As the summer nights draw close and a sense of normality is returning, we are all eager to go out and soak up the lush weather and the buzzing atmosphere. Yet, at times it can be difficult to decide what to do and where to go, especially if you are a student or are on a budget. But that is the wonderful thing about living in Tokyo, it offers so much. Here are my suggestions for the top five budget things to do by yourself or with your friends this upcoming season.
1. Picnic at Shiba Park
Grab a bento and a couple of drinks, lay out a picnic mat, and spend a day chatting with your friends whilst soaking in the atmosphere of Shiba Park. The fact this park is situated right next to the iconic Tokyo tower means that it is a great photo spot. Whilst in this area, take some time to walk around Zojoji Shrine which is literally next door. If you are looking for an alternative, other good parks to stop and have a picnic include Yoyogi Park, Inokashira Park and Shinjuku Gyoen.
2. Ride bikes in Showa Kinen Park
Around March time, this was definitely one of my favourite places to go with my friends. Showa Kinen Park is an easy 30-minute train ride from Shinjuku Station and is the perfect destination to enjoy the summertime. This park has something for everyone. Parts of the park are free for everyone meaning you can just visit here to picnic with friends or just have a nice stroll around. Entering inside the grounds of Showa Kinen Park costs around ¥300 but is completely worth it as there are beautiful flowers and lots more to see. The highlight of Showa Kinen Park is the bike rental, you can rent the bikes for around ¥500 for the whole day and ride around the various parts of the park. Cycling through the park on a warm summer’s day, taking in the views honestly makes you feel like you are in some indie film, it is a feeling kind of indescribable.
3. Enjoy the sea
Around Tokyo, there are many great beaches you can go and visit. My recommendation would be to go to Enoshima for a day. From Shinjuku Station it is about a one hour train ride costing around ¥800 for one way. I would suggest leaving relatively early so you can get the most out of your day as there is much to see and do. You can take it easy by sitting and admiring the clear blue sea or if you are wanting to do some exploring, you can walk around the island and stroll around the many gift shops and restaurants in the area. There are also various shrines and points of interest such as the Sea Candle which you can visit. Ensure that you stay to watch the sunset as it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, if you are lucky, you may be able to see Fujisan in the distance as well.
4. Enjoy nature at Todoroki Valley
For me, taking in Japan’s natural wonders is a must. Going for a walk on a sunny day is a great way to clear your mind, relax and stay healthy. Located a mere 18 minute train ride away from Shibuya station is Todoroki Valley, a gorgeous walking course that feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo. This route, which takes half an hour to complete, is home to a calming stream, lots of greenery, a Japanese tea room for a quick pit stop, and finally a temple at the top of the hill. There is much to explore in this peaceful valley. When I visited with a friend, we sat on the top of the hill with some conbini (convenience store) snacks and just soaked up the sunshine. You really don’t have to travel far to appreciate Japan’s wonderful nature.
5. See Tokyo from the heights
Japan has some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. The colour sensation of the sky turning a mixture of pink, purple, orange always leaves me rather speechless and with goosebumps. Tokyo is filled with many viewing platforms; Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree and Shibuya Sky are the names of just a few. Yet, seeing Tokyo’s sky transform does not have to be an expensive venture. There are many places you can enjoy Tokyo from the heights for free. For example, the Tokyo Metropolitan Building located in Shinjuku is a great option as it is ram-packed as other viewing platforms like Skytree may be and you can see all of Tokyo’s main sights from here. Another alternative is Shibuya Parco, there is an outside seating area where you can see all of Shibuya in peace and quiet.