Ten Free Things To Do In TokyoTen Free Things To Do In Tokyo
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Ten Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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Ten Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

Traveling in Japan is not cheap, and Tokyo is by no means an exception.  Being the capital and close to the biggest international airport, Tokyo is the by far the most visited city in Japan and with its popularity comes a great deal of expensive attractions.  It can be hard to find free and at the same time interesting things to do in this city, but that’s where Travel Panda comes in.

Travel Panda has put together our list of the Top Ten Free Things to do in Tokyo, which we hope includes something for everyone.  On our list we include everything from historical Tokyo to the new, sometimes strange, modern city that we all know and love.  Like we said Tokyo can be expensive, but if you check out the attractions on our list you can have an incredible, yet free, vacation in Tokyo.  Our list is not perfect, if by chance you disagree with how we ranked these attractions or have an idea of what we should have included please let us know in the comments!

 

 

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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#10:   Yasukuni Shrine

 

The famous and sometimes controversial, Yasukuni Shrine, is a fantastic and historic shrine devoted to honoring Japan’s fallen soldiers.  The shrine was founded in 1869 as a Shinto shrine to honor those who died for Japan in battle.  The government had funded and played a huge role in the shrine for decades, but after World War 2 and the forced separation of church and state, the shrine became independent of the government.  Yasukuni Shrine is also the resting place of a few war criminals, which has created a bit of controversy throughout the years.  The shrine has heaps of memorial statues and buildings to check out, but the main attraction lies with the head shrine or “Honden.”  Before reaching the shrine visitors will pass through three fairly big purifying “Torii” gates.  Also around the shrine, visitors can find a dove cove holding around 300 doves and a sumo ring that held a sumo tournament to celebrate the construction of the shrine.

The museum next to the shrine, Yushukan, holds artifacts and information from Japan’s history of war.  The museum displays everything from ancient samurai swords to World War 2 planes.  The museum displays everything from impressive samurai swords and armor to planes flown in World War 2.  The Yushukan, unfortunately, is a paid attraction (800 Yen), but the shrine is free for anyone to come and admire.

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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#9:   Zojoji Temple

 

The Zojoji Temple can be found near the iconic Tokyo Tower, and offers some of the best opportunities to photo Tokyo’s mix of new and old.   The temple was established back in 1393, but was moved to its current location in 1598 when it was made into the Tokugawa family temple.  Now the temple even serves as the Tokugawa Mausoleum, or the resting place of the Tokugawa family.  The temple has been through several fires and earthquakes, and the majority of the buildings on the temple grounds are reconstructed.  The “Sangedatsumon Gate” however, has survived all of the disasters and has served as the main entrance to the temple since 1622.  The temple does serve as the head temple of the Jodo Sect of Japanese Buddhism in the Kanto region, and displays some sacred texts for visitors to come and see.

What makes this temple stand out for the casual tourist though is its proximity to Tokyo Tower.  This massive red tower pierces its way through the Tokyo skyline and towers above this temple in a beautiful mix of old and new Japan.  The temple serves as a reminder of what used to be ,while the tower offers an example of where the future is taking the city.  It is beautiful symbol of Tokyo, and the best part is that it is 100% free.

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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#8:   Ryogoku

 

Although very few outside of Japan understand the sport of Sumo, it is immediately recognizable through its massive athletes wearing diaper like shorts.  The sport has become an icon of Japan yet is widely misunderstood by most of the world. The district of Ryogoku hopes to educate individuals about the sport and its athletes.  At Ryogoku visitors can enter the Sumo Stadium that is the location of half of each year’s tournaments.  The stadium is massive and seats roughly 10,000 people.  Visitors can enjoy seeing the stage where the wrestlers engage in their match.  Visitors to Ryogoku can even set up a tour of a “Sumo Stable” to see where the wrestlers train.  The training can be brutal, but it is an eye opening experience that most visitors to Japan overlook.  Often times the stable will require scheduling in advanced and may require a Japanese speaker.  While in the area there are several museums including the Tokyo Memorial Hall and the Great Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum that visitors can enjoy for free.  Also the Kyu-Yasuda Teien Garden is a beautiful Japanese garden that contains a large pond that is perfect for a relaxing stroll after a day full of sumo.

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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 #7:   Ueno Park

 

Tokyo has several enormous parks for the public to enjoy.  One of the more famous of these parks is the Ueno Park that can be found right outside Ueno Station.  The park has become famous throughout Japan for being a great place for Cherry Blossom Viewing in the early Spring.  During the two weeks that these flowers are in bloom, the paths of the park is covered in a pink sky of Cherry Blossoms, and with the blossoms come crowds and crowds of people.  Even without the Cherry Blossoms, the park is beautiful.  There are several fantastic temples that are free to explore as well as an enormous pond that is the centerpiece of the park.  There are two paths that lead out into the center of the pond to an island that contains an important temple by the name of Bentendo.  The park also contains a great deal of museums including the National Museum of Science, Art, and even the Tokyo National Museum.  All of the museums are very much worth looking into, but they all have an admission fee of around 600 yen.

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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#6:   Odaiba (Rainbow Bridge)

 

Odaiba is a man made island that can be found in Tokyo Bay.  The island houses some new and impressive buildings and shopping malls that can be great to check out, but the real attraction here is the Rainbow Bridge.  Rainbow Bridge is a giant suspension bridge that crosses the northern part of Tokyo Bay.  Since its completion in 1993, the 798 meter suspension bridge has become a symbol of the area and one of the must see night attractions in Tokyo.  The bridge is a beautiful white during the day, but at night is lit up which gives a fantastic contrast against the Tokyo skyline.  At night the pillars are often lit up red, yellow, green, and blue giving the bridge its name, “ Rainbow Bridge.“  One of the best places to observe the bridge is from a nearby mall that contains several observation decks as well as a miniature statue of liberty.

