There are just so many things to see and do in Japan. Here are my top 15 things to do that costs very little to nothing!
1. Watch Sumo Wrestling/Train – I found it to be very interesting to watch the deeply rooted sports in the Japanese culture. Read more about how and where on this link.
2. Visit Harajuku – Harajuku is a bustling district in Shibuya which will leave you with smiles and happiness. The street is filled with Japanese dressed in the funkiest street fashion and there are loads of shops with great stuff to purchase.
Personal Experience: I went twice and would’ve went couple more times if I had the time. I was on a tight budget so I couldn’t splurge, but if I had the money, I would’ve probably spent a lot in shopping there! 😛
3. All you can eat – Food in Japan is beyond words! I found that going to an all you can eat will save your wallet. Just make sure to go with an empty stomach! There is usually a set time where the restaurant serves All You Can Eat. Always check before going.
Personal Experience: I went to an all you can eat Shabu Shabu in a restaurant called Nabezo in Shibuya, Tokyo. Highly recommended!
There are different types of JR passes. If you will stay only in Tokyo, get JR Tokyo, or you can get them by areas. It all depends on your itinerary and the price varies.
Personal Experience: I got JR Wide Pass because I planned on going to different areas in Japan.
5. Cross Shibuya Crossings – You can’t go to Japan and miss the fun of walking on the busiest crossing in the world.
Personal Experience: It was fun watching them from the 2nd floor of the station, from the street and crossing it multiple times just for heck of it! There are cafes on the high rise buildings around to watch it from above. If you don’t want to spend money, go to the 2nd floor of Shibuya station.
6. Five lakes of Mount Fuji– Rent a bike and view Mount Fuji from one of the five lakes. Also, make sure to check the weather forecast for a clear weather. The best viewing time is at noon when the clouds clear up.
Personal Experience: I viewed Mount Fuji from one of the five lakes; Kawaguchiko. It was a perfect clear day and the view was stunning!
7. Onsen – I love hot springs! Japanese love their hot springs too! It’s called an onsen. It is very relaxing. I would recommend going to Beppu for an outdoor onsen.
Personal Experience: I went to an outdoor onsen close to Kawaguchiko lake, I was the only female there so it felt like a private onsen. Remember that, not a single piece of clothing can be worn in the onsen.
8. Spend a night in a Manga Café – It’s a Japanese signature type of cafe, you should give it a try for the experience of it. If you are looking for a place to nap or sleep for a few hours, manga cafe is the perfect place to crash.
Personal Experience: I spent 2 nights in a manga cafe. My favorite one is Manboo because their price is very reasonable, fully equipped, and they don’t have additional cost to become a member.
9. Go to Yoyogi Park – Japanese love to hang out in a park. It’s a nice place to chill, have a picnic and observe the locals.
Personal Experience: A perfect place to just unwind and watch the locals under every trees, hanging out with snacks and drinks.
10. A bento for a bullet train ride – Get a bento before hopping on your bullet train and enjoy your meal in the bullet train. You will find many locals doing the same. Although they serve snacks in the bullet train, it is rather pricey. So get your snacks and bento before hopping in!
11. Visit Gion District: The chances to see a Geisha or Maiko is quite slim but maybe if you hang around long enough in Gion district, you might get a glimpse of one.
Personal Experience: Didn’t see a single Geisha or Maiko but I saw one Geisha or a pretend Geisha in one of the clubs in Kyoto 😛
12. Miyajima Island: There are so many things you could do within the island. The are trails, beaches, the famous floating Tori, many shrines, deers and if the weather is right, camp in the campsite within the island!
Personal Experience: I had forgotten to check the weather forecast and I spent a night in the campsite on a rainy and gloomy day. It’s important to check the weather forecast so you could enjoy your time there.
13. Visit Tourist Centers: Check out tourist information centers for discount vouchers.
14. Visit Rabbit Island: Imagine walking into an island and greeted by hundreds of fur balls! These bunnies are the only ones living on the island which was once a factory for poison gas in WWII!
Personal Experience: WONDERFUL! Get packets of lettuce and carrots from a Family Mart by the train station before heading to the island. It’s cheaper than getting it from the Ferry Station.
15. Souvenir: Get your souvenirs from the Airport if the souvenir you look for are from the category of magnets, local delicacies, chocolates, and keychains. I found more varieties and cheaper (Tax Free) rather than from the market. You will find all kinds of delicacies from Kyoto, Hiroshima etc.
Personal Experience: It was not easy to find affordable and cute magnets in the cities. However, I found loads of options in the airport. Also, the mochi and other treats sold in Kyoto lasts about a week or two only. So it’s best to get it just as you are leaving the country from the airport.
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