Japan Australia Pages

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Japan on a Budget

Japan is a great tourist destination and it is possible to visit Japan on a budget. Here are some money saving tips to help you on your next trip.


If you plan to do a lot of travelling in Japan then it is worth getting the Japan Rail Pass, which allows unlimited travel on almost all JR trains, including the shinkansen (excluding the Nozomi superexpress). This pass can only be purchased outside of Japan and will save you travel money in Japan.

In Tokyo, most of the main sights and hot spots can be visited via the JR Train Line (Yamanote loop line) with a one-day JR train pass for 730 yen (about USD$9). You can also look at regional pass like the JR Kanto Area Pass.


Possibly the biggest expense will be accommodation, but there are quite a few cheaper options including:

Capsule Hotels – which range in price from about USD$40-$50 a night with access to baths and sauna.

Minshuku Japanese style guesthouses – are great simple accommodation ranging from about USD$37.

Business Hotels – a great compromise with prices around USD$70 for a single room and USD$100 for a double. I recommend the Toyoko Inn hotel chain located all over Japan as they include free breakfast, TV, and internet connection in your room.


Prices at regular Japanese restaurants are usually USD$8-$15 a meal, but food can cost you as little as USD$5-8 a meal if you eat at budget Japanese restaurants like Yoshinoya, Sukiya, and CoCo Ichiban Curry House. Look for lunch set specials, which are great value and cost as little as USD$7-8. Some fast food restaurants have them even cheaper at around USD$5.


Many attractions in Japan are free including temples, shrines and gardens. The more famous attractions will charge an entrance fee but this is usually as little as 500 yen about USD$6.

I would say about USD$80-100 per day is possible done on a budget. Start saving and plan a trip to Japan on a budget in 2012.


  1. Japan can be expensive and Japan can be quite affordable too. ^^

  2. Thanks Lina, That is true! Japan can be expensive if you want it to or cheap and affordable for the budget traveller. That is why it is a great destination.

  3. The Japan rail pass is a great idea for some heavy traveling throughout Japan. I've been wondering if they have a similar pass for people living in Japan though?? I'd love to be able to just take the shinkansen all through Japan for a month or something Lol

  4. Thanks Alyse, The Japan Rail Pass is not as helpful for someone like you currently living in Japan. Check out other passes like the JR Kanto Area Pass that is new for non-Japanese passport holders. It allows for unlimited travel on JR trains (including shinkansen and limited express trains) and selected non-JR trains in the Kanto Region on three consecutive days. The pass goes on sale from December 2011 and can be used from January 2012.

  5. Hi, I'm back in Japan for my 5th trip.This is the first time I've stayed for any length of time in tokyo.Staying in Taito-ku at the Oak Hotel ! once was a business hotel now a backpackers place with single rooms, beds or tatami and what must have been family rooms are small dorms , about 4 people,they also have a womens only level and rooms for couples. Total cost for a single room with bathroom ,tv,small fridge, free internet in room, small hot water boiler ! for tea and bathroom items(towels,soap,toothbrush,shampoo)for 7 nights Yen 33600.Also have downstairs laundry and microscopic kitchen plus free internet stations and wifi in lobby.Picked up a JR East 4 day flexi pass (that expires on 21 January)for Yen 20,000 might seem expensive but if you want to say go skiing in Tohoku you can use one day of the four to get there ski for a week and come back to Tokyo that equates to 5000 yen for a shinkansen each way, really good value if you use it properly and can still use it for another return trip before expiry date. Food is still cheap if you know where to look, highest price in the last three days $15 australian lowest $4.50 australian.

  6. Japan is falling down a deflation spiral.
    So you may be able to buy some goods cheaper than before although there is rise of the yen.

  7. Well-put, Lina. I think of Japan as an expensive country, but hotels aren't always that bad. I would often stay at the APA Hotel when traveling as the prices are competitive and in my experience the rooms are always clean and fairly comfortable. Never did stay at a capsule hotel as I want to relax when I travel, but kind of wish I had tried it once for the novelty of it. Did stay overnight at a manga cafe once. Don't really recommend it.

