If you plan on travelling to Japan for the first question most people ask is how much does it cost to go to Japan? There’s a big misconception that Japan is expensive, but I didn’t find it to be that much more expensive than other major cities I’ve visited.

There are plenty of ways to do Japan on a budget, but you’re still going to need to pay for airfare and your transportation costs. It’s better to just approach Japan with a realistic budget in mind and then make adjustments depending on your travel habits. Regardless of which country you’re from, make sure you apply for a credit card with no foreign exchange fees before you depart.

Japan budget for 2 weeks

 Estimated cost
Airfare$800
JR Rail Pass$435
Accommodations$1,750 ($125 per day)
Local transportation$140
Attractions$120
Food$560 ($40 per day)
Random spending$200
TOTAL$4,005 USD

The above estimates are in US dollars for a 14-day trip. Use XE.com to see the exchange of your home currency. Since these are just estimates, there are actually a few ways to save which I’ll detail below.

The 2 most important sites you’ll use when planning a trip to Japan are; Japan Guide which covers everything you need to know about Japan and Hyperdia which details train schedules, routes, and pricing.

Airfare

$800 is the average cost of airfare from the US direct to Tokyo. It’s possible to save $100-300 if you get a seat sale or you’re willing to take a stopover. Note that Tokyo has 2 major airports; Haneda which is closest to the city and Narita which is 1.5 hours outside of Tokyo. If given the choice, pick Haneda since it is located much closer, but note that many international flights only go to Narita. If you’re flying from other parts of the world, prices will either be more expensive or cheaper than my estimates.

If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Gold Rewards Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $300 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, a sign up bonus worth $300 and it comes with airport lounge access.   

Japan rail pass

JR passes are essential if you plan on travelling across Japan. They allow you unlimited use of Japan Rail trains for 7, 14, or 21 days. The ordinary pass is what most travellers get, but if you want more luxury and service you can get the green pass. The prices of JR passes change depending on the exchange rate so the below prices may be off by a few dollars.

  • 7 days – Ordinary $275, Green $370
  • 14 days – Ordinary $440, Green $600
  • 21 days – Ordinary $565, Green $780

The general rule is that the 7-day pass is only worth it if you make a return trip to Kyoto from Tokyo and you use the Narita Express. For the 14 day pass, you need to go as far as Hiroshima to get your money’s worth. The passes can be activated at any time so if you’re in Japan for just 10 days, you could purchase a 7-day pass and activate it on day 3. If you’ll be spending your time just in Tokyo, then the pass has no real value to you. Note that JR passes must be ordered from an authorized agent BEFORE you enter Japan. If you want to learn more about JR Passes, read my Japan Rail pass guid.

Local transportation 

A JR pass won’t get you everywhere. JR mainly operates on surface lines so if you need to take the subway, you’re actually using a different operator. The good thing is that public transportation isn’t that expensive in Japan and it’s easy to pay for it by using one of the seven prepaid IC card e.g. Suica, Pasmo, ICOCA. They don’t offer you any discounts but they’re compatible with each other so you can use any of them in major areas of Japan. Many shops, vending machines and even restaurants accept IC cards as payment, making them very convenient.

It’s also worth noting that some cities offer their own transportation passes such as Kyoto where you can get to all major tourist attractions by using just the Raku bus. From time to time, you may want to take a taxi which isn’t cheap, nor do I consider them expensive.

Day trips – The JR Pass will get you across Japan, and IC cards are useful in major areas but when you take day trips to outer areas you’ll need to pay for the private lines to get there. Most people will use their JR pass to get them as close to the location as possible and then transfer to the private lines. Popular areas such as Hakone, Koysan, and Mt. Fuji will require extra payment but most of these areas have their own day passes which offer good value. My estimate above combines local transportation and day trips.

Asakusa Temple in Tokyo - Japan on a Budget

Japan Accommodations

Like everywhere else in the world, Japan has a wide range of accommodations available. You could stay at a capsule hotel or you could stay at a luxury brand hotel. The choice is totally up to you. Despite the different types of accommodations available, space is typically at a premium in Japan. What that means is that your room will likely be small. I personally don’t have an issue with that, but if you’re trying to find something that fits four people, that may be tricky. Below are the different types of accommodations available to you.

