Tokyo on a Budget... Seriously!



Description:

You may have heard that Tokyo is an expensive place to visit, but the truth is that the city can be surprisingly friendly on the wallet. With a little digging, you'll find lunch for around 500 yen, a draft beer for around 200, and a place to stay for as little as 4000. Stick to Tokyo's more down-home neighborhoods, stay away from the tourist traps, and soak up the life of an average Tokyoite – you'll end up with a fulfilling and authentic experience, dirt cheap. Your base of operations for the next four days will be Shinjuku. Apart from offering a lot in the way of cheap entertainment, it's the transportation hub of the city, meaning less time and, more importantly, money spent on those oh-so-taxing train fares.

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Author: Alex


Day 1 - Tokyo


Dive right in to the Tokyo rush and stay at the Green Plaza Hotel (http://www.hgpshinjuku.jp/hotel/index.html), a full-service capsule hotel in Shinjuku's seedy but safe and always entertaining Kabukicho district. Spend your first night taking in the lights, sights, and crowds of dizzying Shinjuku. A nocturnal stroll in this part of the city is entertainment in itself. After a night spent charting back alleys, perusing smoky pachinko parlors, and sleeping in a six-foot capsule, you'll probably want a taste of nature. Ditch your bags at a locker in Shinjuku station and head to your nearest supermarket or convenience store and pack a lunch. You can pick up a bento or a box of sushi for around 500 yen, wherever you go. Your destination is Shinjuku Gyoen where, for a measly 200 yen, you can spend the day taking in the green oasis in the middle of Tokyo's busiest district. For dinner, skip the ceremony and fill up on a bowl of ramen – the Japanese dining obsession – at Kohmen. Then, head to Alps (2-35-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo), a hard-to-find izakaya close to the Green Plaza. Here, you'll take in the time-honored Japanese traditions of eating and drinking at rock-bottom prices. A draft beer is 100 yen a glass, 500 a pitcher, and small traditional dishes start at 500 yen. Don't miss the gyoza or the basashi (raw horse meat).


1

Shinjuku Gyoen

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Location:

11 Naitocho
Shinjuku-ku
160-0022 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3350 0151
fax: +81 3 3350 1372


2

Kohmen

Location:

Shinjuku 3-32-2 1 2F
Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 3 5919 1660


Day 2 - Tokyo


After one night in a capsule hotel, the novelty has probably worn off and the cramping has set in, so splurge a little and switch over to the very reasonable Hotel Listel Shinjuku. Days 2 and 3 will take you through some of Tokyo's most important cultural and historical attractions, with as little an impact on your coin as possible. If you're looking at a subway map of Tokyo, you'll probably notice that the metropolis's array of colored train lines all avoid one green patch smack dab in the center of the city. Head to the Imperial Palace for a beautiful (and free) walking tour of the premises. Most of the palace is closed to the public, but the surrounding areas, and the Japanese gardens, should not be missed. If you happen to be there on the 23rd of December, the Emperor's birthday, you'll get access to the inner palace and even a speech from the man himself, without spending a yen. The best way to get to the Imperial Palace is via Tokyo station. After checking out the palace, take a stroll through the chic Marunouchi neighborhood, one of the city's oldest business districts, for some window shopping. Eventually, you'll end up at Tokyo station, a beautiful example of early Western-inspired architecture and an important transportation hub. From Tokyo station you can go just about anywhere. Get on the Ginza line (the city's first subway line) to Asakusa and, once you're there, tour the main drag of vending stalls leading up to Senso-ji Temple. Munch on some freshly cooked sembei (rice crackers) while perusing all those kitschy Japanese souvenirs to take back for your friends, at reasonable prices. At the temple, pay your respects and don't forget to pick up a fortune (in English) from the little stand to the left of the altar – locals insist that the ones here make only the most reliable predictions. Well worth your 100 yen. Hit any of Asakusa's down-to-earth eateries, blessedly free of tourist traps (and prices) for everyday Japanese fare such as okonomiyaki (Japanese “pancakes”) or takoyaki (fried octopus dough-balls).


