Immerse Yourself in Art and History: Unveiling Tokyo's Museum at the Imperial Palace - Treasures of the Imperial Family at Sannomaru Shozokan

Tokyo: 35 Free Things to Do

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Visiting Tokyo can be expensive, but the metropolis also offers many activities and places you can enjoy for free! This article introduces 35 things you can enjoy in Tokyo without spending any money, from traditional festivals to fireworks and scenic city views.

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Visiting Tokyo can be a very expensive experience, but you might be surprised to hear that the metropolis also offers a variety things you can enjoy for free! Let us introduce you to 35 of these activities and spots.

35 Free Things to Do in Tokyo

1. The Imperial Palace East Garden

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by Pixta

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by Pixta
Most of the area within the Tokyo Imperial Palace is not available to the public, you can visit the East Garden. It is open to the public year-round and the entrance is free.

This beautiful garden is full of historical artifacts and it will take you on a little time travel. Depending on the time of the year, the gates close at 16:00 or 17:00.

It's recommended you arrive at the garden before noon so that you have enough time to enjoy the whole area.

2. Harajuku Galaxy: teamLab Installations and Photo Areas

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by PR Times

A teamLab experience, for free?! Yes, that's right! Harajuku Galaxy is a chic building filled with entertainment and beauty, boasting a stylish interior. Positioned on the third floor, teamLabs Mysterious Forest takes center stage with its stunning digital art mural.

Visitors can observe shy animals emerging and walking through a deep purple and blue forest. And for those fortunate enough to own Galaxy phones, the artwork becomes interactive. By capturing photos of the animals, they can witness these creatures disappear from the mural and materialize on their phones, augmenting their devices with a digital encyclopedia.

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by PR Times

Harajuku Galaxy is teeming with art spots. Among them is the Galaxy Purple Floor: Collaboration photo, an awe-inspiring photo spot with a playful purple interior, located on the sixth floor. Additionally, on the fourth floor's Social Galaxy, an infinite room filled with mirrors and digital screens creates an artistic galaxy, showcasing photos from your Instagram account.

With seven floors to explore, Harajuku Galaxy offers a creative atmosphere where visitors can craft postcards on the basement floor and design phone accessories on the first floor, ultimately progressing through the building to discover these enchanting photo areas, all completely free.

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3. Espace Louis Vuitton

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by PR Times
Operated by Louis Vuitton, Espace is an international exhibition space featuring rooms in captivating cities worldwide, including Munchen, Venice, Beijing, Seoul, Osaka, and Tokyo.

This minimalistic yet exquisite exhibition hall is specifically designed to showcase and celebrate contemporary artwork. Previous exhibitions in Tokyo have featured renowned artists such as Kerith Wynne Evans, Rashid Johnson's Plateaus, and many others who have graciously shared their remarkable works with us, all free of charge!

To find out which exhibition is currently available during your desired visit, please refer to the official website: https://www.espacelouisvuittontokyo.com/

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4. Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by Pixta
Designed by the renowned architect Kengo Kuma, the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center is a magnificent structure with an exterior crafted from timber and glass!

Serving as a valuable source of information for those exploring Asakusa, this building also offers a breathtaking, panoramic view of the area, including the iconic Sensoji Temple and its renowned 250-meter shopping street, Nakamise!

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by Pixta
Within this facility, visitors can enjoy a bird's-eye view of famous landmarks like Tokyo Skytree during both daytime and nighttime.

Additionally, guests have the opportunity to learn about various cultural events, such as kimono workshops and cooking classes, and can unwind in a cozy café and exhibition space. The center is also family-friendly, providing amenities like baby changing areas and children's books.

Other conveniences include a foreign currency exchange counter, free Wi-Fi, and access to computers. Moreover, on weekends, participants can join a complimentary English tour of Asakusa, organized by the center.

5. Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

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Sensoji Temple is a timeless Buddhist temple with a remarkable history of over 1,300 years. Leading up to the temple is Nakamise-dori, Japan's oldest shopping street. Even if you don't make any purchases, you can delight in the sight of numerous traditional snacks and unique gifts that are scarcely found elsewhere.

In Asakusa, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a rich historical experience at every turn, completely free of charge.