Hostels

Hostels are usually the cheapest option wherever you stay, but in Tokyo, prices can go as high as $50 a night. They’re a little cheaper in other cities such as Kyoto. Check out my Tokyo hostel guide for the best hostels in Tokyo. 

Japan hostel recommendations:

Capsule hotels

This seems to be a novelty thing but they are still quite popular. Capsule hotels offer decent amenities, they just happen to cram everything into your capsule. A one night stay will cost you about $30-$75 per person. Note that quite often a 2-3 Star hotel may actually be cheaper than a capsule hotel. Check out my guide to the best capsule hotels in Tokyo for some inspiration.

Japan capsule hotel recommendations:

Mid-range hotels

Generally speaking, you’re looking at about $125 a night for a 3-4 star hotel. You can easily save quite a bit of money on hotels in Japan by simply staying at smaller hotel chains or in areas just outside of popular districts. The transit in Japan is so good that it really doesn’t matter where you stay. Here’s a list of cheap hotels in Tokyo that I recommend to people.

Japan mid-range hotel recommendations:

Luxury hotels

If you’re looking for something fancier, you’ll have no problem finding name brand hotels in every major city. If you’re going to go this route, you could easily pay double if not more of the cost of a mid-range hotel.

Japan luxury hotel recommendations:

Ryokans

Ryokans are popular since they can give you a traditional Japanese experience. There are different types of ryokans so prices can range from $80-$400 a night. Ryokans usually have shared washrooms and some charges per person so double check what is offered before paying.

Japan ryokan recommendations:

Apartments

Japan recently introduced new laws that limit short-term rentals. Airbnb is still a popular choice, but note that owners need to be licensed to rent out their homes so beware of any listings that tell you not to talk to neighbours. A better choice would be to rent a legal apartment or a hotel that comes with a kitchenette. This option is great for groups or families who need more space. Prices can vary quite a bit so check out my guide to the best apartments in Tokyo.

Japan apartment recommendations: 

Airbnb prices can range anywhere from $50-$300 a night depending on your requirements. I used Airbnb almost exclusively for my Japan trip and have found apartments in good areas for $100-150 a night. That saved me about $800 compared to the average estimated budget. One thing to note about Airbnb, Japan recently introduced laws regulating short term accommodations. I would avoid any listing that says “do not talk to neighbours” or “say you are my friend visiting.” If you haven’t used Airbnb before, use my invite and get a $45 credit towards your first stay.

If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. For example, Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite Mastercard since it typically has a sign up bonus of $250 when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. This card does have an annual fee of $150 but it’s normally waived for the first year so you’re getting $250 for free. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.

Piss alley, Tokyo

Food and drink

Food is relatively inexpensive in Japan, but it can also certainly add up if you’re constantly treating yourself or you’re looking to try the best food in the city. As a rough budget, consider the following costs for each meal.

  • Breakfast – $7
  • Lunch – $12
  • Dinner – $21

Realistically speaking you could easily eat for less than I listed a day, but with fresh sushi, Kobe beef, takoyaki, okonomiyaki and so many other yummy things to eat, I prefer to have a decent food budget.

Breakfast is often included in many hotels and hostels. It’ll be a simple breakfast, but it should last you until lunch. Alternatively, bakeries sell fresh buns for less than $2 which makes a good breakfast or snack. Also, keep in mind that convenience stores in Japan have decent food at really low prices. Seriously, you could get a bento box or a sandwich for less than $5. Heck, a good bowl of authentic ramen will set you back less than $10 a bowl at some of the most popular chains.

Even though the robot restaurant in Tokyo is clearly aimed at tourists, I actually quite enjoyed it. Keep in mind that this isn’t really a restaurant, it’s more of a show that happens to serve snacks.

Tasting local cuisines is a life experience and it’s something you shouldn’t cheap out on. $40 a day is a good estimate, but depending on the type of traveller you are, you may spend more or less.

One other thing that I should mention is that depending on what region you’re in, there are usually local delicacies such as matcha in Kyoto and Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima.

Pocket WiFi

You may want to consider picking up a portable WiFi while in Japan since it makes travelling more convenient when you have access to Google Maps live. Prices vary depending on how many days you need the WiFi for and how much data you need, but overall, prices are quite reasonable at $4.65 USD to $7.80 USD per day. Sakura Mobile offers both a SIM card and portable WiFi which allows you to have up to 15 devices connected. Their service is reliable and it’s rather convenient to pick up or have the WiFi delivered to you. Drop off is also easy. See below for the different plans and prices.

