When in Japan: Travel Cheap for 4 Days in Tokyo

Tokyo is definitely one of the most expensive cities, not only in Japan, but all over the world. Nevertheless, budget travel is very possible. A good way to travel cheap in Tokyo is by visiting places per area with the use of subways and metros, which is perhaps the cheapest mode of transportation there. The numerous lines and stations may get overwhelming at first, but they're highly reliable as Japan's extensive railway system can get you to almost every place even when in a big city like Tokyo.
Here's a sample itinerary of a 4-day Tokyo tour. The places are grouped by area and accessible by subway or metro.
Tip: A smart move is to buy any top-up card / electronic money used in Japan, such as Suica card. Aside from being hassle-free, the amount per ride using a card is cheaper than cash. It also gives discounts especially when transferring from one line to another. It only costs ¥220 (less than USD 1!) and only requires an initial deposit of ¥500 (refundable if card is returned).

Day 1: West Tokyo
Part 1
Places: Meiji Shrine - Yoyogi Park - Takeshita Street
Suggested time to visit: morning / daytime

1. Harajuku station
The first part of this tour in West Tokyo covers the Harajuku area. Begin by alighting at Harajuku station served by the JR Yamanote line. From the station, it only takes 5-10 minutes on foot to reach the first stop, the Meiji Shrine.

2. Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine is a landmark known for its religious and cultural significance to the Japanese. A few of the notable areas in this shrine include the Torii Gate, Barrels of Sake, and the shrine itself that's also locally called as Meiji Jingu.

Also read: When in Japan: Meiji Shrine

3. Yoyogi Park
Return to the Torii Gate entrance then head east to stroll around Tokyo's big park, the Yoyogi Park. It's well-known for the vibrant Sakura trees (cherry blossom), an attraction during spring time that runs from late March to May.

4. Takeshita Street
Next, detour to the Harajuku station and head north to Takeshita Street, a lively and youthful street in Tokyo. On weekends, teenagers usually go here to do Cosplay, the Japanese subculture of wearing anime costumes. Also, this street is known for the delicious Harajuku crepes, which are available in the dessert shops throughout the stretch.

Watch: Viajera Vlog: Harajuku

Part 2:
Places: Hachiko statue - Shibuya intersection - Izakaya
Suggested time to visit: afternoon to evening

1. Shinjuku station
This route in west Tokyo covers the Shibuya area. Begin at Shinjuku station, a big and busy station connecting the 12 different lines.

2. Hachiko Statue
To easily get to the Hachiko statue, make sure to take the JR Hachiko exit. This landmark is a tribute to Hachiko, an Akita breed of dog who touched the hearts of many after it repeatedly went back at the Shibuya station and waited for his master's return who, unfortunately, passed away.

Also read: When in Japan: Shibuya

3. Shibuya intersection
A trip to Tokyo won't be complete without crossing the most famous intersection in the world. Crossing the Shibuya intersection has become a trend among travelers who mostly get overwhelmed by the huge number of people crossing all directions at the same time. The intersection is also surrounded by sky scrappers with colorful LED lights that are best to catch at night.

4. Izakaya
One of the local scenes a traveler can experience in Tokyo is by entering one of the izakayas, Tokyo's version of a pub. An izakaya is described as a small, exclusive, and cozy pub. In Shibuya, a stretch of izakayas can be found where most locals spend time drinking and unwinding with friends after the long day at work.

Day 2: Central Tokyo
Part 1:
Places: Tsukiji market - Imperial Palace
Suggested time to visit: morning / daytime
1. Tsukiji station
This Central Tokyo tour starts by alighting at Tsukiji station (H10) served by the Hibiya line.

2. Tsukiji Market
A lot of travelers find Tsujiki Market amusing as it's the biggest wholesale wet market in Tokyo. It's best to come early to catch the locals bargaining seafood, from tunas to salmons, which are important ingredients in Japanese cuisine. Either you're there to buy or simply curious to observe, the experience is one of a kind. Also, several seafood restaurants are in the area but the prices tend to be more expensive than in other areas in Tokyo.

3. Ginza station
Go back and ride at the Tsukiji station of the Hibiya line to alight at Ginza station (H8).

4. Tokyo station
From Ginza station (H8) of the Hibiya line, transfer to the Maronouchi line (M16) to reach the Tokyo station (M18).

5. Imperial Palace
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the official residence of the emperor of Japan and his family. The palace may be closed to public but it's a complex with local-feel attractions including the Nijubashi Bridge, Edo Castle Ruins, and Imperial Palace East Gardens.

