can watch through the clear windows. Don’t worry, they won’t think you’re a voyeur – the venue even has a guide on the best times to catch these sessions. Opening Hours: 7.30am to 10.am (See Arashio-Beya’s guide for training days) Address: 2-47-2, Hama-cho Nihonbashi Chuo-ku Tokyo Directions: 1 min walk from Hamacho Station exit A2
11. Enjoy the flora and fauna of Yoyogi Park
[caption id="attachment_2214" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Yoyogi Park in Spring
Yoyogi Park in Spring[/caption] Yoyogi Park is a pretty good place to view cherry blossoms and autumn foliage – the park’s ginko trees turn into an intense golden colour in autumn. If these are not in season, though, you might turn your attention to the people instead. Members of Tokyo’s various subcultures like to gather here on Sunday, decked out in their distinctive styles. Directions: 5 min walk from Harajuku Station
12. Watch the tuna auction at Toyosu Fish Market
The ever popular tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market has since moved to Toyosu Market! Although it's at a different location, you can still expect to witness a flurry of activity here, although the atmosphere isn't as bustling as the old market. The auction starts at around 5-5.30am and lasts till 6.30pm. There are two halls where you can catch the auction - one for tuna and the other for other seafood items. You can view the auction through an observation deck and you'll need to reserve your spot in advance here. Not planning to wake up that early to catch the auction? You can still visit Toyosu Fish Market and taste fresh seafood, or even head up to the rooftop garden for a stunning view of the Tokyo Bay. Opening Hours: 5AM-5PM (closed on Sun, national holidays and some Wednesdays). Check out the calendar here. Address: 6 Chome-3 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0061, Japan (Shijo-Mae train station) There’s such a variety of experiences you can have in Tokyo even when you’re not looking to spend. So it’s very much possible to get to know this incredible city on a tight budget. And with all that money you saved, you’ll have more for delicious local food or for shopping! If you're also visiting Kyoto, check out all our travel guides for Kyoto and how you can also enjoy Kyoto for FREE!