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Spooky Exchange rate or Ideas for Free/Low-cost fun in Tokyo and Kyoto

Spooky Exchange rate or Ideas for Free/Low-cost fun in Tokyo and Kyoto

Oct 27th, 2010, 10:06 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 118
Spooky Exchange rate or Ideas for Free/Low-cost fun in Tokyo and Kyoto

Just one week and one day before we fly to Japan. We are excited about our trip but scared of the exchange rate between US$ and the Yen. I would love to hear about some of your favorite free or low cost things to do in Tokyo and Kyoto. If we were in Europe, we would sit in sidewalk cafes and people watch. We will hike and search for koyo outside of Kyoto, but otherwise could use your ideas.

Thanks!
steamboatsista is offline  
Oct 27th, 2010, 03:28 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,322
Koyo, or fall colors - you are a bit early for it. Koyo doesn't get going till mid to late November in Central Japan, and after a hot, lingering summer, it's expected to be late this year. You have to go to Hokkaido, or some really high altitude locations to see any.
As for free or cheap things to do, a good guidebook is your friend, but briefly, the free observation deck at the top of Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings in Shinjuku, traditional Japanese gardens like Hama Rikyu (300 yen), Asakusa (Nakamise-dori, Senso-ji), Museums in Ueno Park, esp the National Museum (600 yen), Meiji-jingu, Yoyogi Park and Harajuku (mainly windwow shopping, people watching). Rummaging in Akihabara and Ameya-yokocho in Ueno - few bargains but great fun.
In Kyoto, admission charge to temples can mount up (300 to 3000 yen), but most Shinto shrines are free. The great thing about Kyoto is you can make your own dicoveries, walking through innumerable alleyways and back streets, looking at shop displays, taking in non-touristy temples and how the old and new survive together in a curious yet fascinating harmony. Don't miss the shopping arcades off Shijo-dori with food and handicraft. Maiko and geisha watching in Gion (go around 5-6 pm). For good hiking outside Kyoto, try Kurama and Hiei.
Alec is offline  
Oct 28th, 2010, 09:27 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
The expensive expense of travel in Japan can be a misconception. Although you can spend a bundle in Japan you can also travel darn near frugally. See here for some tips. Press the buttons under the budget travel guide:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2028.html

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 28th, 2010, 07:58 PM
  #4  
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Thank you both. These tips are great. I did not understand that the Shinto shrines are free. And that Japan guide website...it is amazing what it contains. I have been watching the koyo feature on Japan Guide and it looked as if the fall colors in Nikko and Hokkaido were past their peak and that there might be a chance to see them at lower latitudes and altitudes. I will be looking for Chrysanthemums too.
steamboatsista is offline  
Oct 29th, 2010, 06:48 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Your welcome sis! Just thought of one more reco. Don't know how long you are in Kyoto but if you have time you might want to do a day trip to Osaka and concentrate around this area(again from that wonderful JG site) http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4001.html
The Namba area of Osaka along with the neighboring Dotombori,Shinsaibashi,Amerikamura and Den Den towns will fulfill all your shopping and eating wants, believe me. This area is sometimes called the "Kitchen of Japan" and for very good reason as you will see if you go. Lots of window shopping there too so good sites on a budgeted trip.

For koyo viewing at your times and area look to the moutains around Koyasan, into the upper parts of Hakone such as Gora or even Kawaguchiko. The mountainous areas around Nagoya,Matsumoto and Takayama might be colorful when you get there, good luck!

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  

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