The Guide To Enjoying Tokyo On A Budget


ONSEN – Japan’s beloved onsen (hot spring baths) exist even in the capital, and have long offered an essential escape. In the historic, working-class Asakusa district, Jakotsu-yu shimmers with serene Mt Fuji artwork. Once you’ve cooked in the indoor bath, you ‘re ready for the lovely, lantern-lit outdoor bath.

ROPPONGI – One of Tokyo’s most impressive public spaces, the Roppongi Hills development is dotted with open-air art such as Louise Bourgeois’ giant metal spider Maman, and sculptural benches along Keyakizaka-dori. If you have yen to spend, choose from a trio of world-class art museums -the National Art Center Tokyo, the Suntory Museum of Art or the Mori Art Museum.

Maman, by Louise Bourgeois, alongside the Mori Tower.

KABUKIHighly nuanced and intensely visual, Japan’s iconic performing arts form blossomed during the 18th century, and an afternoon at the theatre has been a popular pastime ever since. Ifyou’reon a tight schedule, or budget, you can opt for a hitomakumi ticket for just one act. Rent a headset (from £3) for blow-by-blow explanations of the action in English.

TRANSPORT – ANA, BA and Japan Airtines fly direct to Tokyo from London (from £700; Non-direct flights with the likes of Lufthansa and Qatar Airways start at £480. Narita Airport is 36 miles east of Tokyo: the Narita Express (from £17) and Keisei Skyliner (£14) trains connect it to the city. The smaller Haneda Airport is much closer to the city centre. Some flights arrive in the middle of the night when a pricey taxi is your only option. Otherwise, take the Tokyo Monorail or Keikyu Line. Public transport is split between different companies, but a pre-paid Suica card can be used for almost all trains and buses.


Sawanoya Ryokan in quiet Yanaka has friendly staff and all the hospitality you would expect of a ryokan (traditional inn). You can rent bikes here to explore the area.

Atop a slope in a residential neighbourhood dose to the campus of the University of Tokyo, the venerable Homeikan is a beautifully crafted wooden ryokan with two adjacent wings and a third situated five minutes’ walk away.

One of the city’s few boutique hotels, the Shibuya Granbell Hotel is just moments from the heart of Shibuya, but very quiet for its central location.


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