A Few FREE Things You Can Do in Tokyo

Japan is an amazingly easy country to backpack through, but such ease does come at a bit of a cost.

Japan can be a pretty exxy country for backpackers on a budget. Sure, alcohol is fairly cheap, but food, transport and accommodation are all on the pricier side, and even a short visit can dig a fairly deep hole in a persons pockets.

So, here are four fun things you can do in Tokyo that will only cost you the price of the subway fare!

1. Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji is not just the largest fish market in Japan, it is the biggest fish market in the world! This market draws crowds from early in the morning right through until mid afternoon.

At 5am the live tuna auctions occur, and though I didn’t see them myself, I have heard that they are well worth the early wake up call.

Eating here at the market isn’t the cheapest way to experience Japanese cuisine. However, if you are on a super strict budget, don’t be put off visiting because of this, there is still a tonne to see and explore even if you don’t want to spend much moolah.

Opening hours of the outer market depend on the stall but are usually open from 5am-2pm Monday to Saturday.

To get to Tsukiji from Tokyo Station, catch the Marunouchi subway line to Ginza Station. At Ginza, transfer to the Hibiya line and get off at Tsukiji Station. The fare is ¥170 ($2) one way.

Tsukiji-fish-market-tokyo-japan

Tsukiji-fish-market-tokyo-japan

Tsukiji-fish-market-tokyo-japan

Tsukiji-fish-market-tokyo-japan

Tsukiji-fish-market-tokyo-japan

2. Harajuku

Harajuku district may be touristy, it may be crazy and it may be so busy that you find yourself silently wishing for a new plague (my first thought whenever I encounter too much foot traffic) but visiting this famous little shopping district is well worth braving the crowds.

It is crazy, it is kooky and if you are in the market for some fun socks – look no further. I brought home a fantastic pair of ‘sashimi’ socks. Unfortunately, they didn’t last quite as long as I would’ve liked thanks to the messiness that comes with being a midwife!

To get to Harajuku from Tokyo Station, catch the JR Yamanote line bound for Shibuya and get off at Harajuku Station. The fare is free with JR Pass or approx ¥170 ($2) one way for non JR Pass holders.

harajuku-takeshita-tokyo-japan

harajuku-takeshita-tokyo-japan

3. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

If you want some spectacular views of the Tokyo skyline, then a trip to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building will be right up your alley.

Located in Shinjuku, this 243m skyscraper is the headquarters of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. As well as being a house of politics, it is also a house of observation.

On the 45th floor (203m high) there is an observation deck open to visitors – free of charge. This deck provides some truly stunning views of the city, and is a good way to spend 30 minutes or so. There is also a cafe and a few souvenir shops within this deck – but these are all seriously touristy and worth giving a miss.

To get to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building from Tokyo Station, catch the Marunouchi subway line bound for Ogikubo and get off at Nishi-Shinjuku Station. From Nishi-Shinjuku it is a pleasant 8 minute walk to the building. The subway fare is approx ¥170 ($2) one way.

tokyo-metropolitan-building-japan

tokyo-metropolitan-building-japan

tokyo-metropolitan-building-japan

4. Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine is a little slice of tranquility in the heart of Tokyo, provided that you visit early in the morning. By 11am this place is bloody packed, but if you visit before 8am you can enjoy a stunning oasis pretty much on your own.

Located adjacent to Harajuku’s incredibly busy Yamanote Station, if you didn’t actually visit this shrine you might not believe such solitude could exist in such close proximity to bustling Harajuku.

Numerous Torii gates lead the way towards the shrine, and though the shrine is beautiful, the Torii gates were my favourite part.

To get to Meiji Shrine from Tokyo Station, catch the Yamanote Line bound for Shibuya and disembark at Yoyogi Station. From here it is an easy 6 minute walk to the shrine.

meiji-shrine-tokyo-japan

meiji-shrine-tokyo-japan

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

29 thoughts on “A Few FREE Things You Can Do in Tokyo

  1. Handy tips dear. I quite like your idea of vising places in peace…..it means they are yours at least for sometime. I share a similar view. Hope to see more from you.

  2. people watching is a great way to spend some time for free in Tokyo especially in harajuku, you can also listen to some groups playing in the street, they are often quite good when they sing jpop.

    1. Totally agree! When I was walking around Harajuku I was lucky enough to spot an elderly Japanese man walking a small trolley full of cats who had bow ties on… if only I had been able to get my camera out fast enough!

  3. I agree, Harajuku is amazing and you definitely can’t miss it when visiting Japan. Even simply browsing the different shops and alleys without buying anything is a truly awesome experience!

  4. Ellen,
    I have enjoyed recently finding TTWS. Your writing is entertaining and I find your travel suggestions useful. Your use of photos is effective – enough to give a sense of place, interesting, humorous, but not so many as to overwhelm. (Some travel bloggers include every pic they took – I am not a fan). I hope you find my positive feedback uplifting to your wandering spirit! 😊

      1. We had some time to kill, so we hopped the Yamanote line and got off at a random stop. It just happened to be Harajuku. What a delight 😀

    1. Oh beautiful! I would love to have a doggo or two, but I would feel bad putting them in a kennel while I go off travelling 😦 I will have to wait till later in life before I get some cute dogs.

  5. The best free thing we ever did in Japan was to take a nap in the afternoon in Yoyogi Park under the cherry blossom trees when they were in full bloom….it was magical! And also we were tired from a midnight flight ha!

  6. Hi there-
    I can’t say i’ve done much solo travel (mostly just within the states) but as a 20 something female, stumbling across your blog has been really motivating! Would you consider Japan to be a good place to begin my solo travels? If you have any advice on how to get in the groove of traveling internationally on your own (and as a young woman), that would be wonderful 🙂

    thank you!!

  7. I’m heading to Tokyo next month and I found these tips really handy! How did you get on with train tickets? I’m doing some research online and I’ve found this pass you can buy but it seems so over priced (£205 for 7 days?!). Did you just buy your metro/train tickets there or in advance?

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