You don't actually need a huge budget to have a great time in Tokyo. Even if your time and budget are limited, Tokyo has so much to offer. Take a walk through Yanesen with its rich downtown ambience, join the Ginza gallery tour for an insight into the high end of Tokyo without breaking the bank, or enjoy some traditional performing arts at Kabukiza Ichimakumi. 

    Or if you can book ahead, why not check out the Suntory Musashino Beer Factory Tour or Aircraft Factory Tour of JAL and ANA? Join us as we go through some of the best Tokyo sites to enjoy on a limited budget, including classic experiences like a visit to the Imperial Palace.


    Asakusa Culture and Tourist Information Center

    A contemporary space offering free walking tours

    • Budget

    The Asakusa Culture and Tourist Information Center is located near the Buddhist Senso-ji temple in Tokyo. The centre opened in 2012 and has become a place for tourism advice and a sightseeing attraction. Stand across the street and admire the contemporary architecture. The building comprises a stack of 8 tiny 'houses' made of timber and glass with sloping roofs that rise horizontally.

    Inside, you'll find a cafe, an information counter, an exhibition space, and an observation deck. All the facilities are free to enter. Every weekend, the tourist centre hosts free English guided walking tours of Asakusa.

    Location: 2 Chome-18-9 Kaminarimon, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0034, Japan

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +81 338-425-566


    photo by Daniel L. Lu (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Touring the galleries of Ginza

    Ginza has many art galleries worth visiting, which you can appreciate artwork for free. The Shiseido Gallery, which opened its doors in 1919, is the oldest art gallery in Japan. There are always exhibitions to enjoy and gallery talks to participate. 

    Galerie Nichido is known for its collection of Western-style oil paintings. While its main gallery is located in Ginza, there are several branches in Paris and Taipei. Ginza Maison Hermès Le Forum is an art gallery with a large collection of contemporary art. Elsewhere, Chanel Nexus Hall holds many interesting photo exhibitions. If you fancy a bit of luxury and high-brow culture, Ginza is the place to be.


    photo by Wakuwaku99 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Walking in Yanesen

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    Yanesen is an area encompassing Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi in Tokyo. Largely unaffected by the Pacific War, it maintains a traditional and cosy atmosphere of Tokyo's old town. The streets have narrow alleys and a nostalgic character, with many temples and shrines such as Nezu-jinja Shrine, Otome Inari Shrine, Kanei-ji Temple and Saigyo-ji Temple. There’s also a stone stairway leading to Yanaka Shopping Street, otherwise known as Yuyakde Dandan (Japanese for 'sunset stairs') as you can see beautiful sunsets from here. 

    Yanaka Cemetery, where Tokugawa Yoshinobu (the 15th general of the Tokugawa Shogunate) and many other famous people are laid to rest, is also famous for its cherry blossoms. It's often packed out during peak cherry blossom season. Don't forget to grab some takeaway croquettes and sweets at Yanaka Shopping Street before heading there. JR Nippori Station is the best place for you to start a walking tour of the Yanesen area.

    Location: 3 Chome-13-7 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan


    photo by Doricono (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Tokyo Imperial Palace walking tours

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    The Tokyo Imperial Palace (originally the Castle of Edo) offers guided tours to the public every weekday morning and afternoon. Admission is free, and while you can make a prior registration, only 300 people can join the tour as it’s on a first-come-first-served basis. Numbered tickets will be distributed in front of the Kikyo-mon gate about 1 hour before the start of each tour. 

    Please remember that participants will be asked to present a valid ID. A walk through the meticulously maintained Imperial Palace grounds is an unforgettable experience. To get to the Kikyo-mon gate, it will take about 10 minutes on foot from Nijubashimae Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or from Otemachi Station on the Toei Mita Line, and about 15 minutes from the Marunouchi Central Exit of Tokyo Station on the JR Line.

    Location: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo 101-0001, Japan

    Open: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 11.15 am and from 1.30 pm to 2.45 pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays)

    Phone: +81 (0)3-3213-1111


    Aircraft factory tours (JAL/ANA)

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    Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) offer tours of their Haneda Airport maintenance facilities. Since both are very popular courses, you’ll need to book ahead but this is not to be missed if you’re keen on aeroplanes. 

