Free things to do in Japan
Travelling on a low budget? Ran out of all your cash? Here’s how to have fun without spending a penny in two vibrant Japanese cities of Kyoto and Osaka
Head to the Nishiki Market
Visit the Daimaru Department Store in the vibrant Nishiki Market, also known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’. Here you can try many free samples on offer, to explore the Japanese cuisine better.
Visit the Imperial Palace in Kyoto
Kyoto Imperial Palace was the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family until 1868, when the Emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. Free-guided tours of the grounds enable you to get to grips with the core of Japan’s monarchy.
Note: No tours are held on Sundays and national holidays. Most Saturdays are also unavailable. Visitors are required to fill an application for free visit.
Learn about Bunraku
Osaka has been at the heart of Bunraku (traditional Japanese puppet theatre) for many centuries. The exhibition at the National Bunraku Theatre has a wealth of knowledge about this quintessentially Japanese art form and its free.
1-12-10, Nippon-bashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0073
Visit the Instant Noodle Museum
Did you know that instant noodles were invented in Japan? One man had the philosophy that ‘peace comes to the world when people have enough to eat’ and his passion led to the invention of this staple of modern Japanese cuisine. At the Instant Noodle Museum you can find out how instant noodles were invented, its history and you can also make your own noodles! There is no entry fees.
The Instant Ramen Museum, 8-25 Masumichō, Ikeda-shi, Ōsaka-fu 563-0041, Japan
Taste Asahi Beer in a brewery
Fancy a beer? You can taste world famous Asahi Beer at Suita Brewery in Osaka. Not only do you get a guided tour of the brewery, but you can sample the freshly brewed beer for free! Make sure you book in advance—as freebies have many grabbers!
1-45 Nishinnoshocho, Suita, Osaka Pref.
Opening hours: Daily 9:30am – 3pm (Tour starts every 30 mins)
Visit Higashi (East) Honganji Temple and Nishi (West) Honganji Temple
It’s just a short walk from Kyoto Station to these famous Temples, both of which are free to enter and great ways to immerse yourself in Kyoto’s peaceful serenity.