Life in Japan: Japan on a Budget

Japan has a reputation for being expensive. But in recent years, it’s not really that expensive. It’s about as expensive as Canada, USA, Australia, or any place in Europe.  This week’s question comes from Trisha Ann.

I’m planning to visit Japan in October. My trip takes 6 days and I’m on a tight budget (but I won’t leave Jp without ever going to Harry Potter world and Kyoto!!). Any tips?

I’ve already written about visiting Kyoto, so I’ll talk about visiting Japan on a budget.

It may seem daunting to some people, considering all the touristy areas tend to be expensive.  But there are many ways to save money, especially related to food and transportation.

Going to big restaurants in the busy, tourist areas is not recommended.  Those restaurants tend to be geared toward tourists, anyway, so they raise the prices.  If you want cheap, go on some of the back streets where tourists usually don’t go. You can find a large number of small restaurants that are actually quite cheap. Just be aware that they may not speak any English or have an English menu. If they have a display case of plastic food, that’s great to point out what you want.  If you really want to save money, you can always go to a supermarket and get food there.  It depends on if you’re able to cook or not (probably not). But they have already prepared meals in supermarkets and convenience stores which are much cheaper than restaurants. Convenience stores and supermarkets both often have microwaves and tables for you to eat at.

Transportation is fairly simple. Avoid taxis. They’re expensive. If possible, try taking the train as much as you can, or even just walking.  If available, you could get a weekly pass for the train. Kyoto is fairly walkable, so you could easily walk from one place to another. One of the good things about walking is that you get to see the real Japan, going through residential neighbourhoods. The central part of the city is based on a grid, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get around. Be careful about rickshaw rides. They could get pricey, but I don’t know what they’re like in Kyoto. As for Osaka, it’s a bit more difficult to get around because of the street layout. But the trains, like Kyoto, should be very useful, especially if you have a pass.

I hope that helps. Enjoy your trip to Japan.

If you have any questions about living in Japan, please see the original post and leave your questions in the comments.

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5 thoughts on “Life in Japan: Japan on a Budget”

  1. Great tips!! I’d like to go back to Japan soon as the dollar is getting stronger and stronger 🙂 when I stayed in Tokyo I found lodging through airbnb for less than $20/nt! Sure it was a bunk in a living room but…when on a budget and while traveling, sleep is on the bottom of my list!

  2. supermarkets also have reduced prices in the evening on things like fish or freshly prepared dishes and they sell food in a lot of 100 yen shops now so you can buy noodles and cook them in the common kitchen of your YH.

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