glico factory tour tokyo

The Free Glico Factory Tour in Chiba: Taste Freshly Made Ice Cream!

Glico is Japan’s most famous sweets and candy giant, a company with a history of almost 100 years. Every Japanese person knows the Glico man, the characteristic sign of the company that most prominently graces a massive billboard in Osaka. Just in July 2017, Glico opened a brand-new factory in Chiba, just an hour and a half away from Tokyo! The best part about this is that the factory, specializing in ice cream, can be toured entirely for free! Lots of experiences await, both hands-on and gourmet!

Glicopia Chiba: Producing Japan’s Favorites

Provided by Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd.

The factory is called Glicopia Chiba and offers the “ice cream tour,” an experience that, for the first time in Glico’s history, can be enjoyed entirely for free! Only a prior reservation is required, nothing more. A lot of Japan’s favorite ice cream snacks are made here, such as Papico. Papico is a small bottle of thin plastic filled with delicious sherbert-style ice cream. You pop off the lid and squeeze the ice cream directly in your mouth. The free tour is held five times per day: at 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. It takes about 70 minutes. Of course, we had to try it!

glico factory tour tokyo

After checking in at the reception, we explored the lobby a little bit before out tour started. When you hear “factory tour,” you might think of industrial-looking carts making you jump out of the way, but Glicopia Chiba is fancy enough to look like a modern art museum .

glico factory tour tokyo

The first thing that’ll catch your eye is the brand’s mascot – the Glico Man! He seems to jump from the wall in his signature pose from Osaka’s Dotonbori sign and makes for an excellent photo spot for quirky snapshots!

glico factory tour tokyo

There are tons of items and décor that match the many famous Glico products. The toilet sign lady, for example, tried her hand at being the Glico Man as well, and we got to sit down on a comfy sofa shaped like Papico ice cream! You’ll feel yourself getting excited as you keep discovering more and more details.

glico factory tour tokyo

Time passed almost too quickly, and the tour started. The first part was learning more about the history of the company, called Ezaki Glico Co. Ldt., as well as the history of ice cream itself. The 20-minute video is interesting and you’ll learn plenty of things you didn’t know before.

glico factory tour tokyo

The video is easy to understand for both adults and children, giving a hint about how fun and light-hearted the rest of the tour is going to be. We were eager to see what came next!

Entering the Bowels of the Factory!

The real tour starts after the video! It is always held in two groups. First of all, we follow our guide in the sky-blue uniform up to the 5th floor. From there, you’re usually not allowed to take any pictures, but they made an exception for us!

glico factory tour tokyo

Suddenly, we were standing in front of a large tunnel! This is a replication of the “clean room” which gets rid of dust, fluff, and loose hair off of the workers before entering the factory. As you pass through, a powerful air shower will engulf you and clean you right off! It’s fun to not only get to experience the production but also part of a worker’s routine.

glico factory tour tokyo

The tour leads you along a glass corridor that directly looks down on the factory below. Glicopia Chiba was built from the start with a factory tour in mind, so your tour guide will explain every step of the manufacturing process with the help of monitors and panels – and with perfect timings. At the “ingredients and raw material” stage, you’ll get to see the “three-temperature-zone warehouse” where the ingredients for Glico’s ice cream varieties are stored, depending on what temperature is best for them. We discovered things such as sugar, juice, milk, and butter!

glico factory tour tokyo

Next up: the Mixing Corner! Here is where sugar, milk, butter, and more are mixed into an ice cream mix. This happens in massive tanks that you can see in the picture below.

glico factory tour tokyo

Next up is the “Aging Tank,” where the liquid mix is allowed to rest for a while to become Papico ice cream. Apparently, this is what gives it such a smooth texture. It’s a fascinating experience to see the secrets behind the ice cream classic – but for this reason, we weren’t allowed to take photos here. Trade secrets! There’s a device that lets you understand the inner mechanisms of the tank, allowing you to witness several different things that you usually wouldn’t be able to see with cutting-edge technology. Make sure to take a thorough look!

glico factory tour tokyo

At the “Filling,” the Papico ice cream mix is filled into the characteristic bottles at incredibly high speed and precision. It's almost mesmerizing watching the machines do their work so perfectly, over and over again.

glico factory tour tokyo

Special monitors allow you to move the cameras installed in the factory – you even can zoom in on whatever you like! It’s a fun and modern way to witness the process from up close.

glico factory tour tokyo

After that, we took the elevator to the 3rd floor. But it’s not a regular elevator at all! We don’t want to spoil the surprise, so we’re not telling you what awaits – but you should look forward to it!

glico factory tour tokyo

On the 3rd floor is an experience corner that recreates the freezer where the ice cream boxes are stored until they’re shipped. It’s icy -10ºC (14 ºF) in there!

glico factory tour tokyo

The last step is the “Shipping.” According to Glico, the size of the truck exactly matches the size of the entrance so that insects from outside cannot find their way into the truck while it is loaded. That’s quality control on a whole new level!

glico factory tour tokyo

Glico’s factory tour isn’t just watching and learning, it is a fun experience that involves every sense! You’re rewarded with a “freshly made” Papico ice cream at the end, so that’s a highlight as well!

glico factory tour tokyo

This is the super-fresh Papico! As we tried, we had to agree that the ice cream really does taste different! Yummy!

The Experience Doesn’t End with the Tour: Making Ice Cream!

The Experience Doesn’t End with the Tour: Making Ice Cream!

Why not make some ice cream yourself after the tour is over?

Provided by Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd.

For an extra 1,500 yen (from two people), you’ll get to make a simple ice cream from the very ingredients that Glico uses itself!

glico factory tour tokyo

This little workshop happens in the lobby where a little shop also sells rare Glico products that you won’t find anywhere else anymore, such as the super-long Cream Collon or the Giant DreamPocky. Surprise yourself and friends with these rare, colorful treats!

The Glicopia Chiba Factory Tour – Fun, Interesting, and Unique!

The factory tour of Glicopia Chiba really satisfies all five senses. Looking behind the curtain of one of Japan’s most famous manufacturers is a surprisingly exciting experience that we recommend to both children and adults! Look forward to a freshly made Papico and a whole lot of fun! The reservation for the tour can be made here (Japanese only):

  • Address 10, Bansho, Noda-shi, Chiba, 278-0041, Japan

Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Admission: free (with reservation) Closed: Fridays, during Obon, during New Year's, for maintenance

Written by Osoroshiko

  • Area Chiba Suburbs
  • Category Other Sightseeing

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Kirin beer yokohama factory tour.

Kirin Beer Yokohama Factory Tour

In this tour of the Yokohama Kirin Factory you'll have a chance to sample different types of wort, taste the malt and smell the hops used to make beer. The intent is to let people experience beer making with all five senses. There is also a tour that takes you on a journey through nature and the history of the brewery, as well as a family tour. At the end of each tour you'll be offered a free sampling of up to three Kirin beers on tap! Beer lovers can't miss this one.

Kirin Beer Yokohama Factory Tour

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Akagi Nyugyo Factory Tour

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Snack Attack! Delicious Confectionery Factory Tours Across Japan

glico factory tour tokyo

Maybe you’ve heard of Choco Pie, Pocky or even Unagipie, but have you ever wondered how your Japanese sweets are made? These fascinating factory tours are a great way to learn more about your favorite treats! 

Modern Japanese snacks: A blend of sweet and savory

In the past, Japanese snacks and sweets often used rice, beans and eggs. These simple ingredients can be found in popular snacks like dango, dorayaki and senbei. In modern times, the number of ingredients used in snacks and sweets has multiplied, giving birth to popular snacks well known today like Pocky and Choco Pie. In fact, Japanese confectionery companies will often use local ingredients to create regional flavors, or release limited-edition seasonal flavors. Regardless of region or season, there’s always something delicious available at the local supermarket or convenience store next door.

glico factory tour tokyo

Although all of these fun flavors might not be available overseas, a number of Japanese snacks and sweets can be found at supermarkets abroad. But have you ever wondered how your favorite treat was invented or how it was made? Taking a tour of a sweets factory during your trip to Japan is a great way to learn more about your favorites or something new.

