When planning a trip to Japan, one of the things that comes to mind is cost. When mentioning the topic, often the first reaction is: "Isn't Japan super expensive?!". The answer is that Japan is surprisingly affordable and there’s something in every budget range. In this post we do a full breakdown of costs for a low, medium and high budget.
Costs are divided in daily costs- like food and accommodation, then there are one time costs such a flight ticket. This will help you put together a sample budget for Japan and get an idea of what prices are like.
The cost of accommodation in Japan
The cost of accommodation is one that takes of a significant amount of any travel budget, yet Japan has surprisingly low budget options available in the form of hostels, capsule hotels and business hotels.
(¥2000 - ¥6500 per night)
Hostels in Japan generally costs between ¥2.000 to ¥3.500 per night, and are available all over the country. Generally hostels are very clean and are a great way to meet locals and other travellers alike.
Capsule hotels are popular with business travellers in Japan who need to work late or stay out late and are unable to return home after the last trains have departed. Generally the cost of a night stay in a capsule hotel is between ¥3.000 to ¥4.000. Providing a tad more privacy compared to hostels, capsule hotels are a great choice for budget travellers and are a unique experience on their own.
Business hotels are often found near train stations in Japan and are low cost, no frills experiences that provide private accommodation. Prices typically range between ¥4.500 to ¥6.500 per night and include any basic convenience you’d expect from a hotel. Hotel change include: APA hotel, Dormy-inn, Toyoko-Inn, and Super Hotel. Prices can even be lowered by booking directly with the hotel, using their loyalty programs and maximizing coupons.
(¥6500 - ¥14000 per night)
Accommodations in the medium budget range include hotels and Ryokan & Minshuku (traditional Japanese lodgings) that make for a comfortable stay and are typically similar in price to hotels in other western countries.
Minshuku: are Japanese-style bed and breakfasts that are often family operated that have a traditional atmosphere and are often located near popular tourist destinations, but may also be found in the countryside. A typical cost for a Minshuku will range between ¥6.000 to ¥10.000 yen and include breakfast. A traditional dinner may also be available at a higher rate.
Ryokan: are Japanese-style inns that offer more than just accommodation. While Ryokan can range widely in price and luxury, a basic Ryokan will likely include a Japanese style Tamami room, Onsen hot bath and classic Japanese breakfast. Typical prices start at around ¥6.000 per night per person, while high-end Ryokan may charge a tenfold (more on them below). Ryokan are a unique Japanese experience, and we recommend including at least one Ryokan stay to any trip to Japan.
Hotels: There is plenty of choice when it comes to medium budget hotels in Japan. From domestic chains to international brands. Hotels in this range are similar in style and experience to hotels in other countries and are often located at busy parts of town or popular destinations for each access around the area. These kind of hotels are often an easy choice for families travelling together.
(¥14000+ per night)
When it comes to high-end and exclusive hotels, then the sky is the limit. A good 4 to 5-star hotel in Japan will start at around ¥14.000, while high-end Ryokan at this price point include a full traditional experience and may include full-board stays.
High-end Hotels: Whether you may be looking for a Western style hotel or Japanese experience, there is plenty of choice. These hotels are often located in prime locations, with spacious rooms and a range of comforts to choose from. Resorts can be found in a variety of places, like Tokyo Bay, winter sport area's or sunny Okinawa.
High-end Ryokan: This is where you'll find the Japanese royal experience. High-end Ryokan come with luxurious traditional rooms, private onsen, full board and kaiseki meals and activities planned throughout the day, that may include traditional music, dancing, story telling and more. Ryokan are often found in resort towns around the country like Hakone, Izu-Peninsula, the Japanese Alps, and Kyushu. Even just staying one night in a Ryokan is an experience to be remembered for a long time.
The cost of Food and drink in Japan
Similar to the cost of accommodation, the cost of food and drink can range from surprisingly affordable to sky-high for unique experiences. Here's what typical costs are like for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks.
A good breakfast can be had for as little as ¥500 in Japan. Think of a visit to a convenience store of local bakery. Where a-la-carte items are sold like a variety of breads, sandwiches, onigiri rice balls and the like. Convenience stores also have surprisingly low cost coffee at around ¥150. For a mid-range breakfast, hotels and coffee shops around town are a good option. It's common to see breakfast sets on sale that may include a sandwich and hot beverage of your choice, the cost for this is typically around ¥500 - ¥1.000. Breakfast at hotels when not included in the rate typically starts at around ¥1.000 but may well be over ¥3.000 in luxury resorts.
