The six thousand eight hundred fifty-two islands of the archipelago of Japan sits in East Asia. An extremely wealthy nation, Japan has one of the biggest economies in the world. Japan is a country filled with the old and the new. Rich in history, Japan showcases many temples, museums, gardens, haikus, geishas and kimonos. At the same time it is also a country that is proud of its high rise buildings, unique fashion, anime, high tech gadgets and fast automobiles.
Tokyo, Japan’s capital, is a fusion of the traditional and the contemporary Japan. Although Tokyo has been dubbed one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are still many ways you can enjoy the city without making a hole in your pocket.
Take a cultural trip for free by visiting the temples around the city. Most temples do not charge an admission fee. Visit the Yakusumi Shrine in Chiyoda and learn about the fight for the Emperor of Japan. There are over 2,466,000 people listed here whose lives were lost during the war. Find the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. This Buddhist temple is one of the oldest in Tokyo, and probably the most important. The trip here is worth it as there is one other shrine located across the temple, the Asakusa Shrine. The Tokyo Imperial Palace also offers free admission. With a total of 3.41 square kilometers, the palaces serves as the main residence of the emperor of Japan. The area includes the palace, administrative offices, residences of other royalty, as well as museums and gardens.
Take a bike ride for free at the Palace Cycling Course. There are five hunderd bikes loaned for free every Sunday. Most gardens are open for free as well. Then go to the Harajuku area after and check out the outrageous outfits worn by the young Japanese. Try the Yoyogi Park, the largest park in Tokyo, where the first Japanese flight took off in 1910. If want to see the beautiful cherry blossoms, go to the Ueno Park. Dating back to 1873, it has the most beautiful cherry blossom trees from March to April, and has many lotus flowers during summer. The park is truly photogenic.
Visit the Tokyo Tower – this is a nice site for pictures, although there is an entrance fee of fifteen dollars to get to the top. You can also opt to go to the Shinjuku’s Twin Towers where there is no charge to get to the top deck. Here you get a beautiful view of the city, overlooking Mt. Fuji.
Learn more about Japan’s history, arts and culture. Visit the museums – lots of them are free, too! Some interesting specialty museums that offer free admission are the Sumo Wrestling Museum and the Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum. You can also watch as Sumo match for about twenty dollars.
One of the cheapest accommodations is the ryokan, or the local Japanese bed and breakfast. Ryokan Sawanoya is one of the most popular. Sleep on a futon here for about 5,000 Yen, or about sixty dollars per person. There are also capsule hotels for only twenty five to thirty dollars, although the space is very limited. Try the Asakusa Riverside Capsule Hotel which is right in the heart of Tokyo.
Eat authentic Japanese food for less. The Tokyu Department Store has a wide selection of sushi, sashimi, etc for a cheaper price. Menya Musashi has yummy but affordable ramen. Yoshinoya sells huge rice bowls for only five dollars each.
Experience Japan’s culture and heritage without having to splurge. Pack your backpack and grab your travel buddy. This is a trip you will surely enjoy.