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Tokyo’s cheap side

Tokyo was named the second most expensive city in the world for expatriates by the Mercer survey.

india Updated: Jul 22, 2011 01:28 IST

After Tokyo was named the second most expensive city in the world for expatriates by the Mercer survey, the London office of the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) swung into action to demonstrate the city as a reasonable destination for tourists. They have pointed out, some eye-catching attractions and sights that can be seen and experienced for free. “You can get conveyor belt sushi for just 60 pence per plate, a huge and delicious bowl of noodles for £5 (Rs 360) and quality hotel rooms can be found around £75 (Rs 5,357) per night or a night in a hostel, such as the hip Toco Tokyo Heritage Hostel, from around £22 (Rs 1,576) per night,” said JNTO.

JNTO has also listed 15 unique things that can be done in the Japanese capital for free. Top of the list is a visit to Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensoji, which was founded in the 7th century. Another must-see is Meiji Shrine, surrounded by 178 acres of lush parkland in the heart of the city. Tokyo also has numerous festivals throughout the year, which are free to attend and include processions, food stalls and live entertainment. Tsukiji Fish Market is also free for visitors, although you will have to get up early to see the market traders in full cry. Not far from Tsukiji is the up-market Ginza district, which is also home to the Sony Showroom, where the latest high-tech gizmos are available.

Some of the best photography companies such as Fuji Film, Canon, Nikon, Kodak, Konica, Minolta and Pentax, all operate free exhibition showrooms in Tokyo. A guided tour with Goodwill Guides takes visitors to off-the-beaten places with a local volunteer. While many traditional gardens that are dotted throughout the city do not charge an entry fee. Zen rock gardens, pools with carp, bonsai trees and stone lanterns are among the attractions at the Imperial Palace East Garden, the Nezu Shrine Garden and Ueno Park, to name a few.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, in the Shinjuku district, does not charge to access the public observation deck on its 45th floor, while dozens of museums — from the huge and mainstream to the tiny and offbeat — are similarly free. Tourists can also visit the Sumo Museum, close to the sumo stadium in eastern Tokyo, the Parasite Museum, the Yebisu Beer Museum or the Fire Museum. Sumo stables are where wrestlers live and train and usually welcome foreign visitors who want to watch them practicing their moves. Another option is to tour the grounds of the Imperial Palace on a Sunday on a borrowed bicycle.

First Published: Jul 21, 2011 18:23 IST