Fun, Cheap, and Free Family Travel Activities in Tokyo

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For a city with an expensive reputation, a day’s outing with kids does not have to be spendy!

A family vacation to Tokyo is probably going to involve some big-ticket attractions like the Skytree (tickets $9 - $20), Tokyo Tower ($3.50-$9.00), the Epson Aqua Park Shinagawa ($22), or Tokyo DisneySea ($48-$74) – but there are days and days’ worth of outings that cost little to nothing at all, once you’ve covered transportation to get there.

With the Suica stored-value card and Tokyo’s comprehensive rail network, virtually the entire city is accessible within an hour of almost any hotel. The convenience of being able to do out-and-back trips from a home base makes it easy to explore a different neighborhood each day of your trip, or even break up your day into morning/lunch – afternoon nap & recharge – evening/dinner (good not only for dealing with jetlag but also heat & humidity if you’re in the city during the warm months).

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This link-list of free or low-cost attractions is organized around major stations on the Metro or the Yamanote city loop line, within reasonable walking distances:

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Shibuya

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Harajuku/Omotesando

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Image by B Lucava via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Image by B Lucava via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Shinjuku

Image by Justin C. via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Image by Justin C. via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Image by Luca Mascaro via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Image by Luca Mascaro via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Ikebukuro

  • The Namjatown indoor amusement park inside the Sunshine City shopping center has inexpensive tickets (¥500 adult, ¥300 child) with much to see and kids’ games to play, but at heart it’s a shopping arcade and food court.
  • The headquarters store for manga / anime chain Animate
  • Tobu, the city’s single largest department store, with a giant food hall
Image by Kakidai via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0 license

Image by Kakidai via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0 license

Image by Vasyl Gladysh via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0 license

Image by Vasyl Gladysh via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0 license

Ueno/Asakusa

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Image by rdnk via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Image by rdnk via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Akihabara

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Image by Perry Li via Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0 license

Image by Perry Li via Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0 license

Downtown/Tokyo Station

Image by Reggaeman via Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0 license

Image by Reggaeman via Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0 license

Shinagawa

  • The Shinagawa Shrine is one of the larger green spaces in the central city and holds a large festival in September.
  • The Sengaku-ji Temple is one of the main Zen Buddhist temples and is a famous graveyard.
Image by Marc Dalmulder via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Image by Marc Dalmulder via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Image by Dennis Amith via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Image by Dennis Amith via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Meguro/Ebisu

  • The Institute for Nature Study is a large, wild area (¥310 admission for adults; kids are free) that has been allowed to regenerate naturally since World War II. Because of this, it is also a significant archaeological research site.
  • Yebisu Garden Place is a large shopping and dining complex.
  • The Otori Shrine is just a few blocks from the Meguro station and holds big festivals in September, November, and at New Year’s.
Image by 江戸村のとくぞう via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0 license

Image by 江戸村のとくぞう via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0 license

Ginza / Shimbashi

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Image by Nigel Goodman via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Image by Nigel Goodman via Flickr, CC 2.0 license

Akasaka

Image by Wing1990hk via Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0 license

Image by Wing1990hk via Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0 license

Image by 掬茶 via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0 license

Image by 掬茶 via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0 license

Roppongi

Image by fox kiyo via Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0 license

Image by fox kiyo via Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0 license

Image by Mark J. Nelson via Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0 license

Image by Mark J. Nelson via Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0 license

Odaiba

(take the Yurikamome Light Rail from the Shimbashi or Shiodome stations)

Please comment with your additions and suggestions below, or tweet us at @weninchina!

See also…

https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/kids/tokyo-with-children

https://globetotting.com/japan-kids-tokyo-guide/

http://packmeto.com/7-free-things-to-do-in-tokyo/

And check these weninchina articles:

Impressions of… Tokyo – Harajuku

Impressions of… Tokyo – Meiji Jingu

Airport Guide – Tokyo Narita

3 Easy Ways to Save Money on Family Meals in Asia