Five inexpensive Tokyo activities

Since Tokyo can easily break anyone’s travel budget, we have assembled a list of five inexpensive activities to keep you busy without burning all your travel funds in a day.

1) Admire the city’s architecture

An alley in Tokyo - Olympus PEN EPL-3, 18mm (36mm equivalent), f4, 1/80, miniature art filter

An alley in Tokyo – Olympus PEN EPL-3, 18mm (36mm equivalent), f4, 1/80, miniature art filter

Skyscrapers and Japanese ads - Olympus PEN EPL-3, 42mm (84mm equivalent), f7.1, 1/160, miniature art filter, cropped

Skyscrapers and Japanese ads – Olympus PEN EPL-3, 42mm (84mm equivalent), f7.1, 1/160, miniature art filter, cropped

Think of skyscrapers in every shape and size, lots of reflective glass and huge ads in Japanese. Head to Shinjuku to see impressive government buildings. Be stunned by the extravagant architecture of the fashion and design flagship stores on Omotesando Boulevard. Try to take your own picture of the famous Shibuya crossing. And if skyscrapers and modern architecture are not for you, visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens for calming Japanese landscape architecture.

Imperial Palace East Gardens - Olympus PEN EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f8, 1/250

Imperial Palace East Gardens – Olympus PEN EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f8, 1/250

2) Feel like the rudest person in the world

Traveling is not only about admiring buildings and statues, it is also about experiencing cultural differences. Japan offers you an ultimate experience in that respect. However polite, silent and well-educated you may be by the standards of your own country, you will find it very easy to stand out as the rudest person wide and far.

Here are some pro tips, all tested and tried, to take this experience to new heights: If staying in a smaller hostel, just leave your shoes on when you enter the place. Count the number of irritated looks you can get by eating a croissant on the subway. Speak without lowering your voice in any confined space you can find. Elevators are a good choice. Enter a department store and try to carry a T-Shirt across the three meters divide between the women’s and the men’s section or vice versa to show it to your travel partner.

For a more expensive but more discreet and yet equally impressive experience, go to a restaurant and measure the time it will take to order if you ignore the little electronic bell placed at your table and try to catch the waiter’s attention by making eye contact. Be aware though that you are probably going to offend the waiter with this behavior, even if it seems more polite by European standards.

3) Learn about the Tokyo’s history

The Edo-Tokyo Museum, scheduled to reopen in March 2015, is full of interactive displays and miniature models of the city at different times. It is not free but at 600¥ (around 4 Euros) it is not that expensive either, especially if you keep in mind that you can easily spent several hours in there. I mentioned it already in my list of top museums in Asia.

4) Eat sushi

Himawari in Shinjuku- Olympus Pen EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f3.5, 1/80

Himawari Sushi in Shinjuku – Olympus Pen EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f3.5, 1/80

Eating out can easily burn a big hole into your travel budget. The good news is however, that there is one type of food that is not incredibly more expensive than in Europe or the US: Sushi, especially at lunch time.

A place we liked was Himawari Sushi. We walked into it by chance while we were exploring Shinjuku, had fun with the taster plates with three kinds of salmon, paid not more than we were already used to pay for the cheapest noodle soups we could find. We were the only foreigners eating there during lunch time on a week day.

Cook preparing noodle soup in Shibuya - Olympus PEN EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f3.5, 1/60, cropped

Cook preparing noodle soup in Shibuya – Olympus PEN EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f3.5, 1/60, cropped

5) Visit Akiba on a Sunday

Lots of fun for 200¥ - Olympus Pen EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f3.5, 1/60, cropped

Lots of fun for 200¥ – Olympus Pen EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f3.5, 1/60, cropped

The main street of the electronic store-loaded shopping district Akihibara is closed to traffic on Sundays. We did not know about this when we first visited and were enchanted by the people watching opportunities before us.

Akiba with all its bright lights may not be a very well-hidden secret but its shops still stock enough weird items from manga porn to cat costumes to keep you wondering for long, and its slight nineties flair only made it more attractive for us. There is no need to buy anything to enjoy this area. Add huge halls full of slot machines, maid cafés and vending machines for just about everything and you will understand why you should not miss a visit to this part of the city.

A rainy evening in Akiba - Olympus Pen EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f3.5, 1/10,  grainy film filter

A rainy evening in Akiba – Olympus Pen EPL-3, 14mm (28mm equivalent), f3.5, 1/10, grainy film filter

Further reading:
Ticket tips for trains and subways in Tokyo – japancanmix.com
Three museums in Asia you should not miss – perelincolors.com
Himawari Sushi on TripAdvisor

Have you been to Tokyo? Care to share your favorite places and adventures in Tokyo with us?

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This article was published on perelincolors.com.

12 thoughts on “Five inexpensive Tokyo activities

  1. trablog

    What an interesting post! Thank you for warning us about the cultural shock and becoming a rude person!!
    Now I am really feeling like visiting Japan!! That is what happens to me whenever I read your posts!

    Like

  2. backpackerlee

    Nice list. I did always enjoy eating Sushi and admiring the architecture and scenery in Japan. But don’t forget the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku. It’s totally free to go up there and admire the views (unlike the tourist trap that is the Tokyo Skytree).

    Like

    1. perelincolors

      I would love to but we do not have any even remotely mature plans for another visit to Japan. We saw only Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo, so there’d be a lot left to see if we could go again.

      Like

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