5 Budget (But Super Fun) Date Courses In Tokyo

There's Nothing Wrong With A Cheap Date!

By Hilary Keyes
November 28, 2018
Adventures, Lifestyle, Relationships

Want to impress your date but can’t really afford a fancy dinner out? Not a problem. A great date in Tokyo doesn’t have to break the bank!

Tokyo always makes it in the top 10 of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, but going on a date in this megacity doesn’t always have to cost a third of your paycheck. In fact, some of the best dates here can cost you two no more than ¥5,000. Here are Savvy’s personally recommended five budget fun date courses for couples of all ages.

1. Seasonal picnic plans

Cherry blossoms, fireworks, autumn foliage, winter illuminations — there are plenty of seasonal events to enjoy in Tokyo, and many of them are usually gratis. If you want to make them into a proper date, head to your nearest ¥100 store and get a plastic sheet to sit on and some lap blankets for fall/winter dates, then choose a few drinks and treats from your local supermarket, café or restaurant, find a good spot and take in the atmosphere.

Since it’s the fall, enjoying an afternoon sitting in Yoyogi Park (free entrance!) or Showa Memorial Park (¥450) with some hot chocolate and a blanket to wrap around yourselves is a wonderful, casual date idea too.

You can literally customize this date course to match any season, event, or situation, so it’s not only a cheap date, but one that you can do in a variety of different ways and even make into a tradition if it goes well enough. The only expenses to consider here are transportation, food and admission costs to parks if applicable, though aiming for a free park is even smarter.

Average Cost: ¥1,500-¥2,500
Recommended places: Yoyogi Park, Showa Memorial Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park, Kasai Rinkai Park, Odaiba Kaihin Park, Shiba Park

2. Walking tours and mystery games 

You might have lived in Tokyo for several years, or even all your life, but how well do you really know the city?

There are plenty of private guided tours of Tokyo that offer great courses of their own. If you are on a shoestring date budget, free walking tours offered by groups like Tokyo Localized, Tokyo Free Walking Tour, Tokyo Free Guide, and the Tokyo SGG Club, are a great way to see the city up close and personal. Some offer free private tours too, so if you don’t want to share your date with a group of tourists, inquire about those as well.

Best of all, you can always stop by at a taiyaki or takoyaki stand, café or restaurant after the tour and enjoy a fun, local meal in a little-known shop with your partner.

And if you’re a bit more adventurous, buy your Tokyo Metro Underground Mystery Game kit at Ueno or Shinjuku and spend the day solving real-life puzzles and playing Sherlock Holmes in Tokyo. The game kit costs ¥2,200 per person but includes a 24-hour valid transportation ticket for the subway and tons of bond-making and team building ops with your partner as you desperately try to figure it all out. The game is available until the end of January next year (for now!). 

Average Cost: ¥0-¥3,000 for the tours, plus transportation and food

3. Public art and garden tours

Tokyo is known for its diverse styles in terms of fashion and food, but it’s also home to some incredible architectural works, amazing Japanese and Western gardens and parks, and beautiful works of public art. While I’ve written about Tokyo’s top 10 unique date spots before, going to check out public displays of art in places like Roppongi, Shibuya, or Shinjuku, can lead to new discoveries, great conversations, and maybe even finding your own little piece of Tokyo to share.

If you want help finding public art near you, check out the Japan Traffic Culture Association’s website where they have lists of wonderful sightseeing spots to enjoy.

There are also many free public museums and art galleries with impressive gardens and cafes: the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture, TEPIA Advanced Technology Gallery, Museum of Yebisu Beer, Shiseido Gallery, Advertising Museum Tokyo — and many more.

Average Cost: ¥0-¥4,000
Recommended places: Roppongi Hills, Midtown, Mohri Garden, Ikebukuro Sunshine City, Ginza Six, Tokyo Station and all museums and galleries mentioned above.

4. A Kaitenzushi date

Who doesn’t love kaitenzushi? It’s cheap, delicious, and offers some truly unique tastes if you go to a lesser known chain location.

Many kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) diners sell a wide variety of other dishes like karaage (fried chicken), takoyaki (mini dumpling filled with octopus, green onion, and pickled ginger), French fries, edamame and other non-fishy delights, as well a good selection of beers, highballs, and of course, sake. They also have season-limited special dishes, and sometimes collaboration desserts with famous pastry shops in Tokyo too, so you never know what you might find.

There are plenty of great kaitenzushi chain restaurants to check out too, and many of them have English menus available as well. Plus, depending on what day of the week you visit, you might even pay less than ¥100 per plate of sushi, which makes this an even more budget-friendly option.

Average Cost: ¥1,000-¥5,000
Recommended restaurants: Sushiro, Genki Sushi, Kappa Sushi, Hamazushi, Kurazushi, Gansozushi

5. Hanging out at a game center

 

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While visiting a game center might sound like the most junior high date around, it’s actually so much fun for any age group out there. If you and your partner are into video games, UFO catchers, gatchapon (mini toy machines), or good old purikura (photo booths), embrace your geekier side and go for it! Some purikura stations have special, season limited photo booths too, featuring holiday-themed characters, celebrity backgrounds, or even posing with one of Japan’s pro wrestlers too. It’s a lot of fun just to see what they have to offer too.

If you prefer more physically active games, many game centers nowadays have VR attractions, basketball or darts shooting games, table tennis, air hockey, and virtual soccer that you can play together too.

And even if you aren’t that into video games, you never know what sort of fun you might get up to. A good friend of mine had some time to kill while waiting for a movie, so she and her date went to the game center and played Mario Kart. They had a blast racing one another and it really opened up new avenues for conversations between them, which brought them closer and got them to start dating seriously.

Average Cost: ¥500-¥5,000

Tokyo is an amazing wonderland of things to see and do that suit literally all tastes and interests, but dating doesn’t have to leave you shaking your wallet for spare change before payday. Consider this your guide to getting the most out of your dates in the city.

What are your recommendations for fun budget dates in Tokyo? Let us know in the comments below.