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6. Asakusa Yokocho: Neon Lights and Photo Spots

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Asakusa Yokocho is a bustling facility brimming with delectable food, restaurants, and vibrant neon lights! Situated on the fourth floor of the Tokyo Rakutenchi Asakusa Building, Asakusa Yokocho is a lively destination that offers colorful traditional performances and music, as well as a plethora of playful and stunning photo spots.

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

This area is perfect for those seeking to create unforgettable memories and capture professional-quality photos. Guests can strike a pose in front of various photo spots, including neon traditional Japanese artwork, a glass wind chime tunnel, a windmill wall, and more.

Moreover, inside the facility, there are seven delightful shops and a kimono rental store, all harmoniously coming together to create a mini festival among the clouds. Visitors can freely explore the area, snap photos, and catch a glimpse of Tokyo Skytree. Stay updated with upcoming performances by visiting the official website at https://asakusayokocho.com/

7. Asakusa Ekimise Rooftop: Hare Terrace

Asakusa Ekimise is a department store with a rich history located in Asakusa. Visitors might know it for having the Asakusa Station of Tobu Railway on its second floor.

Few people know, however, that the rooftop of Ekimise has been opened to the public. Hare Terrace offers stunning views of the Tokyo Skytree and Sumida River.

Those who visit can enjoy fashion shopping, browsing for books and new electronics, and a delicious meal. Afterward a day of exploring why not enjoy a sandwich on the terrace gazing out to some of Tokyo's most famous landmarks?

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8. Window Shopping and Free Galleries in Ginza

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Ginza is primarily renowned for its upscale shopping street, which draws inspiration from London's Oxford Street. Window shopping is a popular and enjoyable activity in this area.

However, it is lesser known that Ginza also boasts a range of free galleries that are worth visiting. For instance, Gallery Shukado showcases exquisite traditional Japanese art, while Shibata Etsuko Gallery exhibits captivating botanical art. These are just two examples of the stunning works of art you can explore in Ginza.

9. Meiji Shrine and Harajuku

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Just a short walk away from Harajuku Station you can find the famous Meiji Shrine. Located inside Yoyogi Park, it is a place of tranquillity in the heart of the city.

On the other side of the station is the Harajuku shopping area - a haven for creative people and places and one of the most individual places in Tokyo. Strolling along the alleys with small shops and enjoying all the odd little bits and bobs you can only find in Harajuku will inspire and entertain. Window shopping is free and there is no better place to do it.

If you do want to spend a little money you will find many one-of-a-kind treats like Cotton Candy Ice Cream or the famous Japanese crepes of Harajuku.

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10. Take a Walk on the Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba

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Odaiba is a highly sought-after amusement area, distinguished by its iconic Rainbow Bridge that shines brilliantly at night. Illuminated by an array of lights, the bridge provides a captivating display while also granting a view of restaurant ships floating on the water, adorned in various colors.

It is in the nighttime that the bridge truly lives up to its name as the "rainbow bridge." It radiantly glows in vibrant hues, resembling the colors of a rainbow. Taking a leisurely stroll along the bridge during the evening offers a stunning and cost-free experience.

11. Gundam Statue in Odaiba

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by Pixta
The Unicorn Gundam Statue is an imposing presence towering over the city, located just outside the stunning shopping center, DiverCity Tokyo Plaza. Captivating visitors day and night, the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam attracts Gundam enthusiasts from around the globe.

Every evening, remarkable performances take place every 30 minutes from 17:00 to 21:30. Accompanied by emotion-stirring, epic music, fans can witness a variety of animations from the Gundam series projected onto Odaiba's DiverCity Tokyo Plaza as the statue illuminates with dazzling lights!

After enjoying this extraordinary spectacle, why not venture inside the center to savor a delicious meal, indulge in shopping to your heart's content, or partake in exhilarating amusements?

To learn about the scheduled shows for each day, please visit the official website: https://www.unicorn-gundam-statue.jp/en/795/

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12. Illuminations: Marunochi and Tokyo Skytree

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by Pixta
Tokyo dazzles with its breathtaking illuminations, particularly during the winter season! Renowned for its famous Christmas illuminations like Roppongi Hills Christmas, visitors can also enjoy sparkling lights throughout the year in Tokyo, such as the Marunouchi Illumination and Tokyo Skytree.

With daily changes, Tokyo Skytree adorns the cityscape with vibrant colors, each carrying a unique significance. Visible from Asakusa, the tower showcases illuminations like "Iki," a brilliant blue light symbolizing the spirit, and Sumida River illuminations and "Nobori," also known as "tachibana color," a warm sunset orange associated with good luck!

