Japan has a reputation for being one of the most expensive countries to visit, and its capital city of Tokyo can be especially tough on the pocketbooks of budget travelers. With accommodations and food eating up a large chunk of your travel budget, many budget travelers will complain that there isn’t any money left over for sightseeing. Or is there? Despite the fact that Tokyo is expensive, it still manages to provide a number of top-notch free attractions that showcase its unique culture and diverse lifestyle.
1. Tsukiji Fish Market
If you aren’t afraid of getting up early – try 4:30am – the Tokyo Fish Market is guaranteed to be a most memorable event of your time in Tokyo. Catch the early morning fish auction near Tsukijishijo Station. The inner market is a wholesale market where fish processing and auctions take place in the wee hours of the morning. Outside the market, you’ll find shops selling Japanese kitchen tools, groceries, seafood and the freshest sushi restaurants in town. The market is open early on mornings except Sunday. The auctions begin shortly after 5am and are over by 7am. Access to the market has been banned during high season.
2. Odaiba and Tokyo Bay
Odaida and the Tokyo Bay area is simply beautiful if you’re looking for a view of the city skyline. A popular place for family outings and barbeques in the park, Odaiba Bay’s Promenade runs alongside the park and will take you right to the doors of Decks Shopping Mall.
3. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku (west exit) has two free observation galleries on the 45th floor and offers a stunning view of Mount Fuji, Yokohama and the beautiful city of Tokyo.
4. Harajuku District
If pop culture and cosplay are what you are after, a visit to Harajuku promises to deliver. Harajuku is well-known for its boutiques and bistros and famous for its Harajuku Kids and Cos-play-zoku aka The Costume Play Gang. A day spent here is a day in voyeur’s paradise.
5. Shinjuku Station
Known as one of the busiest places on Earth, Shinjuku Station at rush hour is a sight to behold. You’ll see more people in one place than you’ve ever seen before at the Ginza Sukiyabashi crossing or at the Hachiko Exit of Shibuya Station.
6. Yoyogi Park
Yoyogi Park on Sunday offers free entertainment and loads of visual appeal. This beautiful park is a gathering place for live performances, artists, drumming circles, flower children and the occasional rave.
Did someone say free food? Yes, indeed. Most department stores in Tokyo offer free samples in their basement food halls.
A visit to Akihabara, Tokyo’s largest electronic store, is bound to impress. Listen to the latest music, or test-drive the latest gadgets and gadgets. After you’re done window-shopping, wind down with a free massage from one of the massage chairs on display in the furniture department.
NOTE: The following photos have all been made available under a Creative Commons License on Flickr. Please click on each photo to go to the photographers photostream.