Attractions

Although Japan has many free attractions, you’ll eventually have to pay for some things. Temples only charge a few hundred yen, and museums cost just a touch more, but if you decide to go see a sumo match or visit a theme park, the costs do add up fast. My estimate of $120 assumes that you’re just paying the admission to the major temples, parks, and museums.

If you plan on doing Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Studios in Osaka, or some of the paid observation decks in various cities, you could easily spend a few hundred dollars on attractions. To be honest, theme parks in Japan are reasonably priced compared to other theme parks around the world, but I find paying for some observation decks to be a bit expensive. 

Always try to buy your attraction tickets in advance as you’ll be able to skip the lines. This can make a huge difference since some attractions can get quite busy at certain times of the year.

Some of the more popular attractions you should considering pre-purchasing your tickets include:

Random spending

This is the one area people that people tend to underestimate or rather not budget for at all. You will shop when travelling. It could be for souvenirs, gifts for family, or things for yourself, so you might as well put some money aside. Also, most people who go to Japan will spend on random things they don’t normally spend on e.g. arcade games, Buddhist charms, karaoke. If you’re the type who likes to shop, you may want to budget a little more.

Final thoughts

Japan can be done on the cheap, but if you’re going to travel all the way to Japan, it’s best to have a proper budget in place. The last thing you want is to miss out on experiences because you didn’t budget properly. For more tips on how to save in Japan, check out my Tokyo on a budget guide. Alternatively, read my guides on Hong Kong, Vietnam, Southeast Asia and Malaysia for more inspiration. 

More stories on Japan

How Much Does it Cost to Go to Japan?

162 Comments

  1. Tawcan on April 8, 2015 at 12:31 PM

    If you have the JR rail pass you can try taking JR trains when in Tokyo as much as possible and walk to reduce the amount of subway usage.

    • Barry Choi on April 8, 2015 at 1:48 PM

      Tawcan,

      Yes the JR Yamanote line will be very handy but I will need to take some of the private lines from time to time.

    • Rob on March 28, 2020 at 11:41 PM

      Is $800 airfare round trip? Thanks

      • Barry Choi on March 29, 2020 at 9:06 AM

        Hi Rob,

        Yes, but that’s just an estimate. Things will differ depending on where you’re flying from.

  2. Chonce on April 8, 2015 at 1:34 PM

    Sounds like it costs quite a bit to travel to Japan but I like how you organized everything and accounted for several expenses that most people tend to overlook or underestimate when planning a trip. I think it’s crucial to lay everything out and create a realistic list of expenses and budget before planning a trip. It’s funny, I studied Japanese in high school and I was in this program where they had us fundraise and save money to travel to Japan and live with a host family junior year. Unfortunately my family moved and I had to leave the program before the group started planning the trip so Japan is still on my travel bucket list.

    • Barry Choi on April 8, 2015 at 1:50 PM

      Chonce,

      Japan is one of the most expensive countries I’ve ever visited but there are ways to save. I just recommend people to have a realistic budget, after all why travel that far and cheap out on your experience. Japan is definitely a must go, I’m excited to be heading back after 7 years.

      • Bea on September 2, 2019 at 11:51 AM

        Can give me an idea if how much per day the budgeted can cost my travel in Japan. Im landing to osaka.

        • Barry Choi on September 2, 2019 at 8:33 PM

          Bea,

          This post already goes over what you should expect to pay for hotels, food and transportation. You can adjust things based on what you plan on seeing.

    • Yan on October 26, 2017 at 6:23 AM

      I found a ticket to Japan for 508$ from LA. I used Hotwire for my hotels and found 3-5 star hotels for 600$ a whole week. Split it with another person and that is 300$ for a week. I just budgeted Tokyo for a week for less than 1000$. Saves a lot for food and shopping.

      I am not sure where he is getting his numbers. If you do some research and wait for deals you will get it cheaper.

      • Barry Choi on October 26, 2017 at 9:09 AM

        Yan,

        Jeebus, $508 is half the price of what a flight would cost me from Toronto.

        The numbers I use are strictly “average” prices. I’m not factoring in waiting for deals. Throughout the article I state that there are many ways to save.

