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).
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:
- The iconic Shibuya Scramble street crossing
- Statue and artwork for the loyal dog, Hachiko
- The clothing company Diesel has an art gallery just north of the crossroads
- Also nearby is the modern Nanzuka art gallery
- The D47 Museum in the Shibuya Hikarie building has themed exhibits using crafts and products from Japan’s 47 prefectures
- There’s a giant Tower Records off the Scramble, which has live music and concerts almost every day
- The Seibu department store has a huge food hall
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Observation Deck)
- Shinjuku Gyoen (¥210 admission)
- Tokyu Hands flagship store
- The Isetan department store flagship (including its food hall)
- Toto Toilet Collaboration Showroom for something really unusual :)
- Tokyo Fire Museum (use the Yotsuya-Sanchome Metro station)
- Tokyo Toy Museum (also via the Yotsuya-Sanchome station) - ¥500 admission for kids and ¥700 for adults, but they have ¥1000 passes for one child + one adult
- 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
- The Tokyo Anime Center, which houses seasonal exhibitions as well as a well-curated shop
- Anime specialist shops such as Mandarake (probably save these for teenagers though)
- LAOX and Yodobashi Camera for cutting-edge electronics
- 3331 Arts Chiyoda
- The Edo-Tokyo Museum (just across the Sumida river at the Ryogoku station)
- 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.
(take the Yurikamome Light Rail from the Shimbashi or Shiodome stations)
- The Toyota Mega Web Showroom
- Panasonic Center Tokyo (free for kids throughout and adults for the first two floors; ¥500 adult charge for their digital-networking museum on 3rd floor)
- “Miraikan” – The Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation
- Odaiba Seaside Park (which includes a smaller-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty and a prime view of the Rainbow Bridge)
- Aqua City Odaiba shopping and restaurant complex
- Museum of Maritime Science - ¥700 admission, currently under renovation
Please comment with your additions and suggestions below, or tweet us at @weninchina!
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