A good and budget friendly lunch can be had between ¥500 - ¥1.000 with a variety of options. A popular option is bento lunch box (or ekiben for on the train) that can be bought at local stores. Food courts in malls have so-called 1 coin (500yen) lunch deals that include set meal options with rice, noodles, meat or fish and a small salad. Restaurants will often also offer lunch sets around ¥1.000 to ¥1.500, that can include a variety of dishes like curry, tonkatsu or sashimi but also more western type meals like pasta or spaghetti. Lunch is also a great chance to try out new foods at a relatively affordable price. Better restaurants may also offer lunch options that typically range from ¥1.500 to ¥3.000.
A cheap but filling dinner can be had between ¥500 to ¥1.000 at fast food joints like McDonald's but more interesting are Japanese style fast food restaurants like Matsuya, Sukiya and Yoshinoya. Famous for their Gyudon beef bowls, set-meals and curry these cater to workers and people in a hurry. The food is surprisingly good for the price and healthy compared to western alternatives.
For a typical normal priced dinner at a restaurant in Japan, expect to pay between ¥1.500 to ¥3.500 which could include any kind of food, like ramen, sushi, yakiniku, burgers, dumplings and so on.
A high-end dinner will range from ¥5.000 to ¥20.000 or more. There's a wide range of options at this level like Kaiseki meals, Sushi, Steak, Mediterranean style food and special experiences like Kobe beef.
Cost of transportation in Japan
While transport costs in Japan are high for longer distance travel, getting around does not have to be expensive by making use of special tickets and passes around Japan that promote regional tourism, these include the Japan Rail Pass, Regional Passes and a variety of day tickets.
Japan Rail Pass: What’s great about the JR Pass is that the price is always the same, no matter when you travel. This makes for easy budgeting, and you won’t have to worry about unexpected transport costs in Japan. The standard prices of a JR Pass are ¥29,650 for 7-days, ¥47,250 for 14 days and ¥60,450 for 21 days when purchased online through www.jrpass.com.
For those interested in 1st class travel, a Green Pass (1st Class JR Pass) is an interesting option, especially since the price difference with the normal JR Pass only around 25% more. Prices are ¥39,600 for 7-days, ¥64,120 for 14-days and ¥83,390 for 21-days respectively.
Outside the Japan Rail Pass there may still be additional transport required to travel, this could be the metro, non-JR buses, ferries, or the occasional taxi. With this in mind we recommended reserving 1.500yen per day extra for extra's.
Cost of sightseeing in Japan
This includes things like entrance fees, tickets and tours. While this will differ on a daily basis, it does average out. To get an idea of costs, expect the following kinds of fees per attraction:
Castles: entrance fees range between ¥300- ¥1000, sometimes more for special exhibitions.
Museums: Museum entrance fees range between ¥400 to ¥1800yen
Temple visit: While most temples and shrines are free in Japan, the more special and touristic places generally charge a fee, ranging between ¥200 to ¥800.
Theme Parks: Theme parks, like Disneyland, cost between ¥5.000 to ¥9.000 for a day visit.
Tours: City walking tours can be as little as ¥1.000yen, while full day tours such as a visit to Fuji can cost over ¥10.000. Japan is surprisingly accessible and often organizing day trips yourself using the JR Pass costs little to nothing extra.
One time costs for a trip to Japan
Flight: Cost of a flight depends largely on where you are flying from. A typical return flight from the US to Japan will cost about $900, from Europe to Japan €700 and $859 (AUD) from Australia. Prices below these rates are generally speaking a good deal. Keep in mind that air fares can fluctuate significantly depends on different factors, including high season, availability and carrier.
Shopping budget and souvenirs:
Visiting Japan is a special occasion and most of us will want to bring some of that home. From a small keepsake to a wild shopping spree. This is an expense that will be variable from person to person. We do recommend setting aside a budget that fits your financials before going to Japan.
As with almost any country, there's a wide range of budget options available and Japan is no exception. Even on a low budget there is plenty to see and do without breaking the bank. Outside of one time costs, a typical budget for a visit to Japan looks like:
Low budget: ¥5.000 - ¥8.000 per day
Medium budget: ¥8.000 - ¥15.000 per day
High budget: ¥15.000 - ¥30.000+ per day
Multiply this by the amount of days you plan to stay and the the one time costs, and you should have a good indication of the total cost for your Japan trip.