Expenses are an inevitable part of traveling and sightseeing. However, there are many places in Tokyo where you can actually have fun without having to pay a cent. In this article we feature some places that you can enjoy for free.
1. The Bank of Japan Currency Museum
The Currency Museum was refurbished in 2015, and it features exhibitions of ancient and modern currency, along with explanations regarding their historical background. The collection includes currency made with stones or seashells, along with printed paper money featuring different people, and it is a lot of fun just to look at. In addition, you will find information regarding what you could buy and for how much with Japan's first circulated coinage (circa 708), and copper coins (1636), which helps in understanding the value of things in the past and how money was used in daily life back then. The museum includes corners where you can learn about the techniques used to prevent the forgery of current bills, and where you can experience the weight of lifting 100 million yen. Make sure you give it a try!
2. Japanese Sake Information Center "SAKE PLAZA"
Japanese alcoholic beverages, such as sake, shochu, and awamori, are very popular not only within the country but also overseas. In this information center, you will learn the basics of Japanese sake and how to enjoy it through their easy to understand exhibition and documents. The walls display sake bottles collected from all over the country one next to the other, in a total number of around 800! The labels on each of the bottles are all really unique, so just looking at them is a lot of fun. In addition, there is a sales corner where you can purchase each breweries' vaunted sake and shochu and there is also a sake tasting experience available where you can taste 5 of the labels available for purchase (charges apply). This is just irresistible for sake lovers! If you are going to visit, keep in mind that the center closes on weekends and public holidays.
3. Free panoramic lobby on the Shinjuku Center Building
If you want to enjoy the view of the big metropolis of Tokyo for free, we recommend the "Shinjuku Center Building". You can enjoy a panoramic view of the Shinjuku and Shibuya areas from the panoramic lobby on the 53rd floor of the building, where you can also find a variety of restaurants. You can also see landmarks like the Tokyo Tower and Roppongi Hills a little far in the back. We recommend the night view. This building is not very well known as a place to enjoy the view of Tokyo by night, so if you visit on a weekday night, you will be able to enjoy the unique view of the lights of the skyscrapers. The building also houses a variety of restaurants ranging from fast food to proper Japanese cuisine, so you can even enjoy dinner here.
4. Japan Football Museum
If you want to know about the history of soccer in Japan, how about paying the "Japan Football Museum", in Bunkyo ward, a visit? The Upper Stand on the 1st floor and the Lower Stand on the 1st basement level are admission free, and they feature irresistible contents for football lovers, such as a booth introducing the clubs of the J. League, a trophy display, and a Hall of Fame featuring the footprint of MVP players, which are designated yearly. It is nice to note that all information is displayed in both Japanese and English. The JFA House, where the Football Museum is located, also houses the Japan Football Association headquarters, so it is not rare for people related to the J. League to visit it. If you are lucky, you may even meet your favorite player here!
5. Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum
The Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum is located in the Tokyo Shitamachi, Taito-ku, and here you can learn about the shitamachi culture during the Edo period (1603 - 1868) and traditional crafts. The exhibition features cabinets (furniture), metalwork (cups and pots), and portable shrines (used in religious festivals) born from the history and climate of the Edo period, providing the visitors with knowledge regarding the culture at the time. On weekends, artisans specialized in traditional crafts take part in live performances making crafts, which we definitely recommend seeing. At the souvenir corner you can buy traditional crafts from the Edo period, which makes it a very popular spot both among Japanese people and tourists from overseas. The museum is located at walking distance from the Sensoji temple in Asakusa, so how about dropping by to enjoy the charming atmosphere of the Edo shitamachi, along with its culture and crafts, after a visit to the temple?
This article has featured a selection of places that you can visit for free in Tokyo. Please use it as a reference and try and visit some of them.
*Please note that the prices and other information in the article may not be the most up-to-date information.