Tokyo is a place like no other, filled with ancient culture as well as the most modern and futuristic spots you’ll ever see! On a trip to Tokyo, you’ll want to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and experience the best Tokyo has to offer. And if you’re like most of us, you won’t want to break your bank while doing it.
Here are our top 10 things to do in Tokyo - on a budget.
1. Stroll around Tokyo’s huge public parks
One of the best things about Tokyo? There’s a garden or park almost at every corner. Massive public parks are pretty rare in highly urbanised Asian cities, but not in Tokyo. Each park in the city has its own unique character and vibe which makes visiting each one an exciting adventure. Shinjuku Gyoen and East Gardens are known for its peaceful, and serene gardens - perfect for a relaxing picnic. If you want a little more excitement, head to Yoyogi Park in Harajuku to see wacky street performers, and teens in interesting bizarre outfits. Visiting Tokyo in Spring time is even more beautiful as the parks are filled with gorgeous cherry blossoms.
2. Get lost in Shinjuku Station
Shinjuku is the world’s busiest train station, handling 3.6 million passengers everyday. Don’t worry, it’s normal to get lost in the sea of people rushing to their trains and exits. In fact, its all part of the fun and experience of being a tourist in Tokyo!
3. Visit the Meiji Shrine
If you loved visiting Tokyo’s beautiful parks, then you’ll love a visit to the Meiji Shrine in Shibuya. It’s a Shinto (Japan’s original religion) shrine occupying 175 acres of land, right in the heart of Tokyo. You’ll see traditional Japanese buildings, colourful barrels of sake and wine lined up along the walkways, and if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a traditional Japanese wedding taking place on the grounds.
4. Get travel insights from the locals
Japan has an awesome free local service called “Travelers and Locals Japan”. The company matches English-speaking tourists with Japanese locals who are happy to guide you around Tokyo for a chance to practice English. Once signing up, you can either reach out to a local, or a local will try get in contact with you. Depending on what your plans are for your stay in Tokyo, they can either guide you around the city or accompany you to visit the local markets. It’s a great way to see parts of the city from a local’s perspective. You’ll want to sign up at least 2 weeks ahead of your trip to arrange a day and time that suits both you and your local guide.
5. Make a day trip to Mount Fuji
A trip to Tokyo isn’t complete without a visit to Mount Fuji. The mountain is a magnificent sight to behold, and one you’ll need to see with your own eyes. If the weather is permitting, a day trip to Mount Fuji should definitely be on your list of things to do in Tokyo!
6. Go up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Head up to the top of the building to get a free bird’s eye view of Tokyo. On a clear day, you may even have a chance to see the tip of Mount Fuji from afar. Go at dusk to catch spectacular sunsets and see the city burst into neon-lit action.
7. Walk along Shibuya crossing
Seen those iconic photos of people in Tokyo scrambling across the big intersection? That’s at Shibuya crossing. Visiting the crossing will make you realise how busy Tokyo really is. The best time to go is at dusk, one of the crossing’s peak times and when it’s in its most flattering light.
8. Visit Senso-Ji
Visit Tokyo’s most famous Buddhist temple in Asakusa, along Nakamise-dori street. This is one of Japan’s oldest streets, so you’ll get a feel for how rich the Japanese culture is. The street is lined with colourful stalls selling all manner of souvenirs, and old buildings that’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
9. Attend a local festival
The great thing about Tokyo is that there’s always something going on! Almost every week, there’s a matsuri (festival) of some kind. From cherry blossom viewing parties to fire walking events. Keep an eye out for upcoming events at gotokyo.org to see what’s happening while you’re there.
10. Watch a sumo practice
Some sumo training facilities in Tokyo allow visitors to watch the wrestlers during their practice sessions for free. The training usually takes place early morning between 7.30am and 10am. But if you’re wanting the full sumo experience, full with ceremony and tournament, there are often cheap tickets on sale for sumo wrestling matches. They can sell out quickly so you’ll need to get in fast, and make sure you’re travelling during tournament seasons. (They’re usually on during all months except March, July, and November).
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