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8 Free Things to Do in Tokyo on a Rainy Day

Updated on May 15, 2015

Rainy days in Tokyo can be boring, but we got you covered.

view of Tokyo at night from the Shinjuku Government building
view of Tokyo at night from the Shinjuku Government building | Source

1) Watch the view from the Shinjuku government building

This is a bit of a classic, but if you never went on a rainy day, why not? The view will be an interesting change from the sunny panorama.

If for some reason Shinjuku is not to your taste (that might have something to do with the dudes trying to carry you to a host club), a similar possibility exists in other facilities, like the Tourist Information Center in Asakusa, or the Bunkyo Civic Center.

A typical Shibuya Ruby Room live
A typical Shibuya Ruby Room live | Source

2) Find a free live

It may seem weird, but a bands sometimes actually offer free live around Tokyo, as a way to promote themselves. You may still need to pay a drink ticket fee (around 500-600 yen depending on the place), but the live itself will be free of charge.
Sometimes, live bars will also have music. While you will have to get a drink, there is no cover charge and the live itself is free.
Another idea is also to look for free lives in bigger music stores, like Tower Records branches. Take a look at their website and see if there is anything that sparks your interest
How to find free lives? Music stores often distribute free magazines, and you can find some info there. If you are familiar with livehouses, check their websites and see if there is anything free coming up. Good places to start are Oath or Rubyroom in Shibuya, or you can take a walk among the several livehouses of Shimokitazawa.

3) Go to a club for free

This works well especially if you're a girl. Several clubs or livehouses hosting DJs will have free entrance if you go before a certain time (usually early evenings) - a couple of example being club Camelot in Shibuya and the livehouse The Game, always in Shibuya. Tokyo International Party also promotes free parties around Tokyo every once in a while, and all you have to do it subscribe to their newsletter to be updated.

Club Camelot (クラブキャメロット), Shibuya

4) Visit a museum for free

Some museums will be free on certain days of the month or of the year (for example, the National Museum of Modern Art is free every first Sunday), while others are always free (like the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, which unfortunately is currently closed for renovation and will re-open in Fall 2016).
There are also some free museums dedicated to anime (like the Suginami Animation Museum or the Tokyo Anime Center in Akihabara, not properly a museum but still hosting exhibits) and weird museums like the Meguro Parasite Museum (the only museum in the world dedicated to parasites), the Yebisu Beer Museum, the Sumo Museum, the Bank of Japan Currency Museum, the Chofu Aerospace Center and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Museum.

National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo | Source

5) Explore a mall

This may be fun only for the shopping addicts, but Japan has a huge quantity of malls with dozens of shop selling both cute and cool or wacky stuff.
Best places to have an interesting afternoon are malls catering also to an anime/manga audience, like Sunshine City in Ikebukuro or Nakano Broadway.
Pro tip: if you go to the food section of department stores (usually the basement), you may be lucky and get free food samples!

Nakano Broadway entrance
Nakano Broadway entrance | Source
Tokyo Metropolian Central Library
Tokyo Metropolian Central Library | Source

6) Go to a free conference, government-sponsored event or library

If it's during the week and you're a knowledge nerd, check universities in Tokyo: most of the conferences are open to the public, and while some require advanced registration, some others don't. Check also the single departments' websites, and remember that several universities have programs in English.
Additionally, check the website or pamphlets of the "ku" you're living into: sometimes the local government will sponsor free events, some of which are catered to integrating foreigners into the local daily life.
Finaly, several libraries in Tokyo will accept membership if you live in the area. Or you can browse the magazines at the Tokyo Magazine Bank in the Tama Library (part of Tokyo Central Library), or drop by at the Only Free Paper shop in Shibuya where you can browse the enormous quantity of free magazines that get published in the city.

7) Learn what to do during an earthquake

Especially if you're planning to stay in Japan for a long time, it's good to be prepared for natural distasters. The Tokyo Fire Department Life Safety Learning Center in Ikebukuro offers free tours, during which you can watch videos about the earthquakes that happened in Japan, experience an earthquake simulator, escape from a house on fire and use a fire estingusher. Since the tours are conducted in Japanese, this activity is better for those with a grasp of the language or with a translator friend accompaning them. Make sure to check the hours of the tours!

8) Find free events on Meetup

In Tokyo, Meetup is actually more commonly used than what you would think. There are groups for people passionate in all kind of fields (photography, writing, learning languages, hiking...) and you could find some free events in line with your passion. If in doubt, at least check the Tokyo Free Events and Activities Meetup linked on the side!

And if you have any other suggestion, feel free to share it in the comments!

Which one of these activities sounds the most interesting to you?

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