  8. Thanks llewellyn, you sound like the experienced traveller and good to see that you have made so many trips to Japan. The Oak Hotel seems very reasonable and has all that you could need. The JR East 4 day flexi pass is definitely worth it if you use it wisely like you suggested. Thanks for the extra tips :)

    Thanks Cocomino, now is a pretty good time to visit Japan :)

    Thanks Blue Shoes, Japan can be expensive if you stay at top of the range hotels and eat at Michelin star restaurants. It can also be done on the cheap and business/budget hotels are really affordable. The APA Hotel is a good chain as well and I have used them several times. Capsule hotels are pretty good as well and worth it at least once for the experience. I love the baths and sauna that come along with them :)

  9. If you live in Japan (including Japanese citizens) during off peak times lots of good deals come up for rail travel. Including ones that include meals and accommodation. We got a two day JR West Pass that allowed unlimited Shinkansen travel (including Nozomi!) plus up to four seating reservations for 16,000yen. You do need to read Japanese (or have a someone you know who does and will tell you) to find out about a lot of these.

  10. Thanks James, that is some great advice. If you keep an eye out there are some really good deals, especially during the off peak times and seasons. There are also a lot of seasonal deals that takes place through-out the year. We keep an eye on the JR website and also the Japanese newspapers :)

  11. If you fly into Osaka and want to visit the Kansai region, Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan, Osaka, Wakayama, the JR pass is not necessary. The Kansai Thru Pass covers the Kansai Region, not JR trains and is only Y5000 for three days.

  12. Thanks CaroleAnn, That is a great tip as well and well worth it to see the Kansai area on a short trip. There are lots of great bargains and tips out there to be found. I hope to hear a lot more of them from everyone as time goes by :)

  13. I went here because of the Yahoo! Answers. HEY! We actually can ride the shinkansen using the JR Rail Pass? That is so cool! Can u tell me how to use the pass when I wanna ride a shinkansen? Thanks a lot! I also need hotels, cheap ones but big enough for 7 people. YES! 7 people, I'll try to sneak the others into the room when I am checking in. So yeah, help me. Can u give me a list of must-sees, must-dos, must-eats, must-gos etc for a stay of 11 days? And also a list of cities I must visit during my travel. Thanks a lot! And how to go to Mount Fuji?

  14. Thanks Joshua, Yes, you can use the Shinkansen excluding the Nozomi superexpress. The must see places in Japan are Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Takayama and Hiroshima. Must eats include Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki in Osaka and real sushi from a sushi restaurant. I also recommend popular festival food like Yakisoba and Karaage. You'll find lots more info about Japan through-out this blog.

  15. so i want to visit japan in summer (sometime soon) and these make some great tips and advice, only do i HAVE to know japanese in order to visit? i mean i can say basic dialouge (hello, goodbye, etc)but thats about it. i have rossetta stone, so learning it is an option, but unless its crucial to know it, i'd rather not (at least at this moment)

    1. Thanks for the comment Anon, A lot of people in major cities and tourist areas can speak and understand basic English. Big cities like Tokyo have lots of signs in English and most tourist can get around without too much difficulty. Train stations will have signs in both English and Japanese and tickets can be bought from a machine that provides English translation. Most restaurants in the big cities and tourist areas will have an English menu or food displays at the front of the shop.

      It is possible to get around without a lot of Japanese, but I would always recommend learning some basic Japanese as this will make your experience more enjoyable. Try and learn around 10-15 phrases which will have an amazing effect in communicating and building rapport.

  16. I second the recommendation on Toyoko Inn Hotels!
    You should get a member card (for free). They offer those to foreign visitors, too. You don't have to live in Japan to get one. If you travel to Japan more than just once, it will be profitable! It also is more convenient for making reservations!

    I hope that one day I can use a Rail Pass, too!
    Unfortunately they're only available to visitors. ^-^;

    1. Thanks ZoomingJapan, The member card sounds like a great idea and definitely worth it for any extra little perks you can receive.

      The Japan Rail Pass is great if you are a visitor to Japan, but mot if you already live in Japan. You should check out other passes like the Japan Rail Kanto Area Pass, which is great for people like you who live in Japan. The Japan Rail Kanto Area Pass is new for non-Japanese passport holders. It allows for unlimited travel on JR trains (including shinkansen and limited express trains) and selected non-JR trains in the Kanto Region on three consecutive days.



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