1

Hotel Listel Shinjuku

Location:

5-3-20 Shinjuku
Shinjuku-ku
160-0022 Tokyo, JP

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3350 0123
fax: +81 (0)3 3350 0444


2

Imperial Palace

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Location:

Kokyo Higashi Gaien
Chiyoda-ku
100-0001 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3213 1111


3

Tokyo Station

Location:

Marunouchi 1-chome
Chiyoda-ku
100-0005 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 50 2016 1603


4

Senso-Ji Temple

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Location:

2-3-1 Asakusa
Taito-ku
111-0032 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3842 0181


5

Asakusa Shrine

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Location:

2-3-1 Asakusa
Taito-ku
111-0032 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3844 1575
fax: +81 (0)3 3841 2020


Day 3 - Tokyo


Make the trek east across Tokyo to Ueno. Coming out of the station, you're right next to Ueno park, one of the city's largest. If you're hungry, check out Ameyoko, also right next to the station. This bustling, long-established shopping street offers some great cheap eats. Tuck in to any of the tiny tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) or ramen shops lining the street for an authentic experience. Take a walk through the huge park at your leisure. Eventually, you'll end up at the Tokyo National Museum where, for one low admission price, you get access to several museums showcasing Asia's, and especially Japan's, history and art. The museum closes at 5pm, so get here early if you want any chance of covering everything. The amount of exhibits can be overwhelming. Head back to Shinjuku for a quick stop by the hotel before walking to Shin-Okubo, Tokyo's Korean district. Here, you'll find a plethora of yakiniku (Korean barbecue) establishments to satisfy your belly, and your wallet. Spend the night eating meat you cook yourself on the grill, and drinking shochu (rice spirits) among a usually rowdy crowd.


1

Ameyoko

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Location:

Between Ueno and Okachimachi
Tokyo, Japan


2

Ueno Park

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Location:

Ueno Koen
Taito-ku
110-0007 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3201 3331 (Tourist information)


3

Tokyo National Museum

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Location:

13-9 Ueno Park
110-0007 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3822 1111
fax: +81 (0)3 3821 9680 (Business development section)


Day 4 - Tokyo


Start off from Shinjuku and walk south to Yoyogi Park, Tokyo's largest. On the way, you'll get a good tour of West Shinjuku's skyscraper district. Pack a lunch and spend some quality green time exploring the expansive park grounds with views of the skyscrapers. It's easy to lose yourself here, and by all means you should do so, until you come across Meiji Shrine. At Meiji Shrine, take in the beautiful architecture devoted to the emperor who shaped modern Tokyo, and Japan in general. If you're lucky, you might even catch a traditional Japanese wedding procession, making its slow progress across the central plaza. In fact, you don't even have to be very lucky – Meiji is Tokyo's most popular wedding venue. Take the park exit toward Harajuku, where a walk in itself is a study in Tokyo's youth culture. Follow the crowd coming from the JR station down Takeshita-dōri, where you'll get your fill of the famous Harajuku cosplay scene. Walking away from the station on Takeshita-dōri, you'll find an excellent 100-yen shop – one of Tokyo's largest – a boon for any thrifty traveller seeking some last-minute gifts or souvenirs. Harajuku's shops are also on the inexpensive side, as long as you avoid the boutiques on Neko Dori (Cat Street). Go back to the JR station, and this time follow the crowd toward Omotesando. On the corner, you'll find Jangara Ramen (1-13-21 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo http://www.kyusyujangara.co.jp), a landmark ramen shop that's a perennial favorite among the youth set. Splurge on the deluxe bowl ($10) and dig in to a seriously satisfying experience. Continue your walking tour down Omotesando Dori, where you'll quickly end up in Omotesando itself. For the tourist on a shoestring, the upscale stores along the tree-lined street are off-limits, but window shopping (and drooling) is allowed, and it's a nice walk to Shibuya from here. Your day ends in Shibuya where, as the sun sets over Tokyo, the streetlights, jumbo-trons, and neon signs illuminate the thick crowd flooding Hachiko crossing. Get your requisite photo with Hachiko, the statue of the dog in front of Shibuya station; it's Tokyo's number one meeting spot. Finish off at Coins Bar, where all your drinks are 300 yen.


1

Yoyogi Park

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Location:

2-1 Yoyogi-Kamizono-cho
Shibuya-ku
151-0052 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3469 6081


2

Meiji Jingu Shrine

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Location:

1-1 Kamizono-cho
Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku
151-0053 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3379 5511


3

Cycle around Meiji Shrine

Location:

10 Kasumigaoka
Shinjuku-ku
160-0013 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 (0)3 3405 8753 (Sunday & Holidays) / +81 (0)3 3582 3311 (Weekdays)


4

Harajuku

Location:

Area around Harajuku Station
Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 3 5321 3077


5

Shibuya

Location:

Area around Shibuya Station
Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 03 5321 3077


6

Hachiko Statue

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Location:

Hachiko Plaza
Shibuya, Shibuya-ku
150-0000 Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 3 5321 3077


7

Coins Bar

Location:

36-2 Noa Shibuya Building B1
Udagawa-cho
Tokyo, Japan

Contact:

tel: +81 03 3463 3039


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