The bridge is completely free to cross and view, but the best way to get to an observation deck is by train, which will cost a few dollars.  Take the Yamanote Line to Shinbashi Station and transfer to the Yurikamone Line.

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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 #5:   Shibuya

 

Shibuya is one of Toky’s most famous and lively districts.  The area is well known for its fashion, numerous people, and its own Shibuya culture.  There are heaps of little attractions that will make wandering the streets of Shibuya a fantastic experience for all who come.   Once exiting out of the station, visitors can lose themselves in the crowd at the world famous, “Shibuya Crossing.”  At any given light, hundreds of people will cross at once.  Depending on the time and day, the number could be upwards of 3,000 people crossing the street at once.  The crossing is certainly something to experience, but it maybe better to watch from afar.  The Starbucks opposite of the station offers a second floor observatory that gives a fantastic view of the crossing.  Although the crossing is free, the Starbucks Observatory will cost you the price of a cup of coffee.

Once finished with your coffee and the crossing, head to Shibuya 109, Shibuya’s premier shopping center, for some of the district’s famous fashion.  The shopping center is well known for its outrageous fashion, loud music, and just being a hub for young people in the area.  The building many floors are mostly devoted to women’s clothing, but every once and awhile there will be an odd store with costumes to check out.  certainly an interesting experience to say the least.

On the way back to Shibuya Station, visitors can enjoy the celebrated statue of the famous dog, “Hachiko.” The story goes that for years Hachiko would meet his owner at the entrance of the subway station everyday after work.  One day, the owner had died while at work and never came back.  Hachiko, determined and loyal to his owner, returned to the station everyday for years even after the owner’s death.  It is a story of loyalty that touches the hearts of people all over the world.  The statue is here to honor the story and is believed to bring good luck to anyone who rubs it.  All in all, Shibuya offers several free and unique experiences that are essential to a vacation in Tokyo.

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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#4:   Meiji Shrine

 

Meiji Shrine, or Meiji Jingu, is located in the heart of Tokyo, right outside the popular Harujuku Station.  The shrine grounds can be compared to a dense forest, and is a breath of literal fresh air in one of the world’s largest and most compact cities.  A walk through the shrine’s grounds will make you forget that you are even in a city at all.  The path to the shrine has several side paths that are interesting to explore, including several paid exhibits including the beautiful “Inner Garden”  and the “Treasury House” which both cost 500 Yen each.  These side trips are interesting and well worth the money, but the main shrine itself is massive and is one of the most visited shrines in all of Japan.  The shrine is considered to be one of the most beautiful in all of Tokyo and is a common place for wedding photos as well as numerous other ceremonies.  Meiji Shrine Meiji Shrine is also one of the biggest places of worship in all of Tokyo. During New Years, the shrine can have upwards of 3 million visitors come and worship.  So be respectful while visiting.

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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#3:   Imperial Palace

 

Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, just a short walk from Tokyo Station, was once the former location of the famous Edo Castle but is now the site for a massive public park.  Visitors can enjoy traditional styled bridges, moats, castle walls, as well as some pristine Japanese gardens that will surely be one unforgettable experience.  The palace itself is home to Japan’s imperial family, and is closed off to the public majority of the year.  One of the favorite views from the palace is of the stone “Nijubashi Bridge.”  The bridge is now often referred to as “Megane Bashi” (Glasses Bridge) for its resemblance to a pair of glasses.  Along with the Imperial Palace, visitors can enjoy the East Gardens which are set aside for the public.  Here visitors can see some of Edo Castle’s ruins as well as some traditional Japanese gardens.  The gardens are closed on Mondays and Fridays, but are free to enjoy any other time.

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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#2:   Senso Ji Temple

 

Senso Ji, Tokyo’s iconic temple, is one of the city’s most traveled to attractions.  The temple is located in Asakusa and is Tokyo’s oldest temple.  One of the most recognizable attractions at the temple is its main gate. The main gate holds a giant red lantern with the character for “Lightning” or 雷 (Kaminari) written on it.  Past the “Kaminari Gate,” visitors can enjoy the souvenir shops of Nakamise-dori.  Both traditional Japanese snacks and modern souvenirs are sold here.  Nakamise-dori is one of the few places in Tokyo where you can find interesting souvenirs for your friends and family members back home.  After the souvenir stands, visitors can visit the Hozomon Gate and the main hall Hondo.  Hozomon means “Treasure House Gate” and is massive.  The gate stands in front of the main hall Hondo, and is next to a five story pagoda.  The buildings are picturesque, but be considerate to those who are worshiping inside.

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Free Things To Do In Tokyo

 

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#1:   Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, or Tokyo MGB, is an enormous skyscraper found in the heart of Shinjuku.  The MGB is impressive inside and out.  All around the building you will find statues and other art that is sure to impress. The building is split into two twin towers that rise to a height of 202 meters.  The top floor of each tower is reserved for an observation deck that gives one of the best views of the city.  The towers are placed in a fantastic location to give you a phenomenal view of all of Tokyo, and when the weather is good, you can even see Mt. Fuji.  At the center of each deck are gift shops and even little cafes to enjoy.

With new towers, like Tokyo Sky Tree, overshadowing the Tokyo MGB, it can be easy to forget about the Shinjuku skyscraper.  However, the MGB offers one of the greatest views of Tokyo, and the best part is, it’s completely free.

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