Join the Lotte Sweets School factory tour

Lotte, one of the biggest producers of chocolate in Japan, has an interactive factory tour in Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture , known as Lotte Okashi Gakko, or “Lotte Sweets School.” The factory tour offers two courses – one that teaches visitors about the production of Ghana chocolate, and another on “pie no mi,” one of their famous products. You’ll find out which tour you’ll be participating in on the day, so you never know what to expect, adding to the fun!

glico factory tour tokyo

On their 90-minute tour, visitors are given a textbook with a quiz, and can search for the answers on the factory tour. Visitors can also observe the production process and witness sweets prepared and packaged for shipping. What’s more – the entire factory smells like chocolate, making this a wonderful experience for chocolate-lovers!

Due to its popularity, reservations fill very quickly, so if you’re planning to visit the Lotte Okashi Gakko, make sure to plan well in advance and make a reservation through their official website. Do note, though, that reservations and tours are currently only available in Japanese.

glico factory tour tokyo

Step into wonderland at Glico Pia East’s Pocky and Pretz factory tour

You may know Glico from the famous “running man” sign in Osaka. In Saitama Prefecture’s city of Kitamoto, Glico Pia East is part-factory, part-museum that gives visitors a view to the production process of world-famous Pocky (sold as Mikado in Europe) and Pretz. Since its launch in 1966, Pocky is Glico’s longest-selling product, and was recognized in 2020 by the Guinness World Records as the best-selling chocolate-covered biscuit brand. 

glico factory tour tokyo

At the Glico Pia East Factory, travelers can embark on a 70-minute free tour. The tour includes a short video illustrating the history of Pocky and Pretz, a tour of the museum and production lines, and an interactive quiz. On weekends, visitors also have the opportunity to decorate their own giant Pocky for an additional cost at the end of the tour.

glico factory tour tokyo

Currently, reservations and tours are only available in Japanese, and to make a reservation you must create an account before booking. 

Discover sweet and savory Unagipie on Shunkado’s Unagipie Factory Tour

Confectionery maker Shunkado’s “Unagipie,” which literally translates to “eel pie,” is a famous treat sold around Shizuoka’s Hamamatsu area and is popular amongst foreign and local visitors alike. Inspired by the French “palmier” pastry, with layers of delicious butter pastry and crispy, caramelized sugar, alongside a subtle touch of eel extract, garlic and other flavorings, this sweet, savory treat is addicting.

glico factory tour tokyo

Located in Hamamatsu city in Shizuoka prefecture , visitors will learn everything about the wonderful world of Unagipie on this tour. There is also a factory-direct shop on the first floor that sells a variety of Unagipie pastries, and even an Unagipie Café where visitors can enjoy different desserts featuring Unagipie.

glico factory tour tokyo

At the Unagipie factory, there are three tours available: a self-guided tour, a free guided tour, or a special tour that ends with the opportunity to enjoy a freshly baked Unagipie. For the guided tour and special tour, please make sure to make a reserve in advanced! Reservations for the guided tour can be made over the phone, but reservations for the special tour can be made online through the Unagipie Factory’s official website. 

Planning your delicious Japanese snacks and sweets journey

While you might be ready to jump in and re-enact “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” the second you land in Japan, it’s essential to plan your snack adventure in advance. Since these tours are highly sought after and tend to fill up quickly, prior reservations are a must. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that online reservations and tours are conducted in Japanese. While this may seem intimidating, consider using translation applications on your phone or bringing along a friend who speaks the language. Additionally, it might be possible to inquire about English-speaking tours or additional support for non-Japanese speakers, so make sure to keep your options open!

About the author

gaby_doman

Author: Melanie Sweeney Profile: Born and raised in the United States, Melanie moved to Japan in 2014 and has stayed ever since. You can often find her exploring the city, enjoying afternoon tea with friends or investigating the latest cultural event nearby.

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Saitama Tourism Support Desk

Glicopia East

Fantastic fatory tour

glico factory tour tokyo

This is a unique factory tour facility where you can see, learn, and study the world of confectionery while having fun. Visitors can enjoy learning about chocolate, take a quiz tour, visit the museum zone where 1,500 "toys" are on display, and even make their own original confections (for a fee).

Recommended point

Pocky Street (Factory Tour) Visitors can observe the manufacturing process of Pocky, from finishing to packaging. After the tour, you will feel more familiar with Pocky.

Recommended point

Pritz Street (Factory Tour) Visitors can observe the manufacturing process of the pretzel. The production line, from mixing the ingredients to finishing and packaging, stretches 100 meters. After the tour, you will feel even more familiar with the brand.

Recommended point

After the tour, you can experience decorating "Giant Pocky". You can add a message to the Pocky for your loved one and give it as a present to celebrate your anniversary or to your loved one. (Time required : 30 to 40 minutes). - Separate participation fee is required. (500 yen per person).

9-55 Nakamaru, Kitamoto-shi, Saitama (Glicopy East) Japan

Access Information

・10 minutes drive from Okegawa Kano IC on the Ken-O Expressway (Metropolitan Inter-City Expressway) ・Please take a cab or bus from JR Kitamoto Station.

Phone number

048-593-8811

Official URL

https://www.glico.com/global/

Business hours

Hours: 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM (Entrance open 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM)

Regular holidays and closed days

Obon Holidays / New Year's Holidays / Plant Maintenance Days / Fridays *Please check the reservation calendar as some Fridays are open.

Free of charge (by appointment only)

Parking Information

Free Parking

Tourist route including this experience

The Railway Museum and Glicopia East Confectionary Theme Park

The Railway Museum and Glicopia East Confectionary Theme Park

Enrich your holiday with a blend of fun and education! Begin with a visit to The Railway Museum, one of the largest of its kind in Japan, where you can dive into the fascinating history and structure of Japanese trains and railways. Then, tour the confectionery factory where the beloved Japanese snack Pocky is made. Watch the production process, try your hand at decorating (fee and reservation required), and indulge in sweets loved by all ages. This itinerary promises enjoyment for both families and friends alike.

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Tour of the Pocky and Pretz Factory: Glico Pia East

glico factory tour tokyo

 I am Chankoba , and I will be teaching you about the sightseeing in Saitama.

There are many factory tours available in Saitama. Today we will be  touring  the Glico Pia East factory,

where the internationally popular Pocky and Pretz are made.

Go through the entrance and head to the information desk.

Now let’s start the factory tour!

This tour is about the 50 year history of Glico, including the vending machines and previous snacks made by Glico.

glico factory tour tokyo

 Next is the manufacturing process of the popular snack, Pocky.

In one day about 55,000 boxes of Pocky are made in the factory, so the tour will take about 1 hour.

※Taking pictures during the tour is prohibited, so please be careful.

Next is the tour of the manufacturing process of Pretz.

After the factory tour ends, freshly made Pretz is given out!

glico factory tour tokyo

For only 500 yen you can personally decorate a giant Pocky, no reservations needed.

Use the white chocolate as glue to decorate the Pocky.

There are also snacks that you can only buy at the shop in the factory.

glico factory tour tokyo

glico factory tour tokyo

Factory access

【1】Tokyo ~ The nearest station

Take the Takasaki Line from Tokyo Station or Ueno Station to Kitamoto Station.

Go out the East Exit and go down the stairs on the left side.

【2】The nearest station ~ Factory

Get on the green Ken-chan Bus.

The timetable on the top is for the morning buses, while the bottom timetable is for the afternoon buses.

In the bus is a button like in the picture, please press this when you want to get off.

Put the fare money and numbered ticket in the box with fare written on it. (Adults: 200 yen, Children: 100 yen)

It takes about 10 minutes to get to the Glico Factory Bus Stop.

Tell the taxi driver to take you to Glico Pia East.

The fare should be no more than 1,500 yen.

【3】Factory ~ The nearest station

It will take about 10 minutes to get to Kitamoto Station. (Adults: 200 yen, Children: 100 yen)

The boarding places for buses differ during the morning and afternoon, so please be careful.

The morning route is marked by yellow while the afternoon route is marked with red.

