Discovering Tokyo – Japan

The capital of Japan is a happy, exciting place, with tonnes of cheap and free things to do. Start with a free guided tour led by volunteers and become familiar with the layout of the city.

Stroll through the vast green spaces and foliage of Meiji Jingu and neighbouring Yoyogi Park; the latter featuring cosplay at times, which makes for a great evening. Tsukiji fish market is a must-see, and the best time is early morning. A session at the relatively cheap Jakotsuvu Onsen will help you get to sleep early.

Meiji Jingu Shrine – Tokyo

During the day, you can take a free guided tour of the Imperial Palace grounds, conducted by the Imperial Household Agency. Plan to go on a Sunday, when you can rent a cycle for the picturesque moat-and-pine-tree-view 3km course around the grounds. Do also visit Sensoji Temple, then wander its nearby winding lanes that offer bargain shopping, and head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building sky tower for stunning and importantly, free, views of the city at night.

Imperial Palace - Tokyo
Imperial Palace – Tokyo

If it’s your thing, lose yourself in yourself in anime at the Tokyo Anime Centre, and trawl the streets of Akihabara for the latest in gadgets and toys. Or pick up arty skills at Origami Kaikan and watch sumo wrestling practice sessions at Arashio Beya. But, most importantly, download a translation app at Narita Airport, so you can take a screenshot of the Japanese translation for “Is it free of charge?” and travel smart.

Arashio Beya

LEAVE ON A JET PLANE: Return flights start at 557 USD from Mumbai and New Delhi VISA: 7USD

GET AROUND: Tokyo’s metro system is sugoi (wonderful). Taxis will burn through your entire budget. Get a SUICA Pass, which also works at convenience stores. For train travel outside of Tokyo, get a Japan Rail Pass and plan your dates carefully.

STAY: Tokyo’s hostels are some of the nicest you could find. Look in the central Ikebukuro area, which is cheaper than overpriced Shinjuku. Options include Book and Bed Tokyo, Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro, Bunka Hostel Tokyo and The Ryokan Tokyo Yugawara.

EAT AND DRINK: When in Japan, eat ramen – it’s cheap and delicious. Grab breakfast at a 7-Eleven, where you will also find bento boxes for days on the go, or beer at half the rate when compared to bars. Fast food chain MOS Burgers has cheap, delicious burgers made to order, with a vegetarian option. Oh, and don’t forget to treat yourself to sake at an izakaya (local pub).

WHEN TO GO: Not during sakura (cherry blossom) season for sure. Despite rain and typhoons, June to July and September to December respectively are better.

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