10 Things to do on a Budget in Tokyo

August 28th, 2012By Category: Travel

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.


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.

Author of this article

John Asano

John Asano is a blogger, web developer and freelance writer living in Gifu, Japan. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, he writes about the must see sights and attractions in Japan at Japan Travel Advice, as well as about Japanese culture and events on his blog Japan Australia.

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  • leslie nguyen says:

    Wow to the vending machines in Japan! Great article especially for the fact that I am big on discounts!


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