The people at the factory ticket counter can call a taxi for you. Tell the taxi driver to take you to Kitamoto Station.

The fare should be no more than 2,000 yen.

glico factory tour tokyo

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Glico’s iconic running man

Glicopia Chiba

Beat the heat with Glico’s ice cream factory tour

Elizabeth S

Tokyo’s summers are sultry and exhausting, with temperatures rising to 35 degrees Celsius and over 80% humidity. A great way to beat the heat is ice cream. You might even have the urge to climb in a freezer on the hottest afternoon. In Noda City, just outside Tokyo proper, you can do just that at Glicopia Chiba, one of Glico’s factory experiences open to the public.

Even if you don’t immediately recognize the Glico brand name, you likely know the running man logo, a famous landmark lighted sign in Osaka’s Dotonbori district. Glico, which has its headquarters in Osaka, produces sweets, ice cream, Pocky chocolate biscuit sticks, savory snacks such Pretz, and even curry roux. Glico also produces popular Seventeen Ice which is available from vending machines found all over Japan. The factory tour, which runs five times a day, is a 70-minute experience that explains the history and manufacture of Glico products. At Glicopia Chiba, it is all about ice cream.

To get visitors oriented, a video tells the story of Riichi Ezaki. Ezaki, a medicine salesman from Kyushu, created a glycogen-rich caramel that would fuel a runner for 300 meters. The video tells how Ezaki shortened the word glycogen to the catchy name Glico, illustrated the packages with the iconic running man, and launched his product in 1922.

After the presentation, a factory guide leads visitors on a tour where they can view the process of ice cream production, from mixing to aging to packaging. Each step of the way, visitors see the spotless factory equipment, the amazingly fast robotic arms, and the loving care with which employees handle the treats and packaging. On the way through, visitors can remotely control cameras trained on the equipment to observe the details. The clever use of audio, video, special effects, and even aromas help visitors understand the process of ice cream production. For those who would like a break from the heat, the guide ushers visitors through a freezer, and at the end of the tour, provides fresh ice cream treats in various flavors.

Visitors can wrap up their trip to Glicopia Chiba with a bit of shopping and play. The showroom has a huge assortment of ice cream treats, cookies, and logo goods. If on your travels in Japan you missed a regional or seasonal version of Pocky not widely available, you are likely to find it here. Next to the showroom, have a look at the retrospective of toys and trinkets that have been packed with Glico treats for nearly 100 years. Next to the showroom is a kitchen where visitors can make handmade ice cream.

The tour is conducted only in Japanese, but English-speaking visitors can pick up a translated information card at the desk. Reservations are required for the tour, which is free.

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By Elizabeth S

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Glico’s iconic running man

Information

10 Basho, Noda City, Chiba Prefecture ( Directions )

04-7127-3355

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Pocky Factory

Behold, the Japanese equivalent of Charlie's chocolate works: the Pocky factory.

So you fancy yourself a Charlie but…you need a chocolate factory. Make your way to Glico Pia East’s factory in Saitama’s Kitamoto city. This magical factory of hope and wonder supplies Pocky and their savory counterparts, Pretz, to the Kanto region .

At the entrance you will be greeted by lots of beautiful ladies wearing Pocky-colored clothes. These will be your charismatic tour guides! Perfect.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) there aren’t any Oompa Loompas but there is a rather cute CGI mascot who’ll give you a quick virtual history lesson about the dude who started it all: Riichi Ezaki.

Pocky Cover Star: the Glico Man

Want to know why everyone flocks to the flashy “Running Man” billboards in Osaka? He was on the original Pocky boxes, so yeah, he’s kind of a big deal. The cute CGI mascot also shows up on the exclusive range of stationery that they sell in the gift shop. Charlie and the Pocky factory is shaping up to be pretty damn great.

Let’s get down to business to explore the factory floor. As soon as you step out of the elevator, the smell of creamy-sweet Pocky or Italian-seasoned Pretz hits you like a bulldozer. This is it, your dreams are about to come true. Your tour guide will lead you through the basics of how their Pocky is made (think very elaborate robots and scorching hot ovens) but how does the chocolate actually get on the stick?! That, they say, is still a mystery…

You thought you’d seen it all but now it’s time for the QUIZ ROOM. Fitted out with top-of-the-range quiz equipment (fancy buzzers, huge cinematic screens), you can test your knowledge of all things Pocky, Pretz and Glico in this trippy room of wonder. Ever wanted to see a room of fully grown adults get seriously competitive over who presses the red button first? Well, your wishes are about to come true.

Don’t forget to visit the gift shop at the end of your tour to pick up some exclusive flavours and huge selection packs of your favourite snacks. Best. Day. Ever.

Things To Know

Opening hours.

The factory is open every day except for Fridays. There are four possible tour times: 9.30, 11.00, 12.30 and 14.00. Please be aware that your tour will be in Japanese.

You can book yourself a tour by phoning 048-593-8811. Alternatively, you can book tours via their website: https://www.glico.com/jp/enjoy/experience/glicopiaeast

How To Get There

Japan, 〒364-0013 Saitama-ken, Kitamoto-shi, Nakamaru, 9 Chome−55, グリコピア・イースト

Take the JR Takasaki line to Kitamoto Station and take the bus bound for Glico Pia East from the station’s East Exit. The bus journey takes about 12 minutes.

Just 2 kilometres from the Okegawa-Kano exit of the Ken-O expressway, Glico Pia East is also easily accessible for those travelling from other areas of Kanto.

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Glico Museum

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グリコピア・イースト

Time Out says

Any fan of Japanese candy should know the tastes of Glico (Pocky, Pretz etc). But how much do you know about their origin and production? If you're interested in that kind of thing, Glico Group has opened a museum that lets customers take tours to observe the manufacturing process of Pocky and Pretz, and even take a bash at making your own original candy (tours are free but you'll have to pay a small fee to make the candy).

The tour includes 70 minutes of adventure during which you can look around the factory, enjoy a video clip showing how the chocolate is made, and browse booths that teach you interesting facts about the history of Glico. The museum is just a 45-minute train ride from Shinjuku Station and you can make reservations via the website  or by phone.

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10 Interesting Factory Tours in Kanto Area

glico factory tour tokyo

Did you know there are fun and exciting factory tours you can learn, see, and even experience on hand, how 'Made in Japan' goods and services are produced? Here are our 10 picks of best factory tours in Kanto area.

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy through them, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

1.CUPNOODLES Museum (カップヌードルミュージアム)

There are exhibitions of line-ups and various packages of Cup Noodle, recreation of the work shed this world famous instant food was invented, and presentation of the life story of Momofuku Ando, the father of the product.  The highlight of this museum is My CUPNOODLES Factory, where you can create your own one and only Cup Noodle (reservation required with extra charge).  Why not take home your own creation together with fun memories of the trip? Admission fee: 500 yen for adults, free for students up to high school.      

2-3-4 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa

2. Asahi Breweries Kanagawa Brewery (アサヒビール神奈川工場) *Closed

This tour is definitely the one for  Japanese beer lovers who want to explore more about their favourite beverage. A guided tour within the manufacturing site is available, with free beer tasting up to 3 glasses at the end of the tour. (What a treat!) The brewery is located in a tranquil greenery setting, an ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of urban city.  Free admission.

1223 Nuda, Minami Ashigara-shi, Kanagawa

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3. Ishikawa Brewery Co., Ltd. (石川酒造)

If you want to see how traditional Japanese sake is produced, may we introduce you to this tour. You can see the conventional distillery for free of charge. There is a restaurant on site where you can dine soba and other Japanese dishes before or after the tour. Free Admission. Reservation required. Guided tour in English/French is available on request.

1 Kumagawa, Fussa-shi, Tokyo

4. JAL Maintenance Factory ( JAL工場見学)

Introduction of what the aviation company does and its presentation materials, wearing uniforms and taking pictures, audio lectures and visual displays, tour inside the actual hangar are the highlights of this factory visit. Even you are not a planespotter you will enjoy for sure. Free admission. Reservation required.   

