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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

10 Things to do on a Budget in Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan’s modern capital is one of the most exciting places on the planet, but this doesn’t mean a holiday to this amazing destination has to break the bank. Like most places in the world, a trip to Tokyo can be done either in luxury or on a shoestring budget. I’ve been lucky to have been able to travel around most of Japan in my ten years of living there and overall I have found Japan to be an incredibly affordable holiday destination.

If you are planning a trip to the land of the rising sun, be sure to check out these things to do in Tokyo, for people travelling on a budget!


The Imperial Palace Gardens


- Located in the heart of Tokyo, the Imperial Palace is a must see tourist attraction, whether you’re travelling on a budget or not. Visit the magnificent gardens surrounding the home of Japan’s emperor and Imperial family. It is an easy walk from Tokyo Station and entry is free.

Visit Harajuku


- A trip to Harajuku is the experience of a lifetime. This is the home of Japanese street fashion and cosplay and the best spot in Tokyo for people watching. Also located close by is the famous Meiji Shrine.

Visit a Shinto Shrine


- Most temples and shrines in Tokyo are free to visit. The more famous ones will charge an entrance fee but this is usually as little as USD$6. Various religious festivals are held throughout the year, with the shrines themselves being a major attraction. Colourful features and intricate detailing can date back hundreds of years to when the shrines were first built.

Buy something from a Vending Machine


- Yes, I know most countries have vending machines, but in Japan they’re at another level. Using a vending machine in Japan is like taking a step into the future with high tech machines that can recommend drinks for you based on the weather and your age and gender. You can pretty much find them on every street corner in Japan. Tokyo has Vending machines that sell just about anything and the prices are very reasonable, sometimes cheaper than a shop.

Karaoke!


- If you’re going to have one night out in Japan, make sure it’s at a karaoke box! The Japanese love to sing and it’s one of the best experiences you’ll ever have. Your night doesn’t need to be expensive with karaoke boxes offering great deals for small groups that include food and drinks.

Get Electric in Akihabara


- Better known electric town, it is the home of technology. Tokyo’s gadget district is frequented by millions of visitors every year. If you’re travelling on a budget, it may be a good idea to leave your wallet at home for this shopping experience. Although you can find some pretty good deals there!

Yoyogi Park


- If you’re looking for some free entertainment, you can’t go past a Sunday afternoon in Yoyogi Park. Local bands battle it out, dressed in the craziest rock gear you’ve ever seen!

Sumo Wrestling


- While sumo wrestling bouts can take a chunk out of your spending money, you can see sumo wrestlers in action during training matches, for free. Training venues aren’t generally made public, so talk to your hotel concierge about finding one nearby.

Eat Noodles!


- Throughout Japan you will find a variety of noodle dishes and restaurants. In my experience, the best noodles are found at the small traditional shops that are usually hidden away in alleys or between buildings. A yummy bowl of noodles will cost you around USD$4.

Island Hop


- If you want to travel, but known that world trip tickets come with a hefty price tag, try discovering the islands of Japan instead. Japan flights between islands are very affordable and give you the chance to experience various types of Japanese culture.

26 comments:

  1. Thanks for the blog and all the info, keep it up.
    I'm planning a trip for 2013 March/April for a month to really soak up the country and its people.
    I'm interested in the last point you said and that local flights are cheap within Japan. Could you give me an idea I'd like to hop to some of the southern islands during my stay.

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  2. Thanks Anthony, Glad to hear that you enjoyed the blog post. March/April is a great time to visit Japan with mild temperatures and lots of beauty. Domestic air travel in Japan is getting cheaper all the time due to more competition. Recently Jetstar Japan and AirAsia entered the market driving down prices. You can now travel via air cheaper than the bullet train to a lot of destinations. These include Okinawa and the southern island of Kyushu.

    John

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  3. AirAsia has super cheap domestic fares at the moment. RM194 from Tokyo to Hokkaido! we are tempted to go! ;p

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    1. Thanks Lina, Yeah, I've heard about some of their recent deals! They are super cheap and what better way to get around and visit all the main islands of Japan.

