community-forum community-penpal community-userReports destinations-admission destinations-beenThere-outline destinations-beenThere-solid destinations-city_outline destinations-city_solid destinations-closedDays destinations-date destinations-getThere destinations-hotels destinations-hoursFees destinations-itineraries-3 destinations-links destinations-nearbySpots destinations-pin-simple-outline destinations-pin-simple destinations-sortBy-dots destinations-thumbsUp destinations-tours destinations-town destinations-wishlist-heart-outline destinations-wishlist-heart-solid interests-agriculture interests-amusementParks interests-beaches interests-castles interests-city_solid interests-contemporaryArt interests-events interests-festivals interests-flowers interests-foodDrink interests-gardens interests-hiking interests-historicSites interests-industry interests-koyo-single interests-koyo interests-mangaAnime interests-museums interests-nature interests-onsen interests-parks interests-pottery interests-sakura-single interests-sakura interests-scenicRides interests-shopping interests-shrines interests-skiing interests-snow interests-sumo interests-temples interests-traditionalArts interests-traditionalTheater interests-viewpoints interests-volcanoes interests-wildlife interests-winterIlluminations news-section planning-section planning-tickets-2 planning-transportation-access planning-transportation-bicycle planning-transportation-boat-2 planning-transportation-boat planning-transportation-bus planning-transportation-car planning-transportation-plane planning-transportation-shinkansen planning-transportation-tickets planning-transportation-train planning-transportation-walk shapes-chevron-down shapes-circle shapes-star social-fb social-gplus social-instagram social-twitter social-youtube ui-alert-construction ui-alert-warning ui-calendar ui-date ui-globe ui-lightbulb ui-no_entry ui-ok ui-pencil ui-reverse ui-search ui-time ui-video-play ui-x user-avatar

While Japan has plenty of enjoyable sightseeing attractions that are free, most museums, temples, castles and gardens charge an admission of at least a few hundred yen. Yet there are a variety of discounts that can decrease your sightseeing expenses a little bit.

Free Sightseeing

Below is a list of popular sightseeing spots and activities that do not cost admission:

Sensoji Temple
Owakudani
Mazda Museum
Kirin Beer Factory
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Tocho Observatory

Discounted Sightseeing

Below are a few passes and discounts to look out for:

  • Discounts for Foreigners
    Keep an eye out for discounts offered to foreigner travelers, such as some Tobu Nikko Free Passes that combine travel and admission to the sights of Nikko and Kinugawa. Other notable discounts for foreigners include free admission to all the prefectural sites in Nara and discounted admission to selected attractions around Matsue. So called "Welcome Cards" provide foreign visitors with discounts and small gifts in various regions of Japan. There currently exist such cards among others for the northern Tohoku Region, Narita, the Mount Fuji area, Kagawa Prefecture and Fukuoka. Check out tourist information centers to find out what deals are available, and note that you may need to present your passport to qualify for the discounts.
  • Child and Senior Discounts
    Many attractions offer child and senior discounts. Child rates typically apply to those younger than 12 years old, although some places also offer discounts to high school and university students. Students may need to present a school ID or international student card to qualify for the discount. Senior discounts typically apply to those 65 years or older.
  • Coupons
    Some tourist attractions, such as museums, theme parks and public baths, distribute coupons at local tourist information centers and hotels to be picked up and used freely by tourists. Some of these coupons can also be found as printable online versions, posted on their websites (and usually linked from the corresponding page of our sightseeing guide).
  • Combination Tickets
    Some places offer combination tickets that combine admission to two or more attractions in one area at a discounted cost. A popular example is the combination ticket to Nikko's shrines and temples, which offers substantial savings (and convenience) over paying individually. Check our sightseeing guide for local details.
  • Grutt Museum Pass
    The Grutt Museum Pass provides free or discounted admission to over 60 museums and zoos in the Tokyo area. The pass costs 2000 yen and is sold from April through January at participating museums and zoos and at selected convenience stores and travel agents. The pass is valid for two months from its first use. A similar pass exists for the Kansai Region.
Nara provides free admission to foreign tourists to prefectural tourist attractions

Shopping

The easiest way to save money on shopping is to not go shopping at all, or at the very least to limit yourself to window shopping. But realistically most travelers will want to do some shopping if only to buy souvenirs for their friends and relatives or themselves.

Many people also come to Japan with the hopes of scoring good deals on things like electronics or brand name fashion that may be more expensive in their home countries. If this describes you, make sure to familiarize yourself with the prices of items at home before you get to Japan to confirm that prices in Japan are really lower. The following are some other shopping tips:

  • 100 Yen Shops
    100 yen shops are a found all over Japan and sell a wide range of products for 108 yen per item (100 yen plus 8 percent consumption tax) including candy, stationery, household goods and tools. And they are popular with travelers since they usually carry a good selection of Japanese souvenirs, such as chopsticks, bowls and sake sets that are of surprisingly good quality and considerably cheaper than at regular souvenir shops.
  • Sales
    There are two major sale seasons per year in Japan, one beginning in December and another around June. A popular item during these sales are lucky bags (fukubukuro), which cost anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 yen or more. While the contents are a mystery, the value of the items inside is supposed to be worth more than the price tag. Lucky bags sold after New Year are especially coveted, with people lining up early to get them from popular stores. In addition, smaller sales are held throughout the year, especially towards the end of seasons to clear out inventory and make room for the next season. The actual dates and lengths of the sales vary by store. A few stores also have daily or weekly deals that are advertised on flyers available at the store entrance.
  • Tax Free Shopping
    Visitors to Japan can have the 8% consumption tax waived when spending more than 5000 yen in one day at a licensed tax-free store, which are typically department stores and chain electronics stores in larger cities. A passport is required when shopping tax free. Be aware of eventual import limits of your home country in order to avoid being charged duty fees by customs upon returning home.
  • Point Cards
    Some stores, large chain electronic stores in particular, have point cards which allow customers to earn a percentage of their purchase (typically between 3 and 15 percent depending on the item) in points. The points can then be used on future purchases, with one point usually corresponding to one yen. Point cards can be obtained at the register at the time of your initial purchase. While point cards do not provide a discount on the initial purchase, they are a great way to get accessory items when making a larger purchase, for example getting a memory card or extra battery after purchasing a digital camera.

Budget Travel Guide

Page last updated: January 6, 2016