JAL M1 Bldg., 3-5-1 Haneda Airport, Ota-ku, Tokyo

5. The Japan Mint (造幣局)

Come and see how coins of Japanese Yen are produced. You can watch the video on how the Mint operates in four languages (Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean), learn how coins are produced and see the actual production line. Free admission. Reservation required.

4-42-1 Higashi Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo

6. Kikkoman Monoshiri Shoyu-kan (キッコーマンもの知りしょうゆ館)

Shoyu, or soy sauce as known globally, has become a popular condiment worldwide. You can learn how it is manufactured by viewing audio lecture as well as visiting the actual factory site. There is a cafe where you can taste and smell the aroma of freshly made soy sauce. Free admission. Reservation required. The tour is from 2 people or more. 

Kikkoman Corporation Noda Factory, 110 Noda, Noda-shi, Chiba 

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7. Glicopia East (グリコピア・イースト)

Pretz and Pocky are some of the internationally acclaimed confectioneries by Glico.  Here you can see the displays and their production lines. There is an interactive space where you can decorate your own Giant Pocky. Free admission. Reservation required. Extra charge required with up to 20 people per session for Giant Pocky decoration.

9-55 Nakamaru, Kitamoto-shi, Saitama

8. Bureau of Sewerage, Tokyo Metropolitan Government  Shibaura Water Reclamation Center (東京都下水道局 芝浦水再生センター)

Water supplies system in Japan is one of the reliable public utilities the nation is proud of. Here you will learn how the sewerage system contributes to the society as a whole and see how it operates. There are several water reclamation centers in Tokyo but this one in Shibaura which was build in 1931 is in a perfect location to stop by as part of the sightseeing tour in the capital. Free admission. Reservation required.    

1-2-28 Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo

9. Morinaga Seika Tsurumi Factory (森永製菓 鶴見工場)

Morinaga is a big Japanese confectionery brand as popular as Glico. You can watch the process of packaging the confectioneries during the guided tour. There are also tasting sessions of chocolates fresh from the production line.  There is an area dedicated to Kyoro-chan, the icon character for one of its chocolate brands where you can enjoy viewing rare goods and toys. Free admission. Reservation required. 

2-1−1 Shimosueyoshi, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa

10. Night view of Kawasaki Factory Zone (川崎工業地帯の夜景)

5554961034_34e29b2a2a_z

The industrial factory in Kawasaki is one of the largest of the kind in Kanto area. You cannot actually enter the factory premises but this tour is gaining more and more attention as of late. There are even bus tours catering for this evening sightseeing. The view of massive factory buildings lit at night is absolutely stunning. If you are into photography or simply looking for something unusual, this one is for you.

Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa

Kanto Feature

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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Top 20 factory tours in Japan

There’s nothing worse that getting stuck on a guided tour going through room upon room of humdrum displays while a sleepy-eyed guide rambles on about nothing important. To save us all from making the mistake of going on a boring tour, Trip Advisor Japan compiled a list of the best factory tours in the country. Results are ranked according to the most talked about museums and factories on their website. As you might expect, over half of the best tours involve alcohol.

1. Instant Ramen Museum (Osaka)

Visitors can not only view the history of instant ramen, but also try their hand at making Chicken Ramen from scratch in a 90-minute workshop that costs only 500 yen. Visitors can also choose to make their own Cup Noodles for 300 yen. English audio guides are available for videos shown in the Research Shack and Cup Noodle Drama Theatre.

2. Nuchi-masu Salt Factory (Uruma City, Okinawa)

Nuchi-masu is a salt made in Okinawa that is so rich in minerals, it was in the Guinness World Records in 2000. Nuchi-masu is made entirely of Okinawan seawater taken from the Pacific Ocean and visitors of the salt factory can view and experience the making of this natural seasoning.

3. Nikka Whiskey Distillery (Yoichi City, Hokkaido)

Self-guided tours and guided-tours in Japanese are conducted daily. The best part is that visitors can taste three different types of whiskey for free.

4. Orion Beer Factory (Nago City, Okinawa)

Lesser known Orion beer can be sampled during your visit to Okinawa at the Orion Beer Factory.

5. Kawasaki Good Times World (Kobe City, Hyogo)

With a name like that, it’s got to be a good tour. Visitors to Kawasaki Good Times World are treated to a showcase of technology made by the Kawasaki Heavy Industries Group including ships, rolling stock, aircraft, and motorcycles.

6. Suntory Musashino Factory (Fuchu City, Tokyo)

Enjoy free samples of beer here…and tours and other stuff, but mostly free samples.

7. Suntory Yamazaki Distillery (Shimamoto Town, Osaka)

Enjoy free Yamazaki Whiskey here.

8. Chateraise (Hokuto City, Yamanashi)

Chateraise is a natural sweets and gifts company in Yamanashi Prefecture. Enjoy a tour of the ice cream making facilities as well as sweet samples.

9. Toyota Technology Museum (Nagoya City, Aichi)

The Toyota Technology Museum boasts over 4,000 exhibition pieces in their Nagoya-based building.

10. Suntory Kyoto Beer Factory (Nagaokakyo City, Kyoto)

Enjoy those free samples.

11. Asahi Beer Factory (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka)

This isn’t even the last alcohol-based tour on our list…

12. Suntory Tomi No Oka Winery (Kai City, Yamanashi)

For wine lovers.

13. Kirin Yokohama Beer Village (Yokohama City, Kanagawa)

Keep scrolling for more beer tour options.

14. Unagi Pie Factory (Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka)

Unagi Pies are a famous Hamamatsu City confectionery. After touring the factory, visitors are invited to try original ice cream creations using Unagi Pies.

15. Sapporo Beer Museum (Sapporo City, Hokkaido)

16. Suntory Hakushu Distillery (Hakuto City, Yamanashi)

17. Tokachi Winery (Tokachi City, Hokkaido)

18. Shiroi Koibito Park (Sapporo City, Hokkaido)

Enjoy sampling Hokkaido’s famous treat at the Shiroi Koibito Park.

19. Royce Chocolate World (Chitose City, Hokkaido)

Royce Chocolate World is in the New Chitose Airport. It is the first chocolate factory and museum located in an airport. 20. Cup Noodle Museum (Yokohama City, Kanagawa)

View 3,000 different packages of ramen and enjoy making your own at the Cup Noodle Museum.

There you have it, the top 20 factory tours in Japan starting and ending with ramen. Of the 20 factories listed, 11 are related to alcohol and five are located in Hokkaido. Suntory seems to hold great tours if the company’s five spots in the top 20 are any indication. But the lesson to take away from this list is that no matter where you go in Japan you’ll be able to find a factory tour giving out free alcohol. Happy drinking!

Source: NariNari

Read more stories form RocketNews24. -- Instant Ramen #1 on Favorite Japanese Factory Tours, Field Trips -- Free Admission – Twelve of Tokyo’s Best Kept Secrets -- Top 20 Japanese Travel Destinations For Foreign Visitors

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6 Comments Login to comment

glico factory tour tokyo

Harry_Gatto June 6, 2013 08:42 am JST

Suntory and Nikka make whisky, not whiskey.

glico factory tour tokyo

nicolls June 6, 2013 10:00 am JST

it's all food.

glico factory tour tokyo

JetSpeed June 6, 2013 11:05 am JST

Bunch of damn drunks.

glico factory tour tokyo

davestrousers June 6, 2013 11:37 am JST

Asahi Beer Factory (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka)

There are 8 Asahi Beer factories offering tours dotted around Japan. Any particular reason this one makes the top 20?

glico factory tour tokyo

nath June 11, 2013 02:39 pm JST

@ dave because Kyushu was ill represented in this list.

glico factory tour tokyo

Matt McCormick Oct. 1, 2013 06:50 am JST

The Sapporo beer museum doesn't do tours anymore. I was there two months ago and was disappointed going there. Basically it's just a room where you can see a couple vats and read about the history (only in Japanese)

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free things to do in tokyo shibuya

14 Totally Free Things to Do in Tokyo

Tokyo is easily one of the most expensive cities in the world, it’s also one of the busiest and the most densely populated. However, it’s hard to visit Japan without spending at least a little time in the capital and there is a lot to do here.  There’s also a lot to do in Tokyo that can cost a lot of money, heck even staying here can cost a small fortune.  But, that shouldn’t stop you from visiting.  There are many things to do in Tokyo that don’t cost a single Japanese Yen.  The oldest temple in the city is free to visit, and the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing can be checked out for free too.  Here’s our guide to the top 14 free things to do in Tokyo.

