Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cheap Thrills

I should wear jeans more often

Tokyo has recently been put at the top of the list as Most Expensive City in the World. Whether it's actually true or not (after all, it's all relative and heavily depends on the currency rate and other varied factors), Tokyo is definitely an expensive place to live. The good news are, it's one of those cities where you can have lots of fun for very little money, or none at all.

In Japan, activities such as going to the cinema or buying (English) books can be very expensive. Traveling around the country is quite costly, especially if you ride the Shinkansen. Eating foods other than Japanese fare is usually quite steep. As for music concerts, they are such a treat and I usually don't attend them unless I have a press pass. The best way to enjoy Japan on a budget is to go local and eat mostly Japanese food, and learn Japanese so you can access the wide variety of books and colourful magazines that I love flipping through.

Tokyo has so much to offer, and here are some (very) random cheap thrills I really love:

Books + magazines
Going to the bookshop and browsing endlessly through all the books and magazines. I highly recommend Daikanyama T-Site, the most gorgeous book shop I have even been to. Just stay away from the café.

Movies + TV shows
Thank goodness for the internet, although maybe not for much longer in Japan.

Hopping on a local train (they are fairly cheap), and just head somewhere I haven't seen before. Tokyo and its surroundings has tons of cultural sights such as temples and shrines, hiking and waterfalls, beaches and unearthed neighbourhoods that I have yet to visit. Also, for a limited time, the brilliant Seishun 18 train pass (which offers unlimited rides all over Japan on local trains) is on sale, so do yourself a favour and pick one up. It's one of the best deals in Japan.

Even though many museums charge a fee, Tokyo is brimming with cool (and free) art galleries and exhibits. I usually check the listing here.

Cycling + walking
The beauty of Tokyo is that it abounds with neighbourhoods, all so different from one another. Sometimes I just grab a coffee and walk aimlessly around my local area, and suddenly find myself somewhere completely new and different. Having a bike would be even better, I'm not sure why I haven't gotten one yet, I miss it!

Food + drinks
Convenience store beverages, especially the canned cocktail kind. Mojitos, anyone? Take them to the street and create a makeshift bar, as drinking in public is fully acceptable everywhere in Japan, something that still amazes me. As for foods, onigiri (rice balls) and ready-made bentos are your best best (and healthy enough) when you're completely skint, as well as creative cooking (using all the food in your fridge). My latest success was a spinach omelet, that started a cross-city competition amongst my friends.

Taking photo booth pictures. Taking pictures of food. Going running. Making playlists. Trying on expensive clothes at designer boutiques. Re-organizing my closet. Lipton Milk Tea(¥105). Window shopping. Sleeping. Bananas (¥88). Painting my nails (nail polish is super cheap in Japan). Finding the best (and weirdest) vending machines. Skyping. Okonomiyaki, udon, and yakisoba. Guest lists and press passes. Free parties. Street drinks. Walking home. Blogging. Drinkable yoghurt (¥110). Paying for groceries with my Pasmo train card.

What are your cheap thrills?

Eating chocolate in my room is what I did today


The Only Blonde in Osaka said...

The bananas one made me giggle. I have become a banana fiend while in Japan, as it's pretty much the only fruit I can afford. =D Cool tights by the way!

Kent Middlemarch-Byron said...

When my wife and I gets a time off from the kids, one of the places where we usually stop over is in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. There is a certain floor there that has free observation galleries, it's got an amazing view of Mount Fuji and Yokohama. It's such an eye treat!

Emelie said...

Going to the supermarket late at night and picking up all the half price deals.
Metropolitan Government Building.
Karaoke for an hour with alcohol in your bag (620yen).
Purikura with all of your friends! :)

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