    You can participate in both tours for free. They allow you to take a close look at actual plane maintenance in a huge industrial setting, which you’re never likely to see anywhere else. From Shin-Seibijō Station, the nearest station on the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line, it will take about 2 minutes on foot to the JAL facility and about 15 minutes to the ANA facility.

    Location: JAL: JAL Maintenance Center 1, 3-5-1 Hanedakuko, Ota, Tokyo 144-0041, Japan. ANA: ANA Aircraft Factory, 3-5-4 Hanedakuko, Ota, Tokyo 144-0041, Japan


    photo by Banku (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Suntory Musashino Brewery

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    Suntory Musashino Brewery is a well-renowned beer factory where you can enjoy a top-quality pint. At Suntory's first beer factory, which was established in 1963, The Premium Malts brand is brewed using spring water. You can take a free shuttle bus from Bubaigawara Station on the JR Nambu Line or the Keio Line. If you walk from Fuchuhommachi Station on the JR Line, it takes around 15 minutes to reach the brewery.

    Suntory Musashino Brewery offers a free guided tour (70 minutes), a free Premium Malts lecture (90 minutes), and a Master's Dream (90 minutes) course. Of course, you can enjoy a beer tasting during your visit. Don't forget to make a reservation in advance, either via its official website or by phone.

    Location: 3-1 Yazakicho, Fuchu, Tokyo 183-0025, Japan

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)42-360-9591


    photo by Fuchu (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Toden Arakawa Line

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    Fancy taking a small trip to enjoy the atmosphere of Tokyo's old town? In times gone by, Tokyo was full of trams, with 40 lines in operation at the peak of their popularity. Partly due to the development of the underground rail system, there is only 1 line operating in modern-day Tokyo. The Toden Arakawa Line, commonly called the Tokyo Sakura Tram, takes about 1 hour to travel between Minowabashi Station in Arakawa ward and Waseda Station in Shinjuku Ward.

    With a total of 30 stations along the line, you can visit countless sightseeing spots including Asukayama Park, popular as a cherry-blossom viewing place since the Edo era (about 1 minute from Asukayama Station), Kogan-ji Temple commonly known as Sugamo Togenuki Jizo-son (about 9 minutes from Koshinzuka Station), and Arakawa Furusato Bunkakan, where you can learn about the history of Arakawa (15-minute walk from Minowabashi Station). You should buy a one-day ticket if you want to get on and off as you like at any of the stations.


    photo by torne (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Okojyukkengawa Water Park

    • History
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    Head to Okojyukkengawa Water Park in the waterfront area of Koto Ward, where you can enjoy a ride on a Japanese-style ship to experience the city’s unique history of water transportation. In the Edo era, Tokyo was a city of waterways developed along rivers and canals. 

    To get to the park, it takes around 20 minutes from Sumiyoshi Station on the Toei Shinjuku Line or the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, or Toyocho Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line. You can even board a ship for free on designated days. Besides boarding a wooden Japanese-style ship, you can also try rowing if you want to.

    Location: 8-4 Umibe, Koto Ward, Tokyo 135-0012, Japan


    photo by TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Taking in a single act of a Kabuki theatre performance

    Kabuki-za Theatre is often seen as expensive and hard to get tickets for, but you can easily enjoy this art form at affordable prices. Single-act tickets for seats on the 4th floor of the auditorium are often available at reduced rates on the day of the performance. Tickets for non-reserved seats (usually about 90 seats) are sold on the left side of the entrance for a limited time. 

    Tickets will be individually numbered, and a staff member will call out the numbers to allow you to enter the auditorium. Earphone guides are available, so you’ll be able to follow what’s going on even if you’re not really familiar with kabuki. With a single-act ticket available at an affordable price of around ¥1,000, you can fully enjoy the atmosphere of the Kabuki-za Theatre. It’s located just outside Higashi-ginza Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.

    Location: 4-12-15 Ginza, Chuo Ward, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan

    Open: Vary by performance

    Phone: +81 (0)3-3545-6800


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