To explore more illuminations, their meanings, and schedules, please refer to the official website at https://www.tokyo-skytree.jp/en/enjoy/lighting/.

13. Enjoy Public Art around Tokyo

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Tokyo is full of amazing public art. Many train stations and public places showcase wall art or sculptures. The big spider sculpture "Maman" in Roppongi Hills and the Great Ghibli Clock outside the Nihon TV building are just two of the most famous ones.

While Roppongi is well-known for its displays of public art, you'll be able to enjoy inspiring free art all around the city.

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14. Carrot Tower Observatory

Free Japan - Enjoy Tokyo Without Spending Any Money!

The Carrot Tower is a commercial building located in Setagaya ward. The 26th floor of the building is home to a free observatory.

From this observatory, you can enjoy views of the city. On a clear day, you can see Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, as well as Mount Fuji!

15. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has two towers and there are observatories in both of them. These observatories can be visited free of charge. They offer a great all-round view over the city.

Moreover, they are open until after 21:00, which makes them a popular destination to enjoy the city view at night. This is one place in Tokyo that you shouldn't miss out on!

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16. Suntory Musashino Free Brewery Tour

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Suntory, one of Japan's beloved beer brands, offers complimentary brewery tours that include beer tasting. Each tour spans 70 minutes in total, with a 40-minute excursion through the factory followed by 30 minutes dedicated to beer sampling.

Language will not be a barrier to enjoying the tour, as the staff will provide English audio guides for non-Japanese speakers.

17. Free Boat Tours in the Koto Ward

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Koto ward in Tokyo provides complimentary boat tours along the Yokojikkengawa Canal. You can embark on a 10-minute tour aboard a traditional Japanese wooden boat (wasen).

To participate in these tours, simply visit the Koto ward office and register your name on the guestlist for the free boat ride. This experience is offered free of charge as part of Koto ward's commitment to preserving the culture of wasen rides.

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18. JAL Factory Tour Sky Museum

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by PR Times

Recognized as one of Trip Advisor's Top 20 Best Free Attractions in Japan, the JAL Factory Tour Sky Museum in Tokyo is an excellent choice for families and enthusiasts of aircraft and machinery. Visitors can delve into the museum's exhibits for approximately one hour, exploring topics such as flight regulations, JAL's history, and more.

Following the museum visit, guests are guided through the hangar, where they can gain further insights into these remarkable aircraft and observe them up close, all at no cost. Please note that scheduling a tour time in advance is necessary, and to make a reservation, kindly refer to their official website: https://www.jal.com/ja/kengaku/en/info/

19. The Suginami Animation Museum

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The Animation Museum, located in Tokyo's Suginami ward, offers a comprehensive exploration of the world of animated movies. This museum showcases everything from classic drawing boards to the latest animation techniques, providing a complete overview of the medium.

Visitors even have the opportunity to create, dub, and direct their own animated movie, immersing themselves in the creative process.

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20. The Advertisement Museum in Shiodome

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When visiting Japan, one cannot help but notice that advertisements differ greatly from those in other countries. They are vibrant, cheerful, and exude a sense of liveliness. The Advertisement Museum is a dedicated facility that showcases various types of advertisements.

This museum not only displays contemporary loud and colorful advertisements but also exhibits advertisement memorabilia dating back to the Edo era. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of advertisements throughout history, catering to a wide range of interests.

21. Mayo Terrace

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo from PR Times

Kewpie Mayo, Japan's renowned and beloved mayonnaise brand, has recently opened its own dedicated facility! As the first company to introduce mayonnaise to Japan, Kewpie boasts an impressive 1925 years of experience. The brand's irresistible flavor has captured the hearts of many residents in Japan.

This facility offers an engaging and brightly designed space that showcases the history of Kewpie in a delightful manner. One of the main highlights is the Mayo Terrace, an impressive wooden sculpture that is 500,000 times larger than a Kewpie mayonnaise bottle.

Adjacent to the striking dome, there is a vibrant salad hall adorned with cozy vegetable-shaped sofas, providing a relaxing environment. After enjoying the ambiance, visitors can proceed to a factory walk and savor delicious food prepared using the fabulous Kewpie mayonnaise at the Kewpie kitchen.

