Free Bird’s Eye View of Tokyo
On the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku (west exit) there are two free observation galleries. With stunning views of Tokyo, Mount Fuji and Yokohama, this has to be one of the best free gifts the city has to offer.
Open: 09:30am to 05:30 (07:30 on Sunday). Closed: Monday (Tuesday if Monday was a public holiday).
Tel 5321 1111.
Free Shrines, Temples, Pagoda and Palaces
The Imperial Palace
There’s free admission into the grounds of most shrines and temples. Tokyo’s most famous are the Meiji Jingu Shrine, Yasukuni Shrine, Sensoji Temple (in Asakusa) and Zojoji Temple (near Tokyo Tower). Don’t forget too, the Imperial Palace.
Higashi-Gyoen – The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace (Tokyo Station)
The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace are amongst Tokyo’s most beautiful. Inside you’ll also find a museum housing Emperor Showa’s art collection. Entrance is free. Open: 09:00 am – 04:30 pm (last admission – 04:00pm).
Yoyogi Park (JR Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line)
On a Sunday when Yoyogi Park becomes the centre stage for street performers and bands it’s free entertainment all day!
Ueno Park (UENO KOEN) (JR Ueno Station on the JR Yamanote Line).
Ueno Park is famous for it’s cherry blossoms and lotuses. The lotuses bloom in summer, the cherry blossoms in late March /early April.
The Sumo Wrestling Museum (JR Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu Line)
The Sumo Wrestling Museum is next to the Kokugikan Sumo Wrestling Stadium. The exhibits include pictures of the all-time greats and various bits of memorabilia. (10:30 am – 04:30 pm most days) Another free museum – the Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum, is close by.
The NHK Broadcasting Museum (Near to Kamiyacho Station on the Hibiya Subway Line)
With a chance to read your own news bulletin (in English), the NHK Broadcasting Museum also looks at how the 1964 Tokyo Olympics advanced broadcasting technology. (9:30 to 4:30 Tuesday to Sunday).
The Kanto Eathquake Memorial Museum (JR Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu Local Line)
Situated in the grounds of Tokyo Memorial Temple, the Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum acknowledges the devastation and loss of life which occurred during the 1923 earthquake. (9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Closed on Mondays.) The Sumo Wrestling Museum (also free) is close by.
Free Places to Soak Up the Atmosphere
For a good view of the city skyline go to the promenade that runs along the front of the Decks Shopping Mall in Odaiba. (Take the Yurikamome Monorail from JR Shimbashi Station to Odaiba Kaihen Koen Station)
To see more people than you’ve ever seen before, try walking through Shinjuku Station in the rush hour, standing at the Ginza Sukiyabashi crossing, or crossing the road next to the Hachiko Exit of Shibuya Station.
For the eccentric and bizarre side of life, go to Harajuku on a Sunday.
To feel bang up to date with the latest technology, go to Akihabara.
With all the latest gadgets to try out, the Sony Building in Ginza (near to the Sukiyabashi Crossing) is open everyday from 10:00am to 08:00pm.
Toyota Mega Web in Pallette Town, Odaiba is a gigantic car showroom featuring cars of the future. It’s open 11:00 am to 9:00pm daily. Tel 0070 800 489 000.
Free Internet Access
In the T-Next Toshiba Showroom in Shinjuku, you can have up to one hour’s free internet access. The showroom is located on the ninth floor of the Park Tower building. (Leave Shinjuku Station via the South Exit, walk down Koshu Kaido Dori Avenue towards Hatsudai; it’s then close to the Washington Hotel). Open 10:00am to 06:00pm, closed on Wednesdays. Tel 03 5322 1048.
Almost Free Shopping (100YEN)
With everything inside (food, souvenirs, stationery, toiletries etc) costing only 100 yen, look out for the “100 Yen” shops! There’s one in most districts – the branch in Shibuya has five floors!
Free Food and (Coffee Refills)
It’s free samples galore in the basement food halls of many department stores. Alternatively try the Nakimese Shopping Arcade in Asakusa (Ginza Line or TOEI Asakusa Line).
Coffee shops and fast food restaurants don’t usually offer free refills but Wendy’s in Ginza is the exception, as are some branches of McDonalds – watch out for the signs (in English) behind the counter.
The listings magazine Metropolis is free, and can be picked up from English book stores around Tokyo.
You won’t need to buy tissues in Tokyo. For advertising purposes packet upon packet is given out free in the street every day.
Other free attractions