Also read: When in Japan: Tokyo Imperial Palace

Part 2:
Places: Sensoji Temple - Tokyo Sky Tree
Suggested time to visit: afternoon / nighttime

1. Tokyo station
Take the reverse route. From Tokyo station (M18), alight again at Ginza station (M16).

2. Asakusa station
Next, transfer to the Ginza line (G09) to reach Asakusa station (G19).

3. Sensoji Temple
The red-colored Sensoji Temple is Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple. Right across it is the Asakusa Shrine, which is a Shinto shrine. Aside from being a religious ground, the surrounding outdoor markets are also considered an attraction.

4. Tokyo Skytree station
Head back to Asakusa station and take the Tobu Skytree (TS) line this time. Alight in the next station, which is the Tokyo Skytree station.

5. Tokyo Skytree
If you're an anime fan, perhaps you've seen this tower already in its cartooned version. Once the tallest structure in the world in 2010, the Tokyo Skytree is primarily a TV and radio broadcast station. There's an observation deck at the top with a beautiful 360-degree view of Tokyo. The tower is lit with multicolored lights, thus considered an attraction at nighttime too.

Day 3: South Tokyo
Places: Diver City Tokyo Plaza - Aqua City Odaiba - Rainbow Bridge - Odaiba Statue of Liberty
Suggested time to visit: full day
1. Shimbashi station
This tour covers Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo. Begin by taking the metro at the Shimbashi station of the Yurikamome line. The ride is an experience with a nice aerial view of Tokyo since the rail is elevated instead of underground.

2. Daiba station
After passing through the Rainbow Bridge, alight at the Daiba station.

3. Diver City Tokyo Plaza
This shopping mall is known for the life-sized outdoor Gundam robot. It partially moves and has a 2-minute show every 30 minutes.

4. Aqua City Odaiba
Right across Diver City is another shopping mall, the Aqua City Odaiba. Aside from indoor entertainment, food, and shopping, it offers a beautiful waterfont, with nearby attractions like the 5. Rainbow Bridge and the 6. Odaiba Statue of Liberty

Also read: When in Japan: Odaiba


Day 4: East Tokyo
Part 1:
Places: Ameyoko Street - Ueno Park - Kaneiji Temple
Suggest time to visit: morning / daytime
1. Ueno station
Begin the East Tokyo tour by alighting at the Ueno station of either the JR Yamanote line, Hibiya line (H17), or Ginza line (G16). The first stop, Ameyoko Street, is right beside it.

2. Ameyoko Street
Outdoor markets are common in Tokyo, which are usually found near subway stations. They're highly patronized, not only for accessibility, but also for the variety of cheap products. For one, Ameyoko Street consists of food stalls and shops good for souvenirs. The fruit on stick is a must-try at Ameyoko Street.

Also read: When in Japan: Street Buying in Tokyo

3. Ueno Park
Similar to Yoyogi Park, Ueno Park is a public park that's well-visited during the cherry blossom season. People usually do hanami here, a Japanese practice of flower appreciation. The park is also surrounded by museums such as the Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Western Art, National Museum of Nature & Science, etc.

4. Kaneiji Temple
From Ueno Park, take a short walk to Kaneiji, a Buddhist temple owned by the Tokugawa clan during the Edo period. As said, it served as prayer hall against the demons of the Edo Castle back then. The compound looks very local and peaceful. Next to it is a 5-storey pagoda and the Toshogu Shrine.

Part 2:
Places: Akihabara arcades - Don Quijote - Maid cafes
Suggested time to visit: afternoon

1. Akihabara station
Taking the JR Yamanote line, alight at Akihabara station to reach Akihabara, Tokyo's electric town. It got the name after Akihabara became a hub or center for buying electrical items even up to the smallest parts.

2. Akihabara arcades
Japan is the leading nation in gaming and computers so checking out the Japanese arcade is a must-do. Arcades are all over Tokyo but if you want to see more, Akibahara is the perfect place for it. An arcade game usually starts at ¥1.

3. Don Quijote
Aside from 100-yen shops in Tokyo, there's a one-stop shop called Don Quijote with a 6-storey building in Akihabara that's good for buying souvenirs. It's tax free so travelers may simply present a copy of their passport for tax refund.

4. Maid cafes
While walking around Akihabara, there's a chance to see women in exaggerated maid costumes who give out flyers. They're usually cosplayers who work as waitresses at the maid cafe. They also perform on a small stage that involves singing and dancing as a group. The @ Home Cafe is the most popular among the cafes there in Akihabara.



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