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 average daily expenses to be very similar to our daily costs in New Zealand.
So how much does it cost to travel Japan?
We found that our Japan daily budget was ¥13.418 (€107/$122) for us a couple! Check the infographic below for a detailed information about the costs of a trip to Japan and read along for advice how to travel Japan on a budget.
Japan travel budget: important facts and figures
• I traveled 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, but as the exchange rate varies this may be different now.
• 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, you can find the itinerary here. We spent 10 days on Hokkaido (the northernmost island of Japan) and 19 days on Honshu (the biggest island of Japan).
Cost to travel Japan: our average daily expenses
1. Accommodation: 23% of daily costs
2. Transportation: 39% of daily costs
3. Food & miscellaneous: 34% of daily costs
4. 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:
On Hokkaido we made a 10 day road trip (read all about renting a car and driving in Japan here). I love road trips and have an entire category dedicated to road trips on the blog. Nothing beats the freedom of having my own wheels and go wherever I want to go, wherever the road takes me…
But I digress. During our road trip on Hokkaido we stayed at 2 campsites. We also went camping on Miyajima island (near Hiroshima) and in Kamikochi (in ). You can find all the information about the accommodation we stayed at during our 1-month trip here.
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.
We stayed at hotels via Agoda and Booking, at Airbnb appartments and a cute wooden cabin in the woods during our trip, 17 nights in total. Prices varied between ¥2700 (€22/$25) and ¥7750 (€62/$70), more than hotels in Southeast Asia but cheaper than New Zealand and similar to accommodation on Sardinia in Europe.
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 I state in my Hokkaido post, my car was provided by ToCoo. They were so kind to provide me with a free rental car for my 10 day trip around Hokkaido. However, I would never recommend a product or service on my blog I don’t have a positive and personal experience with.
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.
Even though the rental fee for my car was provided by ToCoo, there were other costs to pay. You can check out the ‘driving in Japan’ post for the detailed breakdown, for the overall budget suffice 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 with a tent and to sleep in your car. This will save you a lot of money on accommodation!
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!
We used a lot of other transport, such as the bus around the Japanese Alps and the metro in Tokyo. Total costs for all other transportation was ¥58.180JPY (€465/$529).
3. Cost of food in Japan
Oh the food in Japan… I loved everything I ate. And I ate a lot… You can read all about it in this post. So much choice and so much 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’ 1 month instead of 5 months like last year, 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).
So that’s all our Japan expenses!
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 ¥!
Japan group tour (max 8 people) with Becki
If you would like to visit Japan, but prefer to be part of an organised group I highly recommend taking a tour with Becki. She has been living in Japan for more than 10 years and runs small, fully-escorted group tours in Japan. You can choose between a 7-day, 14-day or 22-day tour in fall or spring (the best seasons to visit Japan).
Becki is a small business owner, she personally meets every group and escorts them around Japan. So don’t worry about being part of a large impersonal tour, that’s not Beckis style! I am pleased to offer a unique $100 discount for Becki’s tours (use PHGL), you can find more information about the tours on Becki’s website.