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Many of these free activities in Tokyo can be found quite close to each other, which means that you get to them on foot and on the same day (so you’ll save on accommodation).  Some of the free Tokyo things to do are, however, quite a distance away, so I’ve created a map of these free things to do in Tokyo, so you can identify which ones you might want to head to.  Tokyo metro tickets are affordable, the schedule is reliable and the trains are always on time – perfect if you don’t have much time in Tokyo.  Ready to explore Tokyo for free?

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The 14 Top Free Things to Do in Tokyo

Whether you’re looking to see ancient temples, learn about Japanese culture, or wander through Japanese markets, there are many things you can do in Tokyo without spending a yen.  We’ve whittled it down to the top 14 free Tokyo activities and attractions.  And, fortunately, Japanese public transport makes getting from one place to another very accessible. You don’t need to take a taxi or rent a vehicle to visit these attractions in Tokyo.

1.      Walk across Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing might seem like a regular pedestrian crossing. But what makes it unique is the fact that it is the busiest pedestrian walkway in the world. Shibuya sees around 3,000 people crossing at the same time. Shibuya has been a popular tourist attraction in itself for quite some time and it’s well worth a visit to experience the chaos for yourself. The best time to come to Shibuya is between 4 PM and 7 PM on a weekday.  These are the peak hours.   The easiest way to get here is to take the metro and get off at Shibuya Station.  If you don’t want to get involved in the scrum that is getting across the road, and just want to observe, then the most famous viewing spot is the Starbucks coffee shop within the Shibuya Tsutaya video rental store.  You will have to order yourself a drink though.

To find another spot to observe the Shibuya crossing without being involved in the action, you can head to the Shibuya Mark City Walkway – this is the walkway between the Keio Inokashira Line exit and the JR Yamanote Line Tamagawa exit. 

View of Shibuya from Shibuya Mark City Walkway

While it’s not as high a viewpoint, the walls here are glass so you can see easily.  It is a busy thoroughfare though, so make sure you stay out of the way of commuters!

  • Address Shibuya Crossing: 1 Chome-23-10 Jinnan, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0041, Japan

2.  Explore Sensoji Temple for free in Tokyo

Sensoji Temple is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, it’s also one of the most significant in the city.  The temple is located in Asakusa and was built in 645 to honor the goddess of mercy, Kannon.

This nearly 1,400-year-old temple contains a whole lot of history and is still a working temple, it’s not just a tourist attraction.  You’ll enter through the “Thunder Gate”, the symbol of Asakusa and Tokyo, and then head down a shopping street called Nakamise.  After entering a second gate, you’ll see the main hall of the temple and a five-storied pagoda.  The originals were destroyed during World War II and these are relatively recent.

Sensoji Temple Tokyo

The best time to visit Sensoji Temple is in the morning, between 8 am and 10 am, when it’s not too busy. But please observe the requirement for silence as there will be people praying in the temple.

If you’re taking the metro to get to Sensoji Temple, then the nearest station is Asakusa. 

  • Address of Sensoji Temple: 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
  • Opening Hours of Sensoji Temple: always open

3.  See a Sumo Practice for free in Tokyo

Sumo wrestling has a significant role in Japanese culture and attending a sumo tournament is a sight to behold, but here in Tokyo they only happen in January, May, and September and tickets are both extremely popular and particularly expensive. 

If you’re not traveling to Tokyo during those months, or don’t have the budget and want to see some Sumo, then another option if you want to explore the world of sumo is to head along to see sumo practice. This involves going into the sumo stable and observing (in silence) the wrestlers going about their training. 

I wrote about our fabulous experience of seeing Sumo Practice in Tokyo here.

Tickets for this are also very popular and are extremely limited – but you can check availability on GetYourGuide here , on Viator here – and on Klook here > it’s worth checking all three companies as they visit different sumo stables.

Sumo practice

However.  You don’t need to spend anything to catch a glimpse of sumo practice.

While it doesn’t happen every day, when it does, you can go to the Arashio-bey Sumo Stable. The place is small, and you can’t go inside, but the windows are wide, and it is a recognized thing to stand outside to watch.

The Arashio-bey Sumo stable now have an online calendar on their webpage that shows if a practice is taking place or if they are away training or at a Sumo tournament. You can see the up to date calendar here. You no longer have to call them to check whether Sumo practice is taking place as the website has the up to date information.

The sumo wrestlers of the Arashio-bey stable are also very friendly and willing to take photos when they step outside.

You can take the Sobu Metro Line and Bakurocho Station as your stop. You can walk from there or change to Shinjuku Line, and get off at Hamacho Station. If you can spare the time, you should also walk to the Sumo Museum, which is about 20 minute’s walk from the sumo stable. If there’s no major tournament happening (check here ), then it’s free admission to the museum.  During major tournaments, then the museum is only open to people who have tickets to the sumo tournaments.

  • Address of the Arashio-bey Sumo Stable: 2 Chome-47-2 Nihonbashihamacho, Chuo City, Tokyo 103-0007, Japan
  • Opening Hours of the Arashio-bey Sumo Stable: 7:30 AM to 10 AM

4.  Explore the Tokyo Imperial Palace and Gardens for Free.

The Imperial Palace in Tokyo was built in 1993 and has beautiful grounds and gardens. It was constructed as the residence of the Imperial Family when they are in Tokyo. Although many areas of the grounds are open to the public, some interior sections are private and some can only be accessed with a tour (however, the tours of the Tokyo Imperial Palace are free and can be booked here ).  You’ll need to take your official ID along.  Tours generally happen twice a day.

Tokyo Imperial Palace Gardens

If you’re not lucky enough to score a ticket for the Imperial Palace tours, then you can also walk around the gardens, then they are free to access, but only at certain hours (see below).  The gardens are delightfully maintained and a pleasant walk at the right time of the day.

Both Kojimachi Station and Tokyo Station are within walking distance from the Palace. The best time to visit the Tokyo Imperial Palace Gardens is around 9 am when there are fewer crowds.

  • Address of the Tokyo Imperial Palace: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-8111, Japan
  • Opening Hours of the  Gardens of the Tokyo Imperial Palace: 9 am to 11:15 am, then again from 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays, it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays

Although its not free (there’s a 100 Yen fee to enter), the glorious Kyu Asakura House and Garden is an oasis of calm and peace within Shibuya, my guide to visiting is here.

The best way to travel around Japan is by train – and you can save a fortune on train travel in Japan by buying the JR Pass BEFORE you get to Japan. You can buy the JR Pass from a number of outlets. We recommend: Get your JR Pass from KLOOK here. – estimate 2 weeks for delivery of the exchange order Buy a JR Pass from JRAILPASS here – get it Fedexed within 24-48 hours to any location including a Fedex office or your hotel in Japan.

5.  Go to the Tokyo Tuna Auction at Toyosu Market

Fish is a staple food in Japan, and tuna is both one of the most popular and the most expensive in the country. Record breaking tuna prices are reported on widely throughout the country and the tuna auctions in Tokyo are something special.  We were lucky enough to go to the tuna auction when it was held at the old Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo and while the tuna actions continue they have now moved to Toyosu market.

Tickets are again limited and you must apply in advance (previously at Tsukiji you simply had to turn up at around 02:30! and hope there was space)  Of course, you’ll still have to get up early, but an advance application is necessary for tickets.  The auctions are fast, seriously interesting, and extremely passionate.  Our video of the Tsukiji auction will give you an idea of what happens here.

You can apply for a ticket (they’re free) for the tuna auction lottery at Toyosu here .  Tickets open in the first week of the month for the following month.  So get clicking!

