Expensive Tokyo living got you down? Are you staring another three-day weekend in the face and wondering what havoc it will wreak on your wallet?

There are places to enjoy yourself for free all over Tokyo, if you know where to look. RocketNews24 has sifted through the many options and has come up with 12 suggestions that will not disappoint. Try them next time you have a last-minute date or cobwebs in your billfold!


[1] Three Free Beers, Lecture on Pouring the Perfect Beer

Suntory Musashino Beer Factory Tour (near Fuchu-Honmachi Station)

This tour is a must for beer lovers. Tour guests view the factory’s inner workings and are allowed three fresh Premium Malts brews and snacks at the end of the tour. The master bartender will teach you an exquisite way to pour a beer and impress that guy or gal you’ve got your eye on!

[2] Indulge in Tea and Japanese Sweets

Komyoji Temple Kamiyacho Open Terrace (near Kamiyacho Station)

Partake of tea and Japanese sweets at no charge in this open terrace fashioned on temple grounds. Daily snacks are chosen from around ten different kinds of Japanese sweets such as warabi-mochi. This is a well-known Tokyo freebie, and precedence is given to those who make reservations in advance. The terrace was created so that people could be close to and become familiar with temples. The monks perform this service out of the goodness of their hearts, so it’s best to show gratitude for their kind gifts.

[3]  Urban Spring Water – A Relaxing Oasis Amidst the Hustle and Bustle

Masugata-no-ike Springs (near Kokubunji Station)

Did you know that spring water bubbles forth in Tokyo? City Hall will tell you not to drink the water because it is not being managed, but drawing water from the springs is a part of life for the locals who lug their plastic tanks out there on a regular basis. Visitors who drink the water do so at their own risk, but this tiny patch of countryside in the middle of the big city is a taste to try.

[4] Make Your Own Kimchee

Saikabo Kimchee Museum (near Yotsuya-Sanchome Station)

Kimchee is becoming more and more common in Japan these days, but there aren’t many people who know how to make it. The Saikabo Kimchee Museum offers visitors the chance to learn the process of making kimchee and even offers a kimchee class for a fee.


[5] Navigate the Channels of the Edo Period

Ride a traditional Japanese boat (near Toyocho Station)

Traditional “wasen” boats that have been around since the Edo Period, and guests can board and ride them up and down the Yokojikkengawa Canal that passes through Yokojikkengawa Shinsui Park. The canal is a diversion from the Onagigawa River created by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Edo Period. The operation is managed by the Wasen Tomo-no-kai. The ride is about 800 meters and lasts around 20 minutes, and passengers can even try their hand at rowing if they so please. Visitors are bound to find peace in this waterway in the middle of a concrete jungle.

[6] Drop a Line and Uncover Forgotten Feral Instincts!

Shimizu-ike Municipal Park Fishing Pond (near Gakugei Daigaku Station)

There are so few parks where you can fish in the Tokyo metropolis.  The Shimizu-ike Fishing Pond is always bustling with locals and tourists. It’s perfect for bottom-fishing during cold weather and fishing in shallower waters when it’s warm. It’s a great place to wander over to for a change of pace.

[7] An Elegant Trip Through Nature on a Monorail

Asuka Park Rail (near Oji Station)

The Asukayama Monorail runs from the entrance of Asukayama Park to the top of the eponymous hill in two minutes flat. The air-conditioned cars are able to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. Now is the time to check out the fall leaves, but the park is also a fantastic spot for cherry blossom viewing in the spring.

[8] Relax at a Mini-Onsen After Long Walk

Komorebi Foot Baths (near Higashi-Yamato Station)

Shallow hot spring water runs between the Tamagawa Josui footpath and a forest designated by the Tokyo Metropolis as a environmental protection zone. Since 2007, groundwater drawn from 250 meters beneath the surface is warmed by heat from the incineration of trash from three cities. It then flows into the Komorebi Foot Baths to create a zero-waste system. There is also a hand bath and foot reflexology course nearby.

[9] Romantic Night Views

Tokyo Metropolitan Office Observation Deck (near Shinjuku Station)

See the Tokyo Metropolis stretch out before you while standing 202 meters above the ground! On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji in the distance. You can enjoy the view from both Building 1 and Building 2. The Metropolitan government holds a raffle to choose 600 people to enjoy the views on the sunrise on New Year’s Day. Check the metropolitan government website to sign up for the raffle and for more details.


[10] Professionals Perform Live Classical Music During Fall

Morning Concerts at Tokyo Gakugei University Sogakudo (near Ueno Station)

Fall is the time for the arts, and there is no better time to enjoy live performances of classical music. Every Thursday at 11:00 a.m. at the Sogakudo on its campus, Tokyo Gakugei University puts on Morning Concerts featuring live music from the Geidai Philharmonic and one student chosen from amongst the top-scoring students at the university. We suggest seats 18 and 19, the seats reserved for VIPs such as the imperial family.

[11] Imperial Palace Tours

Free Imperial Palace Tours (near Nijubashimae Station)

These tours are for those who want to be inundated with a feeling of elegance and nobility at the very heart of Japan. Advance reservations are required. Check the Imperial Household Agency’s webpage for details. Tours begin at the Kikyomon Gate, where visitors watch a video and then make the rounds through the palace’s East Gardens, the iron bridge at the front entrance, and the Fujimi-Yagura Tower. The whole tour takes around 75 minutes and involves 2.2 kilometers of walking.

[12] Quiet Time by the Irori Fireplace in an Old House

Jidayubori Park Minkaen (near Seisei-Gakuenmae Station)

This house from the late Edo Period, which belonged to the Nagasaki family, was transplanted and restored at its current location in Jidayubori Park in Setagaya Ward. The project offers not only a look at an old house and ancient scenery but also a hands-on experience. Visitors can actually touch tools from the period, and there is nothing quite like seeing an old-fashioned irori fireplace burning in the middle of a house. This is a truly rich historical cultural experience.

*Always check the links before heading out or call ahead to make sure that there is space and that the venues are open.
[ Read in Japanese ]