Where to eat, shop and play in Tokyo on a budget

Japan is full of culture, history and charm – and there is plenty to enjoy on a budget. Source: Alex Knight/Unsplash

TOKYO comes in at fourth on the list of world’s most expensive cities to live, trailing behind Singapore, Hong Kong and Zurich. But for those on a tighter budget it has its hidden inexpensive gems and we are here to tell you where to find them.

Whether it is shopping, dining or entertainment you are seeking in Japan’s capital city, here are some top, budget-friendly, tips.

Shopping

Shimokitazawa

If you are after a one-of-a-kind outfit, or just love to indulge in pre-loved beautiful clothes, then Shimokitazawa is the place for you. Often described as a hipster’s paradise because of its colorful, vibrant charm and unique garments, it is perfect for showing off your individuality.

Most of the shops here sell second-hand goodies, but some lucky bargain hunters can pick up designer labels such as Ferragamo for around US$30 (¥3300).

Those with some time on their hands can flick through LP records, which are crying out to be played and grooved to. You can also pick up cool home furnishings for low prices, as well as beautiful hand-crafts.

After a day perusing the shops, take a well-earned rest and dine on some of Japan’s best love soup curries, from Magic Spice to Nan Station, you won’t be stuck for choice.

Isezakicho

The old streets of Isezakicho have a certain charm about them that attracts visitors from far and wide, eager to grab a bargain or just to admire the market treasures. The street stretches along a few blocks and homes everything from second-hand clothing shops such as EcoWearMarket to pre-used electronics, bric-a-brac, books and gadgets.

The treasure trove of bargains to be found on this street is ever changing. One day you may be able to snap up a vintage Kimono for around $22 (¥2400), and on other days, cycle home on a fully working second-hand bicycle. Isezakicho is a curious shopper’s paradise; you will find things you didn’t even know you needed.

Eating

Afuri

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With more than 7,000 ramen restaurants in Tokyo, it is hard to stand out. But we think Afuri is up there with the best in terms of taste, experience and price – with a meal for two coming in for around $15.

You can find Afuri in a side street out the back of Ebisu Yokocho, a shopping and dining arcade full of tantalizing treats for the palate.

The menu consists of noodles, available round the clock, and fragrant Shio Ramen consisting of chicken, seafood and konbu seaweed. For something a little different, try the quirky yuzu-scented yuzishio-men served in a golden soup and topped with pork.

This restaurant is the original Afuri. Due to popularity, there are now a dozen or so dotted around the city.

Sakaezushi

You can’t really go to Japan and not try sushi, can you? If you are on a budget but desperate to dig into some maki rolls or delicately sliced sashimi, then fear not as Japanese restaurateurs understand that the budget struggle is real. Which is why places like Sakezushi exist.

Sakezushi serves incredible sushi for such a little cost. Situated right outside Keisei-Tateishi Station, it is perfect for an on-the-go snack or a real sushi experience.

Serving up fresh Edo-style sushi plates for as little as $1, here you can also find melt-in-the-mouth scallops and fresh, salty oyster, perfect with a little bit of spice.

Entertainment

Tsukiji Market

For travelers who don’t mind the pongy whiff of a fish market, we suggest you head down to the famous tuna auctions at Tsukiji Market.

It will be an early start, so be sure to set your alarm for before 5am to ensure you get one of the maximum 120 daily viewing places at the market.

Japan is famous for its tuna, and the amount it is traded is unparalleled around the world. The market is steeped in history and a significant part of Japan’s history. With small beginnings back in the 16th century on the side of a river, it has grown to the multi-billion-dollar turnover it sees every year.

Get to grips with tomorrow’s technology

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Japan is renowned for being one of the global leaders in new technology, much of it hidden behind closed doors waiting for its big reveal. However, Toyota has a public showroom called Mega Web, and it is completely free to visit.

Here you can test drive prototypes of the automaker’s Winglet – a Segway-like personal mobility vehicle – and try out other cool technology before the rest of the world gets to see it.