The old market at Tsukiji closed its doors to the auctions finally in 2018. An aging air conditioning system and a market that just wasn’t big enough for sellers and everyone who wanted to visit meant that the auctions moved to Toyosu.  You can however still head to Tsukiji.  The old “outer market” still has hundreds of places to eat, shop and explore.  And a breakfast of sushi is still a fabulous thing to do here.

Whether you’re in the market for an auction, want to buy some seafood or fish, or just plain want to see how passionate Japanese are about tuna, a visit to Toyosu Market (and/or Tsukiji) is a must in Tokyo.

Shijō-mae Station is right in front of the market if you’re taking the metro. HOWEVER, If you get lucky enough to get tickets for the auction you’ll need either a taxi or a hotel within walking distance, as the metro isn’t running at the time you need to get to the auction.

Tokyo Stay Monzen Nakacho is a great hotel option within a short walk of Toyosu Market.

  • Address of Toyosu Market: 6 Chome-6-1 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0061, Japan
  • Opening Hours of the Market: 5 am to 3 pm from Thursdays to Tuesdays, closed on Wednesdays

6. Take a Free Traditional Boat Ride on the Yokojikkengawa Canal

Riding the canals of Tokyo is a very traditional Japanese activity.  It was in the Koto ward of the city that the Wasen Tomo no Kai group formed to preserve the culture of wooden boats here.  These volunteers host boat rides for free.  The rides are in a traditional Wasen wooden boat which can take 7 people.  You’ll need to sign up in advance, and wear lifevests and your trip will take about 10 minutes along the quiet Yokojikkengawa Canal.  The schedule varies and is subject to weather cancellations, but check the latest schedule here .

The site is only in Japanese, but just hit up Google translate and all will be well.

  • Address of the Yokojikkengawa Canal: 4 Chome-10 Kinshi, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0013, Japan
  • Opening Hours of the Yokojikkengawa Canal: varies

7.  Join a free tour of the Suntory Brewery in Tokyo

We love free tours in Japan.  And free factory tours are even better.  The Asahi brand has a series of free tours , there’s a beer tour in Sapporo that we recommend and there’s also a free brewery tour in Tokyo that you can sign up for.

Suntory is a premium Japanese brand and they too provide free tours of their breweries.

At this free Tokyo brewery tour, you’ll learn about Japanese-style brewing when it comes to rice wine and beer. The tour is in Japanese though, although you might luck out with a guide who speaks some English, but it will more than make up for itself when you get a free tasting at the end.  That’s right you’ll get 3 free glasses to try once the tour is over, as well as seeing inside the factory.  If you take the Keio Line from Shinjuku and get to Bubaigawara there will be a free shuttle bus to the factory waiting outside the station. 

Factory tours take about 70 minutes and are free.  While the tour runs in Japanese, you can download an app and listen to the commentary in English, Korean, or Chinese (get the details here ). Suntory free brewery tours run at 10:00, 10:45, 11:30, 12:15, 13:00, 13:45, 14:30, and 15:15. 

You’re best to reserve your place – you can do this here .  The site is all in Japanese, but again Google Translate is your friend.

  • Address of the Suntory Brewery: 3 Chome-1 Yazakicho, Fuchu, Tokyo 183-0025, Japan
  • Opening Hours of the Suntory Brewery: 9:30 AM to 5 PM every day

8.  Join a free tour of the Glico Ice cream factory

Glico is the most popular ice cream brand in Japan. It’s easy to say that it’s a significant part of Japanese food culture. Glico launched its ice cream in 1922, and since then it has been everyone’s choice. It’s so popular that the company offers a free tour around their factory where you can learn about their ice cream, how it’s made, and even give you free ice cream to try. The tour is in English but must be booked ahead of time.  You can book the Glico Ice Cream Factory Tour here.

The tour is free of charge, but your place must be pre-booked.  And as I’m writing this, there are no spaces available for the next week – so book early!  The site is only in Japanese, so reach for Google translate again.

This is an ideal place to go, especially if you have children or love ice cream. You can get there by train, but you must make a connection at Kashiwa station and take the Tobu Urban Park Line.  Check the times of trains carefully as it will take around an hour to get here.

  • Address of the Glico Ice Cream Factory: 278-0041 Chiba, Noda, Bansho
  • Opening Hours of the Glico Ice Cream Factory: 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM

9.  Visit the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

Meiji Shrine was built in 1915 and completed in 1926 for Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.  This is a Shinto shrine and is a little oasis in a small forest in the middle of the super busy Shibuya City in Tokyo. The shrine is surrounded by beautiful trees that dampen the city’s noise, making it a great place to escape all the hustle and bustle.

Meiji Shrine

The largest wooden tori in Japan can also be found here. You can board the Chiyoda Line and get off at Yoyogi-Koen Station.

  • Address of the Meiji Shrine: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan
  • Opening Hours of the Meiji Shrine: 5:20 am to 5:20 pm, daily

10.  Get views of Tokyo and Mount Fuji from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observation decks

You can view the majestic Mount Fuji and greater Tokyo without going on an expensive tour. Instead, head to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, aka the Tocho, sitting pretty at 202 meters. Anyone can access one of the observation decks on the 45th floor free of charge. There are both North and South observatories.  When you enter Main Building 1, look for the “Observatory Elevator”. The observatory floor also has a gift and coffee shop.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observation decks view

It’s best to come either early in the morning or up until lunch. The afternoon is often the busiest.  There are queue times listed on the Tokyo city website , but a general rule of thumb is that you can estimate a 30-minute line. Take the Marunouchi Line metro, disembark at Nishi-Shinjuku Station or the green line, and get off at Shinjuku Station.

When you’re here you can scan a QR code and get a commentary in 32 different languages to explain the landscape.

  • Address of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building : 2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 163-8001, Japan
  • Opening Hours of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building : 9:30 Am to 10 PM, from Mondays to Fridays, closed at the weekend

11.  Explore the Suginami Animation Museum

Enjoy free admission to this unique museum showcasing Japanese anime. You can watch a video to understand how the world-famous Japanese anime is made. The displays are interactive, one even allows you to create your own animation. The place is small, you’ll get through it in 30 minutes. However, it’s best to come in the morning or around lunch when there are not too many people. Take the Chuo Line metro and alight at Nishi-Ogikubo Station to get to Suginami Animation Museum.

  • Address of the Suginami Animation Museum: 167-0043 Tokyo, Suginami City, Kamiogi, 3 Chome−29−5
  • Opening Hours of the Suginami Animation Museum: 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays, closed on Mondays

12.  Learn about Origami at the Free Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan

The art of folding paper, origami, has been practiced here in Tokyo for centuries.  We’ve seen it throughout the country, most recently, hundreds of folded paper cranes in Naha, Okinawa, and more of the same back in both Nagasaki and Hiroshima in years gone by.

Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan is the top origami center in Japan.  There are displays with some incredible origami examples and displays on how to do this – as well as instructional books if you want to try it yourself.   You can also, of course, sign up for a workshop and head towards becoming an expert too.  The Kaikan is closed on Sundays and holidays and opens from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

  • Address of the Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan:  1-7-14 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
  • Opening Hours of the Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan:  9:30 am to 4:30 pm

13.  Take a Free Tourist Bus around Tokyo

If you have limited time and budget, the best way to go sightseeing in Tokyo is by taking a free tourist bus. Now you’ll get four for the price of one here because there are a total of 4 different free tourist buses which operate daily. Each bus has a different route and visits numerous sights. If you have the time, each one has a different aspect to see the best of Tokyo. But if you want to see the main area and have limited time in Tokyo, then the Tokyo Bay Shuttle bus is the best free tourist bus to take.

The Tokyo Bay Shuttle explores the Odaiba area. This free Tokyo tour bus has five stops: the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Venus Fort, DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, Hilton Tokyo Odaiba, and Fuji TV. This means that you can get on and off at any of these stops. Just wait at the sign that says “Bay Shuttle”. There’s a bus every 20 minutes, and it operates every day from 11:30 am to 7:30 pm.

The Marunouchi Shuttle tours around Tokyo Station. You can catch it at the Otemachi Tower, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Dai-chi Life, Hibiya, and Shin Kokusai Building. There’s a bus that comes to these stops every 12 to 15 minutes. On weekdays, it starts at 8 am and runs until 8 pm, then for the weekends and holidays, it runs from 10 am to 8 pm.

