How to do Tokyo on a budget during your gap year

Too many people wanting to undergo a gap year, Tokyo may not seem to be a city that can be done inexpensively. But it is surprising how many things can be done for free or next to nothing. As long as you seek out some cheap hostels, don’t eat out constantly and keep an eye out for a good bargain, one can experience the Japanese metropolis fully without it bankrupting you.

Here is a selection of things you can do at a low-cost.

Take it all in from Tokyo City Hall

The 48-story high Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku may be a place where official state business is conducted, but it also hosts a pair of panoramic observation decks. From a height of over 202m high, the decks are a superb spot to view the sprawling skyline, and all for free.

Visit the Statue of Liberty

There are many whacky things to see in Tokyo, and this is one of the most unusual. Initially, a short-term thing, this mini-statue (or should that be statuette?) was first put up to celebrate the “French Year of Japan” between 1998 – 1999 but became a permanent fixture of the artificial island of Odaiba. All it will cost you is the money it costs to get on the Shuto Expressway.

Sunday bike ride at the Imperial Palace Course

In the land of the rising sun, it is possible to borrow a bicycle free of charge and take part in a ride on 3.3km route. There are, of course, limitations (a cap of only 500 units on offer), but as long as you get there early, there’s no reason why you can’t have a splendid Sunday outing.


Meiji Shrine

Surrounded a 700,000 M2 forest within centre Tokyo resides the Meiji Shrine—a temple built to remember Emperor Meiji who played a key role in modernising Japan. It has an inner and outer garden, with cypress wood gates and is a beautiful place to spend a slow day. But remember to reverently bow upon arrival and departure from the Torii archway.


Get social in Shibuya

Packed in this lively ward is a whole host of bars, clubs and restaurants. Naturally, many of these establishments will be expensive, but if you look for the right places you can have a great night out on little cash. Oath and Ruby Room, for instance, are venues that have DJs to get you moving and shaking. Drinks are generally 500 or so yen, and entry is free on weekends, which is great if you’re both thrifty and a partier.


A saunter down Rainbow Bridge

Most people aren’t exactly thrilled they are invited to walk down a suspension bridge, but this isn’t just any bridge. Constructed between 1987-1993, the 798-metre Rainbow bridge is a feat of stunning engineering. With a spacious walkway designed for marauders, the bridge is punctuated by two towers that in the nighttime are lit up by solar panel lights. As well as being a striking feature of the city’s outline, the view from the bridge is exquisite. 

Those wishing to make the trip can hop on between Shibaura Wharf and the Odaiba waterfront—perfect for those who wish to treat themselves to seeing the Japanese Statue of Liberty after their walk. 


Do you have any tips for people travelling to Tokyo on a budget? Let us know in the comments below.

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