Sights and activities for smaller budgets 小予算の訪問
The Port of Thunder, Kaminari-mon, marks the entrance to the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa (Tokyo).
Path through the bamboo grove Arashiyama
Credit: Wesley Chen
Ideas for cheap visits
Japan is traditionally perceived as a rather expensive destination. However, many free or inexpensive activities are on offer if you know where to look. In addition to simply walking the fascinating streets of Japan, here are some activity ideas and sights in Japan accessible to all budgets!
Visit temples and gardens
- In Tokyo
Many temples can be visited for free. East of the capital, the large, well-known temple located in Asakusa, Senso-ji, is a beautiful way to immerse yourself in traditional Japan. Likewise, Meiji-jingu Shrine, in the heart of Yoyogi Park, is the largest Shinto shrine in Japan and has free access.
- In Kyoto
Visiting Fushimi Inari and its tunnels of torii is undoubtedly a must-see, not to mention that climbing this mountain, passing under the famous red gates is free.
Kodai-ji is a beautiful temple in eastern Kyoto for Zen lovers. With its gardens, bamboo, wooden bridges and Zen gardens, it embodies Japanese delicacy. The visit is very complete and worth the detour, for a modest fee (600 yen).
The beautiful bamboo grove of Arashiyama is a pleasure to walk through after a pleasant stroll along the Katsura river.
For those who want to discover the landscapes around Kyoto, Mount Kurama is a nice zen outlet: the train ride to go there costs just 420 yen, and access to the main temple is 200 yen.
Japan Experience also offers a guided night walk in Kyoto for $19!
Admire panoramic views
- In Tokyo
Instead of going to the Tokyo Skytree, which is expensive to access, you can enjoy city views for free , by visiting the 45 th floor of the panoramic observatory of Tokyo City Hall, west of Shinjuku. Near Asakusa, the Asahi Sky Room bar also offers a beautiful view, especially at night, for the price of a drink.
To discover : The best bars with views of Tokyo
- In Osaka
If you're traveling to Osaka on a budget, don't miss the Umeda Sky Building to enjoy a beautiful view! Access to the thirty-fifth floor costs 800 yen, for a breathtaking view of the city via a circular observatory.
See: Umeda Sky Building
- In Kyoto
The Kyoto Tower, near the railway station, is the only 360° observation platform in Kyoto. It rises to 131 meters, and access will cost you 770 yen.
See: Kyoto Tower
Enjoy cultural outings at a low price
On the side of Tokyo museums, the beautiful National Museum of Tokyo in Ueno offers a discovery of the cultural history of Japan since ancient times, with more than 3,000 works, for a more than reasonable fee (620 yen). Also note that the Archaeological Museum of the City of Kyoto is free!
If you're a theater lover and want to see what a Japanese opera looks like, head over to Kabuki-Za in Tokyo for a 1 hour Kabuki play for just 1,400 yen ($13). To keep the mood traditional, the Imperial Hotel Toko-an is without a doubt one of the best places in Tokyo to attend a tea ceremony that respects of the rules of art and for a reasonable price. This prestigious hotel located in Chiyoda offers a 20 minute ceremony, with tea and a Japanese sweet, at 2,000 yen (about $19) per person, all in a traditional Zen atmosphere.
To read: Kabuki Theater
If you want to see sumo in action but the ticket for a match is too expensive, there's a solution: outside of tournament periods, it's possible to attend an early morning sumo training session in Tokyo, in the Ryogoku district. It's advisable to book ahead, for example at the Tomozuna-Beya stable, which accepts reservations by e-mail and in English.
Another original and practical activity for the small budget is to visit a beer, whiskey or sake brewery. In Kyoto, visiting the Suntory Brewery, for example, is free. Finally, a visit to Tsukiji fish market at dawn is also free, and a must for visitors to Japan!
Discover some low-cost activities offered by Japan Experience:
- Japanese whiskey tasting (Kyoto) - $38
- Nishiki Market discovery (Kyoto) - $19
- Cycling in Fukuoka - $19
A kabuki performance
A seafood restaurant in Tsukiji market