Free Options and Facilities

Some public places and things for free in Japan

By Elena Lisina    - 4 min read

During my trips I often felt that I needed to save some money and so visited places with no entrance fee. It was also very useful to know about what's free in Japan, so I'd like to share my own experience.

Restrooms. Restrooms are free and located in many public places, such as train stations (and in some trains too), shopping centres and large stores, restaurants, public parks, museums and so on. Public toilets are generally very clean, so in that sense traveling in Japan ought to be comfortable.

Public restrooms are always free in Japan
Public restrooms are always free in Japan

Water. Free water can be found in many public drinking fountains at stations, parks, onsen or public baths (inside) while both free hot water and water with or without ice is always served in restaurants even before ordering. Sometimes green tea is offered. Sauces and condiments are also free of charge.

Drinking water fountain
Drinking water fountain

Information. At large stations like Tokyo, Ueno, Sendai, I found many leaflets and brochures with useful information and maps of cities and transport.

Information Center at Sendai JR Station
Information Center at Sendai JR Station

Temples and Shrines. There are many large temples and shrines that are free to enter, such as Senso-ji, Meiji Jingu, Gotokuji, Sengakuji, Nezu Jinja in Tokyo, Yasaka Jinja and Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka, Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima, Suwa Taisha in Nagano Prefecture, Yamadera and most of the Shinto shrines. Some temples, however, like in Nikko and Kyoto charge a fee.

Yasaka Jinja, Kyoto
Yasaka Jinja, Kyoto

Castles. Castle grounds usually have no entrance fee, but for entering the castle itself purchasing a ticket is required. Spacious grounds with gardens that free can be found at Matsumoto, Osaka and Hiroshima Castles, and many others, of course.

Matsumoto Castle grounds
Matsumoto Castle grounds

Public Parks. Public parks in Japan are free to enter. I visited Ueno, Koganei and Yoyogi parks, the Imperial Eastern Gardens, Higashi Park and Tsutsujigaoka Park in Sendai, Nara Park and many more.

Nara Park
Nara Park

Free observation decks. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and Sendai AER building offer free observation decks. These are some of my favourite places to visit.

Free observation deck at AER Building, Sendai
Free observation deck at AER Building, Sendai

Attractions. Some parks with attractions have no entrance fee, only charging for the rides themselves. I especially liked Cosmo World in Yokohama and Tokyo Dome City Park with its beautiful musical fountain.

Cosmo World amusement park, Yokohama
Cosmo World amusement park, Yokohama

Arts. There are many free museums and galleries - Maruzen Gallery in Tokyo's Oazo Building, Tanabatakan in Sendai, the Umen Noodle and Kokeshi Doll Mini-Museum at JR Shiroish-Zao Station, Sendai International Center Station.

Tanabatakan, Sendai
Tanabatakan, Sendai

Brewery tours. Many factories producing drinks give free tours with degustation opportunities such as SUNTORY, KIRIN, ASAHI.

Free degustation of drinks
Free degustation of drinks

Festivals. All wonderful festivals are for free!

Mikoshi is a highlight of any festival
Mikoshi is a highlight of any festival

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: https://gurushots.com/f10384/photos Matane!

Join the discussion

Kim B 3 weeks ago
Freebies are great!
Sleiman Azizi 3 weeks ago
It sounds weird but I like picking up brochures and leaflets from stations as souvenirs for myself!
Elena Lisina Author 2 weeks ago
It's not weird, Sleiman! All do that! :D