The facility also includes a gallery that playfully exhibits the history of Kewpie products, adding further charm to the area. To book a tour, please visit the official website: https://www.kewpie.co.jp/entertainment/mayoterrace/ (Japanese)

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22. The Origami Gallery in Ochanomizu

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Origami is a craft with a long tradition in Japan and the the Origami Gallery in Ochanomizu is a facility created with the purpose of spreading origami as a traditional art.

Here you can admire beautiful origami crafts, as well as participate in origami workshops. You'll be impressed by the depths of this art!

23. The Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Museum

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The The Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Museum is located in Asakusa. This facility is dedicated to spreading knowledge about the traditional arts and crafts of the Edo period (1603 - 1868).

You will be able to find furniture, small models of Edo buildings as well as craft utensils from that era in the museum. Admission is free, but do check their little gift shop if you'd like to buy a souvenir.

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24. Matsuri - Japanese Festivals

Tokyo's Top 30 Things You Can Do For Free!

Matsuri, or festivals, hold a rich tradition in Japan and are held predominantly during the summer and autumn seasons. However, one can come across these lively celebrations at various times throughout the year. Almost every shrine has its own unique festival, with festivities ranging from small-scale to grand spectacles.

Participating in these festivals is typically free of charge, and if you have spare change, it can be used to indulge in delightful festival treats.

25. Hanabi - Japanese Fireworks

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Fireworks displays can be witnessed worldwide, but there is something uniquely captivating about the beauty of hanabi in Japan. The months of July and August are renowned as hanabi season, presenting a wide array of fireworks shows.

Nevertheless, one can also come across firework festivals during other times of the year. The Hanabiryujon in Chofu, held during autumn, serves as just one example.

Given the immense popularity of fireworks in Japan, these events attract large crowds. It is recommended to arrive early in order to secure a favorable viewing spot.

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26. Yebisu Beer Museum

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Yebisu, initially introduced in Japan as a German beer, has evolved into a Japanese premium beer brand with a rich history of over 100 years. Renowned for its enduring popularity, Yebisu continues to captivate beer enthusiasts. The museum showcases a wealth of items and educational displays, offering a journey into the craftsmanship behind this flavorful beer in its gallery halls.

For a more immersive experience, visitors have the option to join a paid tour for a fee of 500 yen. Led by professionals, this tour provides the opportunity to savor two varieties of Yebisu beer while gaining insights into its brewing process.

27. Yokocho Alleys

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by Pixta

Strolling through Japan's hidden and atmospheric alleys, brimming with delectable food and inviting bars, offers an authentic glimpse into modern-day Japan. These Yokocho alleyways are bustling with people and a diverse range of cuisines, making them popular destinations for unwinding after a long day and capturing the essence of daily life in Japan.

Lit by the warm glow of red lanterns and vibrant signs, the narrow pathways of Yokocho beckon passersby. These alleyways truly come alive at night, with their captivating lights and vibrant atmosphere. Noteworthy spots to explore include Golden Gai in Shinjuku, Harmonica Alley in Kichijoji, Omoide Yokocho in Shinjuku, and Hoppy Dori in Asakusa.

28. Experience All Things Manga and New Technology in Akihabara

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Akihabara, renowned for its manga, anime, and otaku culture, is not only a hub for pop culture enthusiasts but also a prime destination for high-quality electronics and cutting-edge technology.

In fact, this vibrant district offers inventions and experiences that are unique to Akihabara and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Akihabara boasts an almost equal number of electronic stores as manga-related establishments. Many of these electronics are available for free demonstrations, allowing visitors to try them out firsthand. If you have a passion for technology, Akihabara is a haven where you can immerse yourself for hours without feeling obligated to make a purchase.

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29. Experience Ameyoko, a Former Black Market in Ueno

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Ameyoko, also referred to as Ameya Yokocho, is primarily recognized as a bustling market street that offers a diverse range of food and miscellaneous items. However, this vibrant shopping street has a intriguing history. The full name "Ameya" translates to "candy shop" and "yokocho" denotes "back alley."

In the aftermath of World War II, candy was considered a luxury and scarce commodity. Ameyoko served as a black market where these coveted goods were illegally traded. Understanding this historical context brings clarity to the maze-like layout of the alleys in the area. It's a fascinating glimpse into the post-war era.

30. Toyosu Fish Market

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The Toyosu Fish Market is the largest fish market in Japan. Their popular free tuna auction tours allow visitors to witness the auctioning and immediate preparation of these sizable fish.

