7 free things to do in Japan

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Photo of 7 free things to do in Japan 1/1 by U. Ray
Image: Flickr

Would you believe us if we told you that Japan is the best country for travellers on a budget? It’s true. For years now, Japan has been labelled as too expensive for tourists. It is often said that commute and accomodations in Japan are too pricey, and the fact that Airbnb is currently banned in the country doesn’t help. But you need to trust us when we tell you that your trip to Japan could turn out to be one of the thriftiest holidays of your life.

Do you know that you can get by in Japan quite smoothly even if you can spare less than $100 USD or Rs 7,320 (approx) per day, each person? There are a hundred ways to enjoy Japan on a modest budget, but in this piece we are going to talk about how you can enjoy the local attractions without burning a hole in your pocket. Do you know there are a number of things you can enjoy for free? A range of adventures which can give you the taste of the Japanese life, and you won't even have to spend a dime. Here are just a few things to do in Japan for free.

1) See the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

If you’re visiting Japan between July and August, you must make your way to Tokyo’s Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. This festival is actually a contest between rival pyrotechnic companies, and takes place towards the end of July. The next year it is scheduled to be held on July 27. The 90-minute firework display usually kicks of at 7 pm, and takes place at two separate venues near the Sumida river - the Sensoji Temple and just beside the Tokyo SkyTree in Sumida Ward. The festival has been celebrated annually for thousands of years now, and has free entry.

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Photo of Tokyo, Japan by U. Ray

2) Stroll in the Imperial Palace Garden

The Imperial Palace in Tokyo is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan (currently: His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Akihito). The castle located in Central Tokyo was built in 1457 and is surrounded by a huge park, which is just a 12 minute walk away from the Tokyo station. The public does not have access to the Palace itself, but the East garden is really where you want to be. The Palace grounds make for the most interesting places to take a stroll in Tokyo, especially if you want to soak up the history of the country. You also must visit the The Museum of the Imperial Collections which has more than 9,000 pieces of priceless Imperial art.

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Photo of Tokyo, Japan by U. Ray

3) Marvel at the Gion Matsuri Festival

One of the biggest festivals in Japan is the Gion Matsuri, which is a singularly diverse and colourful festival, which is held throughout the month of July. The main attraction of the festival is the huge parade which takes place in the city which features a range of gigantic floats, and of course, there is dancing, local stalls, and incredible street food. The central event usually takes place on the 17th of July when a parade of 32 floats are made to fly across the city.

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Photo of Kyoto, Japan by U. Ray

4) Free beer tasting

What if we tell you not only can you tour a real brewery in Tokyo for free, but also score some free beer? Intrigued? Then let us tell you all about the Suntory Brewery tour. Suntory is one of Japan’s most popular beer brands, and it offers a stellar 70-minute free tour through its functioning brewery. The main tour is only 40 minutes and the remaining 30 minutes is reserved for free beer tasting. You even get your own guide to show you how to properly pour a beer to get the right foam. You can also check out the gift shops for souvenirs. Although the tour and the handouts which are provided, are all in Japanese, you will be given English audio guides.The brewery is located in Fuchu, Tokyo, and the factory even provides a free shuttle from the Bubaigawara Station.

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Photo of Tokyo, Japan by U. Ray

5) Take the Tsukiji tuna auction tour

Have you ever visited a fish auction at a real-life wholesale fish market? We guess not. One of the best ways to get a taste of Japan's local cuisine and its daily life is by witnessing the Tsukiji Fish Market auction tour. It is a free tour, and you must arrive really early to acquire a spot. Tsukiji is the largest fish market in Japan, and the auction tour basically features huge tunas being auctioned off and then being cut into pieces on the spot. It might make for a very interesting blog post or Instagram story. There are two tours every morning, with 60 people each, and the registrations close after the limit is reached. We recommend that you be there by 5 am. The fish market is only a brief walk from the Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Oedo subway line.

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Photo of Tokyo, Japan by U. Ray

6) Take in the pleasures of Farm Tomita

Have you really made the most of Japan, if you skipped out on the Farm Tomita? The incredible lavender fields of Farm Tomita make for the most breathtaking view in all of Japan. Lavender has been cultivated in Hokkaido for more than a century now, and the best way to experience its harvest is by visiting the Farm Tomita which does not just provide acres of lavender fields, but also has a backdrop of the Tokachi Mountain. In 2008 the farm opened a brand new Lavender East farm. Entry to the field is free. You can shop, hang out at a cafe, take in the view from a deck, or even take the 15-minute bus tour through the prettiest lavender farm in the world. The best time to visit the farm is between June to September.

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Photo of Hokkaido, Japan by U. Ray

7) Visit the The Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum

If you want to soak up the culture of Japan, and want your experience to be an educational one, then you must visit the The Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum, which is situated in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. The museum is a brilliant way to explore the artistic history and the varied traditional architecture forms of the country. Entry to the museum is free, it is open 7 days a week, and it is a 15 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Ginza Line Not only will you find some incredible handcrafted goods for sale, but you will be able to take a journey into the world of authentic Japanese art and culture, as you will be able to enjoy some rare intricate handiwork, particular to the Edo period. In fact, if you visit the museum on a weekend, you will be able to watch Taito wards artisans make some gorgeous art.

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Photo of Tokyo, Japan by U. Ray
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