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.
                

Yum, yum: Toronto Beer Fest

We had the pleasure of attending Toronto Beer Fest a few weeks back.
It was so good we went twice in one weekend, in fact. For a great price (about $38), you
can sample hundreds of beers from around the world and experience some great
food offerings. Plus, what’s better than an outdoor festival in the sun, with tasty local and international suds?


We tasted beers from all over the place, and there are so many that we enjoyed. It was tough, but we narrowed it down to our three favourite breweries.

Based out of Barrie Ontario, this brewery’s motto is “normal is weird.”
The style of this booth (and the beer) was exceptionally colourful and fruity.
Not into their very berry flavours? Grab a bottle of Hoptical Illusion, a
flavourful hoppy beer. You can often find us downing a pint of this at 416 Snack Bar for some post-work stress relief.

“Do one thing and do it well”, is the motto of this brewery. Not only is the beer refreshing, we had fun wearing the Steam Whistle box hats around the park, which have been a part of the experience at Toronto’s Festival of Beer since the brewery’s inception. Evidence below.

Normal is weird…
Based out of Tokyo, their rice lagers are very dry and extremely drinkable. Not only good for a visit to your fave sushi restaurant, the beer is perfect for a trip the cottage. Plus, for our wheat intolerant friends, this is one gluten free beer that doesn’t taste like a compromise.


While drinking pints, it’s necessary to have something great to
nosh on, lest we get out of control. Our favourite food vendors from the weekend were some local favourites

We loved the Gorgeous George, which includes a heavenly combination of
peanut butter, bacon and pulled pork. Sounds odd, tastes, well…. gorgeous.

The line up for this booth was absolutely the longest. But we could see
why after sampling their rolls, that consisted of chunky lobster, a light mayo
and crispy buttered bun. Drool.



Make sure to keep your eyes on the http://www.beerfestival.ca for regular updates about next year’s fest. You can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be there again!