      John

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  4. How about ... walking! Just walking! Fuelled by cheap konbini store beer. Or from a vending machine. ^^

    Best areas: Yanaka, Nezu and Ameyoko. Oh, anywhere will do.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rurousha, Walking is a fun cheap way to get around and explore a place. Loved walking around Kyoto and Kobe which are good size cities. Luckily there are plenty of convenience stores and vending machines for those all important pit stops :)

      John

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    2. Ru,
      Ever tempted to attempt doing the Nakasendo Trail... on foot?

      I know this one Singaporean guy who did it... ^^

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    3. Hi Lina, Now that does sound interesting! What is the Nakasendo Trail?

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    4. A path/trail that linked Edo and Kyoto. :)

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    5. Thanks Lina, The famous Nakasendo Trail (中山道). I would love to follow the route from Nagano/Gifu my home to Kyoto. Maybe one day :)

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  5. Good ideas!! You are right, there are many things one can do without spending (much) money in Tokyo!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Daphne, Appreciate the positive response. Yes, there are so many things you can do in Tokyo that won't break the bank. I'm sure there are many more that I didn't list that could make it a top 50 :)

      John

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  6. I didn't know that Impereial Palace was famous for sight seeing.
    Certainly, the place is very large and good for walking.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Cocomino, The Imperial Palace is one of the most popular attractions in Tokyo. Unfortunately, the palace itself is open for only two days of the year. However, the Imperial Palace Gardens is open to the public and entry is free.

      John

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  7. Thanks for the great post! I wish there was a "favourites" button on Google Reader... this will definitely come in handy when I go to Japan!

    Those vending machines sound really cool. I'd be curious to know what recommendations a machine would have for me to eat/drink. Akihabara also sounds really nice. But you're right, it is probably best that I leave my wallet home for a trip there :P

    Again, thanks for the post!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Kody, I appreciate your support and great feedback about the article. Great idea that with the favourites button on Google reader. You are always welcome back to the site to refer to the article.

      The vending machines in Japan are awesome and a must try experience. Akihabara is worth a visit and the prices are reasonable if you have an electronic item you are looking for. We bought our video camera there and it was a real bargain. Hope you enjoy Japan when you go over and it will be great to hear about your experience over there :)

      John

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  8. Awesome tips! How i miss those vending machines!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Ru-chan, Glad to hear that you enjoyed the tips. Yes, those vending machines are awesome and nothing like them in the world :)

      John

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  9. All great suggestions. I didn't know there were gardens at the palace to see. Cool. I've only every walked through the parade grounds past it. And there are many on your list I haven:t been back to since I moved back that I need to get to again. :-)

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    1. Thanks Thomas, The Imperial Palace East Gardens are amazing and entry is free! Lots of great things to do and see in Tokyo :)

      John

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  10. Nice post. It's good to know that despite of the expensive city, you can still have fun and enjoy the city without spending too much.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Steve, Yeah, Tokyo can be done in luxury but there are still plenty to see and do on a budget. I've just touched on the tip of the iceberg and there is a lot more you can achieve on a shoestring budget :)

      John

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  11. I still haven't tried sumo, karaoke or island hopping. I'll put it on my "to do" list.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lisa, A few more things for you to try out :) Sumo can be expensive, but like I said in the post, you can watch them in training matches and practice for free. A visit to a karaoke box is also a must try experience in Japan.

      John

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  12. Thanks for this i will be sure to do all of these things when im in japan in two weeks time:D however i was just wondering what do you think would be the cheapest option to get from osaka to tokyo...train, bus, or plane? :S

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Teeny Dee, Not a problem, Glad you found it useful. We usually use the shinkansen (bullet train) from Osaka to Tokyo. It is the quickest, but not necessarily the cheapest option. Maybe have a look at an overnight bus as these tend to be the cheapest option.

      John

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