      • Michael Smith on February 14, 2018 at 4:57 PM

        Me too, I took a two week trip to Japan for two for approximately 3,000 USD. The hotel was 45 USD per night and the flight was 700 USD per person. I only got the rail pass for 7 days, not 14 since I wanted to spend a large amount of time in Tokyo. I am a bit of a bargain hunter and like to make a sport out of finding bargains too. I thought that food was actually the most difficult thing to budget and it was more expensive and tasty than most other places. But, the food was so amazingly good so you get an amazing culinary experience.

        • aliyah M Hill on January 16, 2020 at 9:30 PM

          Hi, can tell me where you booked your flight and hotel?

      • Brittany on April 10, 2018 at 10:46 AM

        same, flight was 750 USD per person and hotel was 440 USD for 7 nights split between two of us thats 220 USD.

        • Barry Choi on April 10, 2018 at 10:47 AM

          I wish flights to Japan from Canada were that cheap. Keep in mind that my numbers are just averages. There are plenty of ways to save while in Japan.

  3. Belinda Brown on April 8, 2015 at 4:28 PM

    Excellent article Barry! You’ve given me a lot to think about. Japan is definitely on the bucket list. Now I need to convince Rob to go. Lol
    Any tours that aren’t crazy expensive?

    • Barry Choi on April 8, 2015 at 4:29 PM

      Belinda,

      Japan is one of those places that’s probably best done on your own. There are a few decent tour companies but the costs will probably be similar to the estimates I’ve given.

  4. Virna on April 8, 2015 at 5:30 PM

    Great post Barry! Thanks for giving us the breakdown and what costs to expect when going to Japan. I agree to budget more for food and not to cheap out. Very informative….two thumbs up!

    • Barry Choi on April 8, 2015 at 6:03 PM

      Virna,

      One great tip to save on food is to eat cheap during breakfast and lunch, then go crazy on dinner.

      • Susan on July 10, 2017 at 2:21 AM

        Hi, I heard the opposite that dinner costs tend to be more expensive than lunch?

        • Barry Choi on July 10, 2017 at 8:57 AM

          Dinner is indeed more expensive, but there are so many inexpensive options available. e.g. you can get a bowl or ramen for about 900 – 1000 Yen.

  5. Financially Fabulous on April 8, 2015 at 8:03 PM

    Barry,
    I haven’t begun my foray into budget travelling yet but Japan is one of the few places on my bucket list!
    Is it easy to navigate over there in English?
    All the best with your upcoming trip!!

    • Barry Choi on April 8, 2015 at 8:06 PM

      Financially Fabulous,

      The last time I was in Japan I found that many people did NOT speak English. They usually understand you, but the Japanese are shy about speaking English. That being said most signs are in English and there are many websites to help you navigate so it’s not nearly as intimidating as other countries.

    • CeCe Lee on October 19, 2019 at 4:44 PM

      Would prices changed or recommended links still be valid 4 years later???

      • Barry Choi on October 19, 2019 at 8:09 PM

        Hi Cece,

        I update this post every few months so the prices should be pretty accurate still.

  6. Melissa on April 10, 2015 at 11:15 PM

    Wow Barry, this is so comprehensive! I definitely want to visit Japan one day, as some friends have visited and they rave about it. It’s so unlike anywhere I’ve ever traveled to. I would LOVE to stay in a capsule hotel! I’ve read about them on CNN Travel and I’m so up for that. I’m a small person (under 5’3) and travel light, so I think I could do it. My 6’2 fiance on the other hand… he’d have to stay in an AirBnB haha 🙂

    • Barry Choi on April 10, 2015 at 11:33 PM

      Melissa,

      I did just Tokyo 7 years ago so I’m excited to be going back. There are ways to save money in Japan but I always recommend budgeting extra. Capsule hotel is a one night thing just to say you did it. I found some great Airbnbs for $100-130 a night so I’m excited.

  7. NZ Muse on April 20, 2015 at 11:01 PM

    Wooot! I’m actually planning our own Japan trip for later this year. We are huge foodies so expect to spend a fair bit on food, and also probably want to visit Osaka/Kyoto so 2x rail passes will push the cost up. Not keen on capsule hotels but definitely want a night in a ryokan.

    • Barry Choi on April 20, 2015 at 11:16 PM

      NZ Muse,

      I may need to revise my food budget for the same reason. I just booked a robot restaurant which is $65 per person. Kobe steak for lunch is about $40. I don’t mind going over budget since Japan has so many unique things.