The Metrolink Nihonbashi is a great way to learn about the Nihonbashi area. This part of Tokyo is known for huge shopping malls and towering skyscrapers. There are five stops where you can board the bus; Nihonbashi Station, Mitsui Memorial Museum, Nihonbashi Muromachi Itchome, Nihonbashi Nichome, and Yaesu Underground Mall. The bus goes every 10 minutes and is in service from 10 am to 8 pm daily.

The Panda Bus is a cutesy bus in which to explore the Asakusa District. This adorable vehicle is perfect if you’re traveling with young children and this is also the free Tokyo bus tour you want to ride if you want to go to Kaminarimon and Sensoji Temple. It also has five stops where you can embark; Kamiarimon, in front of ROX, in front of Tokyo Skytree Station, Tobu Asakusa station, and Nitenmon. It only works on weekends and public holidays, from 10 am to 5 pm (but the Panda Bus takes a break from 1 pm to 2 pm), aside from the breaks there’s a bus every 40 minutes.

14. Take a Tour with a Free Tokyo Guide

This is an amazing service offered by volunteers in Tokyo.  They’ll take you around areas of Tokyo and show you places, tell the history, and explain the cultural aspects of what you’re seeing.  The Tokyo Free Guide service was set up in 2004 and has 570 volunteer guides on their books!

This is unlike free tours that you might have experienced in other countries, where you tip your guide.  Far from it.  Your guide here – like in the rest of Japan – will NOT accept a tip.  It’s just not the cultural norm.

The guides admit that their English might not be perfect, but their desire to show you their city, and Japan is very deep.  They all undergo training and there’s also a test of their capabilities.  This might be a volunteer organization, but it is very, very professional

You will need to request a free Tokyo guide well in advance and you can do that via their website here.

Travel Tips for Exploring Japan

  • Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
  • Get online immediately with an eSIM for Japan
  • Take the right POWER ADAPTER to Japan
  • Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Japan > discount coupon here
  • Read our guide to the Japan Rail Pass here
  • You can buy JR Passes from Klook > check details here
  • Or buy JR Passes from JRailPass here with delivery in 24-48 hours (including to your hotel in Japan)
  • Want to know what its like at a Maid Cafe ?
  • Read about experiencing Sumo Practice in Japan
  • Read about staying in a Ryokan town in Japan
  • Learn to cook Japanese food in Chef’s kitchens in Japan
  • Read about ATM fees in Japan here.
  • Save money in Japan with a Wise debit card
  • Find the right accommodation for you via Booking.com
  • Book an incredible ryokan experience in Japan

Final Words on the 14 Top Free Things to Do in Tokyo

Tokyo might be expensive, but it shouldn’t stop you from exploring it.  Finding cheaper and free things to do in Tokyo certainly helps to spread the budget out, and they tend to be great fun too.  Most of the tours that operate as free require advanced booking, so be sure to reserve in advance as much as possible and also map out your route before leaving your accommodation, this is a big city and it can take a while to navigate your way around!

Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.

We receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using our affiliate links. We do not represent World Nomads. This is not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.

ASocialNomad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, and amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases .

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Pocky through the years

Visiting the Glico Pia East Factory

Make your own pocky on one of saitama's best tours.

The Glico Pia East Factory tour was on my wish list since it opened its doors in Kitamoto City in 2012. However, at the time I was advised to wait until my kids were older to go. In 2015, I just couldn’t wait any longer so I booked it for the whole family. At the time my children were five, four, two and a baby! Much to my delight, everyone, myself included, enjoyed the tour much more than we thought we would. In fact we loved it so much we have been several times since!

Glico is the name of a large manufacturing company headquartered in Osaka, Japan. One of Osaka's most iconic billboards is of the "running man" logo of the company. Glico makes many things including baby formula and ice cream , but this factory tour is of their most famous and beloved confectionary products: Pocky and Pretz. Pocky and Pretz are both stick shaped snacks, but Pocky are dipped in chocolate and Pretz are not. So loved they are that there is even a Pocky and Pretz Day on November 11th each year in Japan!

The tour at the factory in Kitamoto City, Saitama, is 70 minutes long. It includes a brief video, the museum 'zone', a tour of the Pocky and Pretz production lines and an interactive quiz game in a futuristic gaming room. In fact, the whole tour building has a futuristic feel. At the start of the tour they offer you a chance to sign up for a workshop at the end of the tour where you can decorate your own giant Pocky. It costs 500 yen per person if you choose to participate in the workshop. Whether you participate in the workshop or not, everyone gets to take home a free bag of goodies. Each time the contents have been a little different, but there is always a free box of Pocky and Pretz in the goodie bag. At the factory gate there is a souvenir shop where you can buy even more Glico goodies including rare flavors and / or giant sized Pocky.

The tour (without the workshop) is free, but it needs to be booked in advance. However, the tour is temporarily closed to the general public due to the pandemic. On the day the tour is conducted in Japanese. The first few times we visited there was no English language support, but on our last visit they had added a basic English language brochure and some English language signage in the factory.

Booking the tour

The tour can be booked through the website. It is all in Japanese, but it is manageable even if you don't read Japanese. Several readers of my personal blog were able to book the tour from overseas without any Japanese language ability. I have included a screenshot of the booking form for when reservations reopen. Once you click on the button circled in yellow it opens a form to choose your date and record your personal details. The tour times are 9.30, 11.00, 12.30, 14.00 six days a week, closed on Fridays.

Getting there

By public transport you can take a 12 minute bus ride bound for Glico Pia East from Kitamoto Station on the JR Takasaki line.

By car, the factory is less than an hour from Tokyo and is very accessible from other prefectures in Kanto too. The factory is just two kilometers from the Okegawa-Kano exit of the Ken-O expressway.

Lynda Hogan

Lynda Hogan @lynda.hogan

Lynda has been in Japan for 20 years and blogging about Saitama on her personal blog insaitama.com for 14 of them.  Despite its central location, just North of Tokyo, Saitama is still quite unknown to the international tourist, but frequented by domestic travelers. It is a great place to experien...

Pocky through the years

Information

glico factory tour tokyo

9-55 Nakamaru, Kitamoto, Saitama Prefecture, 〒364-0013 ( Directions )

048-593-8811

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Best places in the Saitama area, near Tokyo, Japan

Best of free saitama: the meiji chocolate factory tour.

Sakado Meiji Chocolate Factory

Free Meiji Chocolate Factory Tour in Sakado, Saitama Prefecture – commutable from Tokyo. Updated in May 2024 with an important update on the booking system. From May 16th you can only book up to 30 days in advance (not 2 months in advance as it was before).

Meiji Naru Hodo Factory Sakado Meiji Chocolate factory tour

Meiji have seven factories with a free guided tour in the whole of Japan. We are lucky here in Saitama, that not only do we have one, but we have one of the chocolate and snack ones! And it is the closest one to Tokyo. There is a factory in Ibaraki also, which is commutable from Tokyo too, but it is one of the dairy factories and they don’t have snacks or chocolate. In Saitama the tour is mainly of their core product Meiji Chocolate bar production line, more information below.

Meiji Apollo line tour at the Meiji Chocolate factory. Added in 2020.

🍫About Meiji

Love Meiji Chocolate

Meiji Chocolate is to the Japanese what Cadbury’s is to the Irish (English, Welsh and Scottish!). It is personally my favourite chocolate in Japan and my second favourite overall. (Second to Lindt). As we learned on the tour, Meiji has a hundred year history in Japan. It started out as two partner companies: one for the snack industry and one for the confectionary industry. The latter was actually first and originally called Tokyo Confectionary Company. After 8 years of business, in 1924, the name was changed to Meiji Seika.

Meiji Oishi milk at chocolate factory tour Sakado Saitama

Meiji Seika was the name for anything to do with their confectionary, their baby products AND their pharmaceutical products. Meiji Dairy managed all dairy products (except for chocolate!) such as milk and yoghurt. They only officially amalgamated the two companies as recently as 2009 under the already well established colloquial name of “Meiji” or officially “Meiji Holdings”.

