Having Fun on A Budget in Tokyo: a Dorm Student’s Perspective
Leilani here from CIEE’s FA14 Semester! If you’re like me, you’d love going out with friends and having a great time. You’d also love to eat a lot of good food and buy a lot of cute and cool merchandise and clothing from your favorite shops. You know what’s a common theme present in all of the above? It all costs money, and it can end up costing a lot more than what you’d like to admit. I’m here to have an amazing study abroad experience, to learn a lot about the culture and myself, but also to ultimately have a good time! Now, having good time on a budget doesn’t mean that you’re missing out on anything remarkably special, or that you wouldn’t get the most out of what you’re doing. There are plenty of ways to have a ton of fun and eat a lot of good food for reasonable prices!! (We’re talking under 10-15USD) Here are some things my friends and I have come up with to enjoy a weeknight or weekend together. Some will be quite a bit pricey, but those are the ones you save up for and do once a month!
For your every night kind of deal, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with just hanging out in the dorm common room lounge with your friends and popping in a movie. In fact, we’ve had many an awesome night going to 7-11 (yes, the gas station 7-11, but let me tell you it’s a whole other world. The world of Conbini), buying a bunch of snacks for 100yen (~1USD), and just throwing in a good movie. It’s important to note that each dorm is a bit different, but in general dorms have common room lounges and space to cook. The dorm that we currently live in is an international house filled with accommodations for your cooking and lounging needs. There is a larger common area with the kitchen and TV and game systems, but then there is a smaller, more private room that holds a very special place in my heart. This smaller room has a sliding door, and a TV with an hdmi cable to hook up your laptop to. In this fashion, we have watched many a movie or TV series and sat around the table with our endless snacks. It’s also a great place to study privately or in a group with your friends. One of my favorite things we did in there was celebrated one of our friend’s birthdays! It was a surprise event, and we brought down a Japanese styled birthday cake complete with candles and presents. He was so caught by surprise and it was such a wonderful night! Little things like that can be fun, and we didn’t spend more than 15USD each for that night!
Depending on your dorm location, you may be able to gain easy access to one of the many commercial hubs of Tokyo. Another big thing we love to do that doesn’t cost much is go to Sunshine City, a huge shopping complex in Ikebukuro. Ikebukuro just happens to be on our commuter route so it costs us nothing to get there by train, and it’s only one stop away on the express train from our dorm. Now, you could potentially spend a lot of money at Sunshine City, with it being a shopping center, but most of the stores there are very reasonably priced and the restaurants are delicious and affordable, as well!! I’ve purchased some very cute items for good prices, say 3 things for ~10USD, but the best part for me is, again, the food. There are so many good snack shops and restaurants where you won’t spend more than 10USD at a time. We’ve enjoyed…
Super good Ramen…
Amazing Tonkatsu Dinners…
Bubble /Boba Tea…
…and, the best crepes, next to Harajuku of course!
Sunshine City is definitely one of my favorite spots to visit! All of that for a decent price is definitely worth your while!
Now, budgeting also means saving up for bigger weekend excursions. You’ll definitely want to do some pretty big trips to see some of the big things in Japan, such as Mt. Fuji, or going to Kyoto to visit the more traditional side of Japan. These are going to be events you’ll want to do a little planning beforehand to get your group together and to make sure you’ve put away enough money to save up for your little adventure! For instance, one of my all time favorite activities we did was go to Tokyo Disney for the day. Tokyo Disney is actually a good deal cheaper than Disney in Florida or California! A ticket was less than $70 and the food was only around $10. For the day, we spent maybe less than $100 on food, tickets, and merchandise. And, the best part about our trip was the timing since it was Halloween!! It’s definitely a must do for Disney fans and fans of cute and exciting fun! There are a bunch of Tokyo Disney exclusives you can’t experience anywhere else in the world, and it’s a great weekend trip for a group of friends! There is another Disney theme park next to Tokyo Disneyland called Tokyo Disney Sea, which is exclusive to Japan. We’re hoping to explore both parks for our friend’s birthday, which will be a lot of fun!
Hope these little activities were helpful or at least insightful as to what you can do for fun around Tokyo for just a bit of money. Budgeting is always important, and I think it’s always a good idea to have some emergency money in your room, too. But budgeting doesn’t have to stop you from having fun. There are plenty of ways to have inexpensive fun that will be memorable and amazing, while there are even greater experiences worth saving up for~
Ta Ta for now,
Class of 2015