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Top 15 free things to do in Tokyo

Glowing with neon-lit streets and skyscrapers that touch the sky, Tokyo is a city set in the future. Wander around Tokyo in the nights and you will feel like walking right into a sci-fi movie. At one side, there is modernity and on the other, the city is rooted in its traditions. Practically, you can get the best of both the worlds and if there is a way to explore all of it for free, then there is nothing like it. Here are the top 15 free things to do in Tokyo.

1. Tokyo Imperial Palace

 

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Home to the Emperor of Japan, the Tokyo Imperial Palace can be explored only on guided tours. But, the East Garden is open to the public for free exploration. The landscape here is very well-maintained and is a great place to jog. On Sundays, over 250 cycles are available free for rent at Palace Cycling on first come first serves basis. The garden is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

2. Shibuya Crossing

 

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When you are in Tokyo, you shouldn’t miss out the Shibuya crossing. It is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. Join the flurry of people crossing at Shibuya or indulge in people watching from atop the bridge corridor that links the Shibuya market and the Shibuya train station. Just the sight is fascinating.

3. Sensō-Ji

 

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The oldest Tokyo temple of Sensō-Ji is a great place to visit for free. Painted in bright colours, the ancient temple looks beautiful and overflows with people. Along the way, shop for traditional Japanese souvenirs from the stalls at Nakamise shopping street.

4. Harajuku

 

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Harajuku in Tokyo is where fashion explodes. Take a visit and you could find hordes of teenagers dressed up in the wildest of clothes wandering. From street musicians to cosplay artists to freestyle dancers, there is plenty of entertainment. Feel a little generous? Go shopping and slurp on the cotton candy ice cream.

5. Carrot Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government building

 

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Enjoy the free views of Tokyo from the Carrot tower and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. On a clear day, you might spot Mount Fuji, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, Meiji Jingu, and the dome, from the Metropolitan building. Both the observation decks have cafes where you can relax and watch the sunset.

Interesting read: 7 days in Japan – What can you do?

6. Rainbow bridge

 

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Suspended between the Shibaura Pier and the Odaiba waterfront, the Rainbow bridge at Odaiba is a landmark structure. But why call it rainbow when the colour of the bridge is actually white. During the night, the bridge is beautifully lit in red, white, and green. The lamps are powered by the solar energy obtained during the day. There is a dedicated platform to walk on the bridge which can be accessed from the Shibaura-futō station or the Tamachi station. Go on a leisurely stroll in the night as the breeze picks up and ogle at the views of the Tokyo Bay.

7. Meiji Shrine

 

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Be in harmony with nature at the Meiji Jingu. Set in the midst of an evergreen forest that is decorated with over 120,000 trees of 365 species, Meiji Shrine is the closest you will get to tranquillity. The shrine and its surroundings are so peaceful that you could even listen to the voice of God! Thanks to the large size of the shrine complex, the grounds are often used for weddings. Stop by the souvenir & coffee shops when you are done getting around.

8. Suntory Musashino Brewery and Museum of Yebisu

 

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Take the free one-hour beer tour at the Suntory Musashino brewery. Taking place every 30 mins between 10 am and 4 pm, the free tour comes with 3 glasses of freshly brewed beer along with a snack. Though the tour is in Japanese, you get free English electronic guides. To enjoy the free tour, it is recommended that you book in advance which also comes with a free shuttle ride from Babaigawara station. Alternatively, you could also visit the Museum of Yebisu beer. The entry here is free but taking a tour will cost you. Nevertheless, it is a unique experience. Both the Suntory brewery and Yebisu museum have souvenir shops where you can load up gifts for your friends.

9. Japanese Sake and Shōchū information centre

 

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Off we go from beer to sake. To know everything about the Japanese traditional rice wine, head to the Japanese Sake and Shōchū information centre. The entry to the centre is free. The menu has 32 different sakes. Pay 500 yen and you can taste 5 different sakes. Liked the taste? Why not grab a few bottles of Sake?

10. Sumo wrestling

 

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Watching sumo wrestlers live in action is one of the quintessential experiences you shouldn’t miss out in Japan. Yes, the sumo tournaments do cost a lot but there is another way you can watch them close. Catch them during their morning training session, Asageiko as it is called. These training sessions take place during the weekdays. They generally start between 6 am & 7 am and last for three hours. It is disrespectful to leave in the middle, so ensure you stay throughout the session and observe silence. Some of the stables you could check out are Arashio Beya, Musashigawa Beya, Kasugano Beya, and Takasago Beya. Do call them before visiting.

11. Boat ride along Yokojikkengawa Canal

 

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Drifting away in the Tokyo waters on a traditional Japanese wooden boat (wasen) is a unique experience. Wasen Tomo No Kai, an association in Tokyo as a way to preserve the cultural heritage offers free boat ride every once a week. To enjoy your free 10-min ride on the Yokojikkengawa Canal all you have to do is register your name on the guest list at the Yokojikkengawa Shinsui Park. The ride lasts for around 20-mins. There is also an option to learn rowing for free. They generally operate on Wednesdays and Sundays from 10 am to 2:15 pm.

12. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

 

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The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan is a fascinating place to visit in Tokyo. The astronomical research centre is a great place to learn about the universe and the mysteries that it beholds. Learn about the stars and go for a stroll across the lush environment that surrounds the observatory. Most of the observatory is free to access for the public. All you have to do is put your name up in the visitor’s list and you are free to explore. There are also events that get hosted during special days.

13. Advertising Museum Tokyo

 

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Ever wondered what happens behind all the advertisements that you watch on the television. If just the thought fascinates you, then there is a place that you should definitely check out – Advertising Museum Tokyo. Operating since 2002, the museum is dedicated to preserving advertisements and marketing-related publications. You can learn everything about the history of Japanese advertisements here and there is also a library from where you can access award-winning commercials. The prime location of the museum makes it a great stop and the entry is totally free.

14. National Diet Building

 

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Get to the centre of all the political activity by visiting the National Diet building. A meeting point of the House of the Counsellors and the House of the Representatives, the National Diet building is House of Cards in real. If you are into politics, then we recommend you take a tour which is free. The English tour at the House of Representatives starts at 3 pm during the weekdays, except Tuesdays when it takes place at 2 pm. Prior reservation should be done either over email or phone. Japanese tours for the same is available and doesn’t require a prior reservation. House of Counsellors has tours only in Japanese and does not require prior reservation. Both the free tours run for an hour and provide English pamphlets.

15. Megaweb Toyota City showcase

 

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An ardent lover of automobiles? Head to the Megaweb Toyota City showcase to get your hands on the cars of the future. Split into four parts: Toyota Showcase – where you can look & feel the cars lined up, History Garage – where you can learn everything about the car, and the Ride Studio – where your kids can drive mini-cars, and Ride One – where you get to take out your favourite car for a spin. Megaweb Toyota City is your favourite dream come true. What’s more interesting is, this isn’t a place to buy cars and there won’t be any pressure from the sales guy. So, there it is, you don’t shell a penny. Make sure you have a valid Japanese driver’s license or an equivalent International driver’s license to test drive. The attraction is open daily from 11 am to 9 pm.


There is nothing more satisfying than freebies. Why not plan a trip to Japan now so you can rejoice when you are there?

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