5 Free Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

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Any list of the world’s most expensive cities includes Tokyo, Japan. Visiting a city that is so atrociously expensive can be daunting for any traveler on a budget; however, despite the expensive cost of hotels and transportation around the country, sight-seeing in Tokyo can be a bargain.

Here’s a list of five great things to see in Tokyo, Japan for free.

The Rainbow Bridge

Constructed in 1993, the Rainbow Bridge connects Shibaura Pier with Odaiba, an upscale waterfront district. The bridge is over 700 meters long and provides excellent views of Tokyo. The Rainbow Bridge is a fantastic place to visit at sunset as you can see the city as the lights come on.

A walk across the bridge takes about an hour, counting the walk to the subway station on either end, though it could take longer depending on how often you stop to take photos. There is a walkway on either side of the bridge, with the northern side providing much better views of the city.

The rainbow bridge walkway is open from 9am to 9pm in the summer months and 10am to 6pm in the winter.

Trying out a personal 3D TV viewer at the Sony Showroom.
Trying out a personal 3D TV viewer at the Sony Showroom.

The Sony Showroom

Tokyo is the home to some of the biggest electronic companies in the world and often sees the latest gadgets before the rest of the world.

One of the best ways to see the latest technology is to head to the Sony Showroom, which is in the heart of downtown, only a short walk from Tokyo Station.

Taking up four floors of the Sony Building, the Showroom features all of Sony’s latest gadgets, including some that aren’t on the market yet.

While there in December 2011, I was able to try personal 3D TV viewer which was pretty amazing. They also have interactive displays of televisions, cameras, camcorders, and other gadgets.

The Sony Showroom is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in electronics.

The entrance to Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan.
The entrance to Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan.

Meiji Shrine

Originally built in 1926 to honor the deceased Emperor Meiji and Empress  Shōken, Meiji Shrine was destroyed during World War 2, only to be rebuilt in 1953. Meiji Shrine is a Shinto Temple in the heart of Shibuya, a trendy shopping district in the heart of Tokyo. However, when you enter the Shrine’s grounds, filled with 120,000 trees, it is easy to forget that you are in the middle of the world’s largest city.

Meiji Shrine features several large torii gates and several beautiful buildings. It is fantastically decked out for the New Year, making it a must-see that time of year.

See the City From Above at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The view from the observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
The view from the observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

There are several options for seeing Tokyo from above, but none offer better views, or a better price than the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

Sitting in the heart of downtown Tokyo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the tallest building in Tokyo and features two fantastic observation decks on the 44th floor of the each of the buildings two towers.

Open from 9:30am to 11pm everyday, the towers provide views of not just the city, but also Mount Fuji on a clear day.

Imperial Palace East Gardens

The Imperial Palace of the Japanese Emperor.
The Imperial Palace of the Japanese Emperor.

Located in the center of downtown Tokyo, the Imperial Palace is the home of Japanese Emperor Akihito. The palace is designed in a traditional Japanese style and surrounded by fantastic gardens.

The palace itself is only open two days a year; however, the East Gardens of the Palace are open everyday of the week, except for Mondays and Fridays.

The grounds feature beautifully manicured grounds, some historic structures, and many pleasant walking paths. They are a great place to unwind for a few hours after the hustle and bustle of the city.

Have you traveled to Tokyo? Do you have any other suggestions for fantastic free sights to see in Tokyo? Let us know in the comments below.


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15 thoughts on “5 Free Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan”

  1. Thanks for the tips. I love Tokyo, saw the Rainbow Bridge and Meiji Shrine while I was living there, but missed the rest. Have you been to the top of the Mori tower in Roppongi? The view from up there is spectacular as well!

    Another free thing I would personally recommend is going out to Harajuku and wandering around, particularly Takeshita-Dori. Even if fashion is not your thing, you will still have a blast — and probably a hard time believing your eyes.

    • Walking around Harajuku is another great idea. I went while I was in Tokyo, but didn’t see to many crazy outfits. It would have definitely made my list if I expanded it to 7 or 8 Free Things to Do in Tokyo.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Another “must” see is the wholesale fish market Tsukiji. Said to be the largest in the world. The scale of the operations and the variety is truly memorable. 1 hour of walk around is the minimum.

  3. These aren’t self-titled attractions per se, but often department stores and the ground level section of the West Shinjuku exit hold prefectural fairs, where you can sample foods from those regions. A related topic, many Japanese prefectures have brick-and-mortar antenna shops dotted throughout Tokyo, where they showcase famous eats from their region (not usually as sit-down places though) as well as other tangibles, depending on the prefecture. I’m not aware of a good English link, but here’s a Japanese one regarding antenna shop addresses in Tokyo: http://antenashop.enjoytokyo.jp/list/

    …on a tangential note, there’s the Parasite Museum in Meguro.

  4. I am going to Japan and will stay n Tokyo for days on Dec. Your ideas was noted. I am happy for the info you shared. By the way, do you know any/ can recommend affordable, safe, clean and convenient hotels or inns close to Haneda airport? Hope to hear from you. Thank you.

    • Thanks for the comment, and I hope you enjoy your trip to Japan. Unfortunately, I’m not too familiar with hotels outside of downtown Tokyo, but doing a quick search on TripAdvisor shows good reviews and pricing for Tokyo Inn Haneda Airport 2. Hope that helps.


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