Budget tips: what we spent in Japan.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is: “How expensive is travelling in Japan?”. The answer to this question depends on the type of traveller you are, the activities you do and how long you will be travelling for. But of course, I can say something about what we spent in Japan. Therefore in this blog: how expensive was our trip through Japan? Next, to that, I will also share the costs of things in Japan.


How much money did we spend in Japan?

First a big disclaimer: we are not extreme budget backpackers. By this I mean that we almost never sleep in a dormitory, do not cut down on activities and don’t often eat hot pockets. On the other hand, we certainly don’t travel luxuriously: we sleep in hostels, don’t eat often in a restaurant and only take a taxi when that’s there is no other way.
Everyone has different priorities and budgets while travelling. Maybe you don’t care that much about the accommodation you stay at, but prefer to eat out more often. That is totally fine! Just keep this in mind while you read this blog. It’s always possible to travel cheaper or more expensive than we do.

Japan is known as an expensive country. It is not the standard budget backpack destination and is certainly not comparable with South East Asia in terms of prices. Some things are even more expensive than in Europe, public transportation for example. Other things like food are cheaper than in the Netherlands. Below you will find an overview of what we spend.


Our budget facts

Number of days: 20

Total spend: ¥430.800 / €3.241 / $3.777
Avarage spend per day: ¥21.540 /  €162,05 / $188,85

Our Budget: ¥494429 / €3.720 / $4335
Days on or below budget: 85%
Days above budget: 15%

All expenses are for 2 people and calculated on the basis of exchange rates during the trip. This amount is excluding our flights.


Accommodation: 35,4% of the total budget


Total spend:
¥152.600 / €1148 / $1338
Number of nights: 19
Average amount per room for 2 pers: ¥8032 / €60,43 / $70,43

We stayed in different types of accommodations. For example, we slept in hostels, tiny Airbnb flats and spend a few nights in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese hotel. This last type of hotel is a lot more expensive than hostels. I booked many of our accommodations for more than half a year in advance, so the prices were still relatively low.


Transportation: 31,1% of the total budget


Total spend:
¥134.100 / €1009 / $1176

The biggest part of this amount, € 687 (2 pers), was spent on the JR Passes with which we could travel 14 days unlimited by train through Japan. This is quite a high amount, but for us, it was definitely worth the money.


Food and activities: 33,4% of the total budget


Total spend:
¥144.100 / €1084 / $1263

Slightly more than a third of our total budget we spent on food and activities. Prices for food were not as high as we expected. Activities included visits to museums, a bicycle tour and, for example, a Sumo wrestling match.


Gifts: -%

We have received some really sweet gifts from friends and family. For instance a sushi workshop, a luxurious overnight stay and a breakfast of fresh sashimi on the Tsukiji Market. These gifts are not incorporated into the total amount spent.


What do things cost in Japan?

Metro ticket: ¥ 600 / € 4.50 / $ 5.30
You can travel around Tokyo for a whole day with a day pass.

Coffee at supermarket: ¥ 100 / € 0.75 / $ 0.90
Thé best tip for backpackers: at the many small supermarkets you can order a coffee for 100 yen!

Apple: ¥ 100 / € 0.75 / $ 0.90
Fruit in Japan is relatively expensive.

Beer in a cafe: ¥ 380 / € 2.85 / $ 3.35
Especially local beer is pretty well priced in Japan.

Can of Coke: ¥ 150 / € 1.15 / $ 1.30

Bottle of water (1L): ¥ 150 / € 1.15 / $ 1.30

Basic breakfast out (1 pers): ¥ 700 / € 5.25 / $ 6.15
We often took a breakfast deal: a coffee, sandwich and pastry.

Simple lunch / evening meal (1 person): ¥ 1200 / € 9.00 / $ 10.60
A simple meal often consisted of ramen or noodles, which we ordered at a vending machine.

Onigiri (filled rice triangle): ¥ 100 / € 0.75 $ 0.90 to ¥ 200 / € 1.50 / $ 1.75
Two or three of these types of rice triangles function as a budget lunch!


Conclusion: is Japan expensive?

Japan is certainly not cheap, but now that I look back, I find the country a lot cheaper than I expected in advance. Food is relatively cheap, hostels are fine and not too expensive. But public transport is certainly not cheap, fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive and renting a car are pricey.

We could have travelled a lot cheaper, for example by sleeping in capsule hotels or hostels in dormitories. We could also have opted for buses instead of the train. But for us, this was a perfect balance and we stayed under budget too!

Are you looking for budget tips for Japan? I have collected all our budget tips and wrote a blog about this, which you can read here.


Click here to view all my articles on Japan.


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2 Comments

  1. by Desmond Aboagye on 2 October 2018  22:09 Reply

    I want to go to Japan for the 2020 Olympics. What advise do you have for me. I will like to go in a group. Do you know of any groups forming to go to Japan for the Olympics?

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 7 October 2018  12:43 Reply

      Hi Desmond! Sorry for the late response! If I were you I would check out Facebook to see if there are any FB groups of people going there. Next to that you can think of sending an email to the Japanese tourism board in your country, they will most likely have lots of information about this.

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