Jet Set: 10 Tokyo Must-Do’s that Don’t Cost a Penny

It’s that time of year again, you’re starting to think about planning vacations to hot and sunny destinations. Wait, before you book yet another all-inclusive resort, consider a week in one of the world’s premiere cities. Known for being a leader in cultural trends, Tokyo has amazing shopping, nightlife and is the perfect balance between modern metropolis and quaint old world beauty. Contrary to popular belief, Tokyo can be accomplished on the cheap, it just takes a little creativity. The metro system is top notch and will take you straight to any destination that you can imagine. We’ve compiled our top 10 totally free activities below. We hope this inspires you to book your ticket.  

If you haven’t hit karaoke too hard the night before, plan
to get over to the famous market for five a.m. There, you’ll witness the world’s largest fish
market and live auction.
How to get there: Take the metro to Tsukiji-Shijo or Tsukiji
stations and follow your nose!
Worthy spend: Locals will stop by on their way to work for  breakfast and we suggest you take their lead. Be warned, there are no rolls here people, just melt in your mouth pieces of fresh tuna
and salmon. Yummy.

Going once, going twice…

      Breakfast of champions.
2. Look around for Harijuku Girls
Prime Harijuku Girl sightings will generally happen on the weekend. If you’re only planning to stop in Tokyo for a
few days, try to accommodate, you won’t be disappointed. 
These girls put so much effort and detail into their looks – we should have to pay just to look at them – but here’s just another reason why Tokyo is so awesome. Harijuku and
surrounding streets are also filled with boutiques offering new and vintage clothing and accessories. 
How to get there: Take the metro to Harajuku station. Observe.

We’re impressed.
Image source

Good idea, Gwen.

3. Cross the street! Shibuya Crossing
Trust us, this is an activity. This four way intersection is an
experience (you have to be there). At night it’s especially beautiful when the
city lights turn on. We hung out at the coolest Starbucks with glass windows that offer a lookout point for gawking and people watching.
How to get there: Take the metro to Shibuya station.

4. Loiter in a park – Yoyogi Park
Stunning parks offer a sweet escape from the sensory
overload of the city. You may bump into local musicians practising by a tree, a jiu-jitsu class in training – you never know who or what
you might see. Relax and read a book near the pond, which is also a great place for
bird watching.
Worthy spend: Ueno Park.
Ueno has a lot to offer including sprawling gardens, museums,
temples, a zoo and a little amusement park for kids. Visit during cherry blossom
season (which begins in late April) and you’ll be in heaven. 
Admission for adults is around 400 Yen = $4 Canadian. There
is additional admission to visit one of the many museums and art galleries on the park grounds.
How to get there: Take the metro to Ueno station.

Napping in Yoyogi Park, why not?
 Cherry blossom season in Ueno Park. 
The most famous shrine in Tokyo, this is a
gorgeous and understated temple that is open seven
days a week. Take a nice stroll around the temple grounds to take in the charming gardens. Located across from Yoyogi Park, these two landmarks make for one
very zen afternoon.
Meji Shrine temple, located in Asakusa.

6. Spectacular Skyline Views – The Tokyo Metropolitan Building
This government
building has two observation decks that offer breathtaking skyline views. On a
clear day you can see all the way to Mount Fuji and you can locate other Tokyo
landmarks including the Meiji Shrine and the Tokyo Tower. 
There is also a tourist information desk in the building which
is always helpful.

7. Lost in Translation?
Attention movie buffs: Located right around the corner from the Tokyo Metropolitan
Building, The Park Hyatt Tokyo is the infamous hotel where Lost in Translation was filmed. 
Worthy spend: Experience high tea or hang out for a few cocktails in the hotel bar.    

We’d like to be lost in Tokyo anytime, Scarlett.

This tower only opened in March 2012. Although it’s not free to go
up to the observatories, and you must book in advance, it is free to wander around
the shopping floors. The modern architecture and design is what makes this new landmark a must see. 
Worthy spend: Sumida
Aquarium. Located on the 5th floor of the Tokyo Sky Tree, this
aquarium is impressive and features a massive tank filled with penguins and a
few seals that you can watch swim under water. Admission is 2000 Yen = $25 Canadian.

9. Old Town Tokyo – Asakusa and Zenkoji Temple
This is a popular neighbourhood for backpackers as it boasts
many inexpensive yet surprisingly clean hostels, or try a night in a capsule hotel. Spend some time strolling around
the market in Asakusa where you can taste some Japanese treats filled with red bean paste and find other traditional souvenirs.
You will also come across the Zenkoji temple and surrounding
gardens, a truly romantic place to be at night.

 Zenkoji Temple.
10. Festivals 
There are tons of festivals that take place around the city at every time of year. It’s definitely worth looking into what’s happening while you’re there, so that you don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of a true Japanese cultural celebration.

The peace sign! Everyone’s doing it.

Tokyo is a must do for these reasons and many more. Since you’ll be saving some cash with these tips, you can spend a few extra dollars on karaoke bars, a sumo wrestling show or a few nights in one of Tokyo’s many luxury hotels. The city is really yours to interpret and enjoy.

Companion Planting

Some of us on the fourth floor like to garden (some of us…not so much). Since we’re just learning to stretch our green thumbs, we thought we’d share some handy tips we learned recently about how to get the most out of a little plot of land. Let’s face it – in the city, we don’t exactly have one acre gardens, so every square inch counts.

 Even this tiny little pot can produce some tasty plants! Image source.

By planting certain plants together, you can help fend off pesky little bugs, attract helpful ones (like bees) and even help other plants grow better. Cool, right? It’s called companion planting. If you’re into having your own mini garden of Eden this summer, read on.  
Instead of using pesticides and herbicides to kill of harmful pests, there are easy ways to do so naturally. Better for the ground, and better for us, especially if the plants are bearing fruit or veggies. 
Planting marigolds around the perimeter of your garden will keep away beetles. They’re called the “wonder drug” of the plant world, producing a natural pesticide in their roots, which helps out almost any other plant. Plus, they’re pretty and will keep cats away from your plants too.

These lovely blooms look pretty and will make your garden better. Image source.
Often, two veggies planted side-by-side will help each other grow, resulting in more tasty eats for you. Planting asparagus, tomatoes and carrots next to each other is a good thing – asparagus comes in early (like, now) and in the meantime, tomatoes and carrots are growing away. By the time you are finished enjoying the little green spears, the tomatoes and carrots are next up on your plate. Plus, tomatoes help keep away the asparagus beetle. 

Beans are a bit of a super plant – they help out a ton of different veggies and herbs, because they attract nitrogen-fighting bacteria, which helps balance the amount of this element (too much is bad for your plants). Try planting them next to strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce and a whole host of herbs. 

 Beanstalks aren’t just good for Jack – tasty & helpful. Image source.
Speaking of herbs, these flavourful plants are also natural buddies with lots of plants. Basil and tomatoes make each other taste better, and dill, coriander, chives, rosemary and lots of others help out tons of different plants. 

 Herb gardens rock. Image source.

Basically, the more varieties of tasty herbs and vegetables you plant, the better your garden will be, and the tastier your meals. Enjoy.