When I told people I would be going to Japan, the first thing they said was: isn’t that extremely expensive? I replied that my return ticket from the Netherlands to Tokyo was only €550 and the rest of the costs of a trip to Japan I would find out there…
I spent a month in Japan and can say from personal experience: Yes, Japan is expensive. BUT… definitely not as expensive as you might think! No, prices are not comparable to Southeast Asia. However, I found our Japan travel budget to be very similar to our daily costs in New Zealand.
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Japan travel budget
How to travel Japan on a budget
We found that our Japan daily budget was ¥13.418 (€107/$122) for us a couple! Check the infographic below for detailed information about the costs of a trip to Japan and read along for advice on how to travel Japan on a budget.
Japan budget travel: important facts and figures
- I traveled around Japan with my husband, all expenses mentioned are for the two of us together.
- I quote prices in the Japanese Yen (¥) as well as € and $. When we were in Japan, €1 was around 125JPY and $1 was around 110JPY, you can find the current exchange rates here.
- I spent almost a full month in Japan, 29 days to be exact. In total, we spent ¥389.122 (€3103/$3538), which comes down to an average of ¥13.418 (€107/$122) a day for us as a couple. This includes all our Japan travel costs (see note below car section).
- It does not include our airplane tickets from the Netherlands to Japan and back home.
- My trip started and ended in Tokyo.
- We spent 10 days on Hokkaido (the northernmost island of Japan) and the other 19 days on Honshu.
Cost to travel Japan: average daily expenses
Our Japan travel expenses are divided into four categories:
- Accommodation: 23% of daily costs
- Transportation: 39% of daily costs
- Food & Miscellaneous: 34% of daily costs
- Paid activities: 4% of daily costs
1. Accommodation costs in Japan
In total we spent ¥92.178 (€740/$832) on accommodation, averaging ¥3179 (€25/$29) per day. The accommodation costs are split into three categories:
• Sleeping in our car
In the table below you can find an overview of the places we stayed in.
|Location||Accommodation||Price per night||Book/information|
|Lake Shikotsu||Campsite Morappu||€12,80/$14||Website|
|Lake Toya||Nakatoya Camping Ground||€7,20/$8||Website|
|Fukushima||Slept in our car (at park place)||free|
|Toyako Onsen||Slept in our car (at park place)||free|
|Furano||Log Yukari Guesthouse||€24/$26||Agoda||Booking|
|Sōunkyō||Slept in our car (at park place)||free|
|Akanko Onsen||Slept in our car (at park place)||free|
|Sapporo||Hotel Areaone Chitose||€48/$53||Agoda||Booking|
|Hiroshima||Hiroshima Pacific Hotel||€40/$45||Agoda||Booking|
|Kyoto||Mi’s place (no longer listed)||€28/$31|
|Kanazawa||APA Hotel Katamachi||€40/$45||Agoda||Booking|
|Takayama||Hida Guesthouse Gekka||€50/$55||Agoda||Booking|
|Narita airport||Narita Gateway Hotel||€63/$69||Agoda||Booking|
*Update July 2021: unfortunately some of these accommodations are no longer available. I’ve done my utmost to find a suitable alternative.
On Hokkaido, we made a 10-day road trip and stayed at 2 campsites. We also went camping on Miyajima Island and in Kamikochi (in the Japanese Alps). You can find more information about the accommodation we stayed at in our Japan itinerary.
Sleeping in our car
I went to Japan in April/May and during that time it can still be very cold on Hokkaido. There were several nights when the temperature dipped below 0 degrees Celsius. Also, we had a little rain every once in a while.
This led to us sleeping in our car for 4 nights. Which is totally accepted in Japan! One night it was actually very crowded in the parking lot where we stayed the night, the crowd varied from a business man who slept in his sports car to camper vans complete with their own generator and TV-reception antennae.
Prices varied between ¥2700 (€22/$25) and ¥7750 (€62/$70), more than hotels in Southeast Asia but cheaper than New Zealand.
2. Transportation costs in Japan
In total we spent ¥150.332 (€1202/$1367) on transportation, averaging ¥5185 (€42/$47) per day. Transportation costs are split into 4 categories:
• Rail pass
• Other transport
There are several budget airlines in Japan (Jetstar, Peach, and Vanilla), we flew with Jetstar from Tokyo to New Chitose Airport on Hokkaido and from Hokkaido to Kansai airport, near Osaka, for 21.625JPY (€173/$197).
You can read all about renting a car and driving on Hokkaido in this post, as well as a detailed cost breakdown for the car rental. My car was provided by ToCoo. They were so kind as to provide me with a free rental car for my 10 day trip around Hokkaido.
Even though the rental fee for my car was provided by ToCoo, there were other costs to pay which you can find in my Hokkaido post.
For the overall budget suffices to say that the total costs of renting a car for 10 days were ¥42.527, which comes down to ¥4253 (€34/$39) per day. Add to this the daily rental fee of the car you would like to rent and you have your total.
If this seems expensive, keep in mind that a car gives you the option to go camping in a tent and to sleep in your car. This will save you a lot of money on accommodation!
My experience with ToCoo is excellent and I would have rented my car there even if they hadn’t offered me a free car. I did a lot of research about car rental options and found ToCoo offered the best rates and value for money.
Plus, ToCoo is one of the car rental companies recommended by Japan Guide, one of the most comprehensive and respected websites about traveling in Japan, which assured me ToCoo is a trustworthy company.
Japan Rail Pass
Upon arriving in Osaka we bought a JR Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass, valid for 5 consecutive days and costing ¥14.000 (€112/$127) per person. I found it great value because it covered all the places we wanted to see in that region.
I liked that I didn’t have to buy the pass before arriving in Japan, as is the case with the regular Japan Rail Pass. It left our itinerary open and allowed us to follow the sun:-). Plus, who wouldn’t want to travel in this spacy looking train!
3. Cost of food in Japan
Oh the food in Japan… I loved everything I ate. And I ate a lot… So much choice and so many delicious dishes! Anyway, back to business;-). In total we spent ¥130.751 (€1044/$1189) on food and some miscellaneous costs, averaging ¥4510 (€36/$41) per day.
It’s possible to spend less on food, but I wanted to try out as many dishes as possible. Also, because we were traveling for ‘only’ one month instead of five months (as we did in 2015) or a year (as we did in 2017), I didn’t feel the need to find the cheapest option for each meal. That being said, we rarely spent more than ¥1000 on a dish.
Miscellaneous is comprised of small expenses like laundry, coin lockers for our luggage and towel rental, etc.
4. Cost of activities in Japan
Last but not least, we spent ¥15.834 (€116/$145) on paid activities, on average ¥546 JPY (€4/$5) per day. We did a lot of sightseeing in the cities (Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nara) and a lot of hiking in the mountains (Koyasan, Hokkaido, and Kamikochi).
Our Japan expenses: in conclusion
I hope my budget breakdown gives some insight into the travel budget needed for Japan. It might not be the cheapest country, but Japan has so much to offer…
In one month I went from hiking in the snow on Hokkaido to climbing to the top of Mount Misen in 30 degrees Celsius at Miyajima island.
I scaled a volcano, camped on the shore of the most gorgeous lake, walked under the vermilion Shinto gates in Kyoto and gawked at the neon galore in Tokyo’s Akihabara. I loved my month in Japan, it was worth every single ¥!
Read my other posts about Japan for more Japan travel inspiration!
This post was updated in July 2021.