Meiji Chocolate bar timeline

If you are interested in the history of the company they have a complete timeline in English on their official global website:

https://www.meiji.com/global/about-us/history

Carl Ojisan at Meiji Chocolate Factory tour

If you live in Japan, you are no doubt familiar with at least a handful of Meiji products. Even if you’ve just visited I guarantee that you have seen one of their products before. However, despite living here 18 years, I was quite surprised to discover that some of the products I buy are Meiji. Without me ever having realized it! For example their probio yogurt R-1 **.

🍫About Sakado’s Plant Tour

The tour is open to people  over the age of four years old.  Wheelchair users and people with allergies are requested to inform staff at the time of booking so they can accommodate you . The tour needs to be booked in advance  either by phone, fax or through an online form. If you have a group of ten people or more you can’t book online, you will have to ring to make a booking of that size. You can check the dates online. However, f rom May 16th 2024 you can only book 30 days in advance (until May 15th you can book 2 months in advance). The webpage with the schedule and link to booking form (Japanese only):  https://www.meiji.co.jp/learned/factory/sakado/yoyakutmp.php 

Tour content

Meiji Chocolate Factory Tour Japan

As briefly mentioned above, the tour is mainly of the Meiji Chocolate bars production line. You also get to see a part of their Meiji Twinkle Surprise ** production line. Part of the tour involves visiting a corridor dedicated to information and imagery for Gummy** , another of their popular products, although you don’t actually see the production line for that. A good chunk of the tour is informative video footage. In 2020, they opened the Apollo section to viewing.

Meiji Chocolate fountain

After checking in at the gate house you walk up a zebra crossing like path to the reception building. There, friendly yet professional staff greet you. They show you inside to a small lobby of sorts with an information and display units. About 5 or 6 minutes before the tour starts they guide you upstairs.   There is an area here with photo props and settings. There are also toilets here should you need them.  You have a couple of minutes here before they call you into a room reminiscent of a school classroom only twice the width.

Take home gifts

Gift from Meiji Chocolate Factory tour

In the classroom you are greeted by staff. They check your name of the lists of people participating that day. They give each participant of the tour a gift to take home. The free Meiji Product gift changes daily from what I can tell. Today, we were given a pack of Gummies** and a pack of the very popular Meiji Apollo strawberry and milk flavoured chocolate ** in the shape of Mt Fuji. Once everyone is seated and settled they begin the explanations.

Carl Ojisan of Curl crisps at Meiji

You can take photos in this room, but not after the video footage has started. After a few words from the host/hostess they play the first of two videos shown in the room and of a total of six videos shown throughout the tour.

Samples of Meiji goods at the free factory tour

After the video and lecture has ended, the staff split people into groups. Each group starts at a different point of the factory so it will depend on the day what comes next. For us it was a little bit of time in the first floor product display area where our guide gave us some information about the products on display. You can take photos in this area. After this we crossed the road to the Gummy information corridor. I would have loved to have taken a photo here, but photos are not allowed in this part. We were shown more information and some product props. We were also given a sweet to eat.

Meiji Chocolate bar on window blinds at the free factory tour in Saitama Prefecture

Meiji Chocolate Production Line

Carl Ojisan on the front of an elevator

Next it was back over the road and back into the reception building, up a stairs (or elevator if needed), across a foot bridge and into the chocolate factory to view the Meiji staff making chocolate on the production line.  The divine smell of chocolate entices you before you even get in the gate, but in this part of the Meiji grounds it downright bewitches you. Thankfully at this part of the tour they also give you a piece of chocolate to eat. Unfortunately though you are not allowed take photos during this part of the tour either. I really wanted a photo of the chocolate corridor!

You also get to see the chocolate being poured into a depositer for shaping into the classic Meiji Bar shape. Today they were making the classic bars, but on other days they make the dark chocolate or milk bars. You see each stage on the automated line, with staff overseeing and double checking everything, right up to the packaged bars being boxed into packs of 10 . All the while the guide gives you information about everything from where and how they get the cacao used in Meiji chocolate , to how much chocolate they produce daily. After this line you move onto the Twinkle Surprise line which due to the complexity of the product has more human help than the Meiji bar production lines.

End of the line!

Carl Ojisan outside the Meiji Chocolate factory in Saitama prefecture

This was the end of the line for us, figuratively and literally. Our guide walked us out of the building. You come back out beside the Gummy information tunnel area, where there is a statue of Carl Ojiisan. Carl Ojiisan is the well known mascot of Meiji’s snack Curl .  The tour at Sakado actually used to be of the Curl production line. At one point you could see both Curl and the chocolate side of things, but they dropped the Curl tour last year (2017). In 2020, the tour of the Apollo production line replaces it. We got a group photo in front of Carl Ojiisan and  then said our goodbyes and thanks.

Throughout the whole tour we received so much information. In truth it was almost too much really. I personally walked away with my head swimming with information about Meiji, cacao farms, chocolate production, Gummy production, statistical figures and random facts. Definitely an educational tour!

🍫Language at the Meiji Chocolate Factory

Unlike the Pocky Factory Tour (my #1 of the factories I’ve been to so far) that has English explanations at each viewing point of the production line, Meiji has zero English at their factory tour in Sakado. As such, I would recommend that you only take this tour if you understand Japanese and/or have an interpreter or translator with you.

Meiji Chocolate Factory Information

🍫meiji chocolate factory tour times.

You can opt to take the tour at one of three time slots on days that tours are scheduled. During the summer there are tours almost every weekday, but during the year the schedule varies. The times of the tours are usually the same:  9.30 am or 11.30 am or 2 pm. Each time the tour lasts up to 90 minutes.

🍫Meiji Chocolate Factory Access

Parking was not available when I last visited. There is no coin parking in the immediate vicinity, but a 10 minute walk away, half way between the station and the factory, there are two coin parking lots.

A dinosaur bus stop sign in Sakado City

By public transport: the nearest station is Wakaba Station on the Tobu Tojo line just 45 minutes from Ikebukuro station. You can get a bus from the station for the later tours, but there is no bus close to the first tour of the day. The bus stop is in the rotary on the East sound bound for the Fujimi Industrial Estate you alight at 富士見六丁目. The bus timetable from Wakaba station in Japanese, click here . You can also walk from the station, it is about a 20 minute walk from Wakaba station or 5 minutes in a taxi. Google Map below.

🍫 Official Website :  https://www.meiji.co.jp/learned/factory/sakado/

Editor’s note, for posterity! They closed the factory to the public from March 2020 until January 16th 2022. It reopened to the citizens of Saitama Prefecture ONLY on January 17th 2022 for just one week. Unfortunately, shortly after announcing it was reopening, it had to close again due to the increase of Coronavirus cases in Saitama Prefecture. They reopened the factory to the public on May 23rd 2022 and removed the restriction of just residents of Saitama.

Support this blog for free by sharing this post:

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Wow! It’s like a modern day Willie Wonka!

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We were laughing before we went that we might meet the Japanese equivalent of Willy Wonka… but had there been oompa loompas I’d have ran out of there as fast as my legs could carry me!!!

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How fun to learn about chocolate and how it’s made. (And I would love to go to the Pocky tour!!)

The Pocky one is definitely the best that I’ve been to so far. I really want to do the Cup Ramen one in Yokohama too. Every time I cross something off my bucket list I add something new 😂

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This looks like such a fun day!! I would feel like Lucille ball and Ethel merman in the episode they worked in a chocolate factory but could not stop eating the chocolate!

They say they use the glass partitions to keep the germs and insects out, but I think its to keep the likes of me out… if I could have gotten at it, especially the depositor pouring the liquid chocolate, I’d have wrapped my gob around it and drank it unapologetically!!!! 🙂

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i used to love the white Meiji chocolate when I lived in Japan! Wow! booking in advance for a chocolate factory though? wowsers!

In true Japanese style it is a very organised affair, hence the need to book in advance. It’s the only way to get a golden ticket 😉

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A tourist guide of what to see, things to do , best places , festivals , events and activities in Saitama , near Tokyo, Japan

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