Please note that the tour is restricted to 120 individuals each morning, with two groups consisting of 60 individuals each. Once this capacity is reached, registration is closed. To avoid disappointment, it is highly recommended to arrive as early as possible.

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31. The National Astronomical Observatory Of Japan

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The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan Mitaka Campus is all about space. In addition to planetarium programs, they also hold star gazing events, which can be attended for free.

Many facilities on the campus are open to the public and require no admission fee. You just need to write down your name at the entrance.

32. The Scholarly Museum Intermediatheque

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The Intermediatheque is a free science and culture museum close to Tokyo Station. It specializes in giving old items a new purpose, a concept called ReDESIGN+.

Some of the most impressive items on display here are the animal skeletons and other items formerly used by the University of Tokyo. It's a quite thrilling exhibition that won't disappoint!

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33. Public Parks

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Public parks possess a captivating beauty all their own. In spring, these parks become enveloped in a soft, pink, and white cherry blossom haze. Autumn adorns the surroundings with a stunning palette of deep reds, vibrant emeralds, and dazzling golds. Stepping into these parks feels like entering a living painting.

During weekends, public parks serve as social hubs where people gather to share drinks, savor meals, and engage in games. They provide ample opportunities to appreciate nature and forge new connections.

We particularly recommend exploring the wonders of Yoyogi Park, Ueno Park, and Inokashira Park.

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34. Gotokuji Temple: See the Beckoning Cats

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by Pixta
Gotokuji Temple, located in Setagaya, is a charming and delightful temple teeming with hundreds of beckoning white cats. Its proximity to Miyanosaka Station, a stop on the Setagaya Line, adds to its allure as the station itself features train cars adorned with adorable cat-themed designs.

Originally rebuilt with the assistance of Ii Naotaka, a notable warlord during the Edo era, Gotokuji Temple has a fascinating history. As the story goes, while returning from falconry, Naotaka encountered an enchanting cat waiting at the temple's entrance. Entranced by its presence, he decided to greet the cat, which happened to coincide with the onset of a sudden thunderstorm. Seeking shelter, he stayed at the temple and later collaborated with the temple staff to rebuild it into the magnificent structure it is today.

Throughout the year, the temple and its grounds showcase stunning natural beauty. From the delicate cherry blossoms in spring to the vibrant irises in summer and the breathtaking autumn foliage, the wooden grounds come alive with bursts of vibrant orange.

35. Hiking the Mountains Around Tokyo

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Photo by Pixta
When considering hiking in Japan, many people immediately think of the iconic Mount Fuji. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that there are other mountains just an hour or two away from the center of Tokyo that offer equally delightful experiences.

Mount Takao is a shining example, renowned for its captivating autumn foliage and the presence of tengu statues. On clear days, hikers may also catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji on the horizon, while lucky visitors in October can witness the natural phenomenon known as Diamond Fuji, where the sunrise or sunset aligns perfectly with the majestic mountain.

25 Things To Do In Tokyo For Free

Another notable mountain for hiking near Tokyo is Mount Mitake, especially during the summer season when it transforms into a refreshing retreat from the heat. Cool temperatures create a pleasant atmosphere and offer a rare opportunity to admire the beautiful rengeshoma flowers blooming along the enchanting woodland trails, almost resembling a path created by ethereal fairies.

These mountains near Tokyo provide a delightful escape and an opportunity to connect with nature just a short distance from the bustling city center.

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Bonus! Free Zoos, Museums, and Parks on October 1 (Tokyo Citizens' Day)

Free Japan - Enjoy Tokyo Without Spending Any Money!

In addition to the places and facilities mentioned above, there are public holidays in Japan when you can visit zoos, museums, and parks for free!

One of these public holidays is October 1, Tokyo Citizens' Day! Please be aware that sightseeing spots tend to get very crowded on public holidays.

Enjoy Your Free Tokyo!

Tokyo is notorious for being an expensive city. However, there are many fun things to do and explore without spending any money.

We hope that this list of free activities made you curious and that you'll even try some of them!

Main image by Pixta

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This is the official account of MATCHA's English editorial team. We are bringing you the latest travel information on Japan.

Our beautiful cover photo features the fall foliage at Lake Kinrin in Yufuin (photo by Pixta). We hope you'll have a wonderful time exploring Japan.

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