Some of the most frequently asked questions on this website are money & Japan related. “How much did you pay for that trip to Japan?” or “was Japan very expensive?”. It’s not easy to reply quickly to each individual question, so I decided to share all our costs and thoughts in one article instead.
This is to give you a rough idea of how much your trip may cost, what to expect money-wise in Japan and to make planning somewhat easier.
The numbers – how much did we pay to travel in Japan?
Our spend (excluding the flights) on each of our 5 trips:
1 – February 2015, travelling as a couple – average per person per day ¥15 500 (€115 | $165 AUD) – total money spent ¥310 000 (€2300 | $3350 AUD)
2 – July/August 2015, travelling in a group of 3 – average per person per day ¥15 900 (€115 | $175 AUD) – total money spent ¥764 700 (€5650 | $8500 AUD)
3 – May 2016, travelling as a couple – average per person per day ¥13 350 (€110 | $170 AUD) – total money spent ¥293 700 (€2390 | $3700 AUD)
4 – October 2016, travelling as a couple – average per person per day ¥20 000 (€175 | $255 AUD) – total money spent ¥360 000 (€3200 | $4600 AUD)
5 – September 2017, travelling as a couple plus 2 solo days for me – average per person per day ¥15 200 (€115 | $170 AUD) – total money spent ¥273 300 (€2050 | $3100 AUD)
Factors to consider & sample prices
This usually takes the biggest chunk of our budget. There’s a lot to choose from when it comes to accommodation options in Japan (check out our guide here) and you can easily make this as little or as big part of your budget as you want. It all depends on your style of travelling. We mostly stay in business hotels, where we have privacy, a decent bed and private bathroom and then treat ourselves to a ryokan or a fancy hotel for 1 or 2 nights.
Food & drinks
Before going to Japan I expected that food & drinks were going to be expensive – that’s not necessarily true. Again, it’s a case of it will be as expensive as you make it.
Breakfasts: these are sometimes included in the price of a hotel room. If they’re not, we get a convenience store breakfast. A couple of onigiris (¥108 – ¥150 each on average) or a melon pan (¥130) usually do the trick.
Lunches & dinners: the majority of those in our case happened in restaurants, cafes or as a take away on board of shinkansen and include a drink (most likely beer – extra ¥300-¥650 each) as well. The prices vary here the most so some examples:
- Sukiya, Yoshinoya, Tempura Tendon Tenya – cheap diners serving rice bowl dishes (donburi), machine ordering system: ¥350-¥800
- ramen shops – the majority with machine ordering system: ¥500 – ¥800
- tonkatsu curry at a restaurant in Shinjuku: ¥1050
- Mos Burger: ¥360 – ¥440
- tempura soba in a restaurant specialising in soba: ¥1550
- unagi lunch special in a restaurant specialising in unagi dishes: ¥2700
- conveyor belt sushi: ¥108 – ¥380 per plate
- ekiben – bento bought at a train station or on board of shinkansen: ¥800 – ¥1000
- steak dinner set in a hotel restaurant in Hakone: ¥5500
- premium tonkatsu lunch special at a restaurant specialising in tonkatsu: ¥1800
- katsu curry at Narita Airport: ¥1166 (large beer ¥918)
- sushi set at a good seaside sushi restaurant: ¥3400
Coffee: a decent cup of flat white will cost at least ¥480 and with 2 coffee addicts like us that quickly adds up. Starbucks or Tully’s are slightly cheaper, around ¥350 but some days the best available coffees are the sweetened, canned ones from vending machines for ¥120.
Treats & snacks: there are many places selling street food, ice cream and sweets that you’ll stumble upon while walking from point A to B. Often the smell is too good to say no or there’s a long line of locals so you know it must be good. Some examples: hot croquettes ¥200, soft serve ice cream ¥300 – ¥500, takoyaki ¥500, freshly baked custard pastry ¥250, taiyaki ¥150.
Buses, trains, metro and JR passes. On our first trip, it was only 6% of our budget because we stayed in Tokyo and used only metro and regional trains for our day trips. It gets closer to 20% of the budget when we’re travelling around Japan with a JR Pass, which costs around $500 for 14 days.
- JR Pass Tohoku: ¥20 000
- Access Narita Airport Bus: ¥1000
- single metro ticket from Shinjuku to Shibuya: ¥170
- Hiroshima 1 Day Streetcar Pass: ¥600
This includes all the museums, aquariums, towers, temples, cruises and parks – pretty much anywhere we needed a ticket and it wasn’t transportation. You can easily cut costs by not going to many of those places but on the other hand, if you’re making it all the way to Japan already then why not.
- Tokyo Sky Tree: ¥2060
- Tokyo National Museum: ¥620
- Matsushima Cruise: ¥1500
- Toshogu Shrine (in Nikko): ¥1300
- Shinjuku Gyoen: ¥200
- Kotoku-in (Big Buddha temple in Kamakura): ¥200
- Hakone Open-Air Museum: ¥1400
- Ghibli Museum: ¥1000
The miscellaneous expenses are all over the place. Ranging from souvenirs or useful stuff to probably some unnecessary items or things like SIM cards that don’t really belong to other categories. We might have bought more/less/else than you would so take that into account when budgeting your trip.
- Uniqlo “Omiyage” series t-shirt: ¥1500
- manga: ¥432
- a miniature torii: ¥1000
- 2 pairs of cute socks: ¥680
- coin laundry + 15-minute drying of one load: ¥600
- SIM: ¥3500
- good kitchen knife: ¥7700
Any questions? Want to share your expenses? Feel free to post in the comments.