  8. Steven Zussino on April 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM

    Barry, great post!

    One of the places I have always wanted to visit but I am not sure about the big crowds. I think the countryside would be spectacular. I agree with you that you don’t travel all that way to scimp on anything.

    • Barry Choi on June 7, 2015 at 11:18 AM

      Steve,

      I just returned from the trip and had an amazing time. So glad I got to some of the smaller places but next time I go I want to visit the country too.

  9. Cheryl on June 7, 2015 at 11:16 AM

    Hi Barry….we’re heading to Japan in a couple weeks for a month with our kids (10, 12). I used to live/work there 25 years ago….and am excited to show off my old stomping grounds. I see you did the Robot Restaurant. Wondering if it’s appropriate for kids. I can’t seem to to get a sense with online reviews. I saw girls swinging upside down on poles in their bikini’s on one youtube video :). As for travel budget in Japan…Yikes…so expensive…but so worth it. We are doing a combination of self-directed travel and then joining a travel group for families only (Intrepid out of Australia). Another cost consideration for families is that it is extremely rare to have quad rooms in Japan, so if you don’t want to book two hotel rooms for a family of four, book hotel EARLY (as in 7-8 months prior) to get the one quad room in the hotel, or do an airbnb. Food can be cheap if you speak with locals and find their faves. Cheap noodle places abound and take plastic bowls and spoons and just eat cereal for breakfast in your room. Japan is worth the expense – it’s super safe, people are lovely/polite and it offers a travel experience that is truly unique.

    • Barry Choi on June 7, 2015 at 11:58 AM

      Cheryl,

      The robot “restaurant” is more of a musical show so I think it’ll be fine for your kids. Airbnb is definitely the way to go for families, I did Airbnb in Tokyo and Kyoto and had a great time.

      • rhoda on March 30, 2016 at 8:36 PM

        hello barry,

        what’s the name of the place where you stayed in Tokyo and Kyoto? thanks much..

        • Barry Choi on March 30, 2016 at 8:39 PM

          Hi Rhoda,

          I actually stayed with Airbnb in both Tokyo and Kyoto. It was about $100 a night for a small room that slept 2.

          I stayed in the Ebisu area of Tokyo and near Kyoto station in Kyoto.

  10. Paige on January 11, 2016 at 1:32 AM

    Me and my friends wanted to go here the summer of our graduation from high school ….. time to start saving

    • Barry Choi on January 12, 2016 at 9:48 AM

      Paige,

      Start saving a little every month and you’ll have that money soon enough!

  11. Nathan on February 14, 2016 at 1:46 AM

    Hey Barry what is the best to save up for a yearly trip or two year for a week or 2

    • Barry Choi on February 14, 2016 at 8:48 AM

      Nathan,

      I recommend to just make your savings automatic. So say you plan on spending $3K a year on travel, that’s $250 a month you need to set aside. Try to set up an automatic withdrawal so that goes right into your vacation account. If you’re new to budget be sure to track your spending first so you can make some adjustments. Here’s some other tips for budgeting / saving.

      https://www.moneywehave.com/7-common-money-mistakes-to-avoid-when-trying-to-save/

  12. Zianni Perilla on February 26, 2017 at 4:07 AM

    Hey Barry,

    I was confused as to what the difference between the estimated costs and the notes are? Are the notes for an individual and the estimated costs per couple? Or was the estimated costs by person (individual)?

    • Barry Choi on February 26, 2017 at 6:00 PM

      Hi Zianni,

      The estimated cost assumes two people who’re evenly splitting all costs. Notes breaks down things individually or references other things.

  13. Rahul on March 11, 2017 at 4:11 PM

    Room for $100 per night through AirBnb .Isn’t this very expensive?
    I checked AirBnb price in Tokyo .Some of the rooms cost just Rs1000(Around USD $15 ).

    Rahul from India

    • Barry Choi on March 11, 2017 at 4:51 PM

      Rahul,

      It depends on your definition of expensive. For North Americans and compared to hotels, $100 CAD for a private apartment is of good value – especially in a good location.

      You can definitely get a room (not private apartment) for $15USD in other locations of Tokyo which is definitely cheap. It just depends what your standards are.

  14. Rahul on March 11, 2017 at 5:16 PM

    Oh a private apartment is good for families..But for backpackers like me a single room will do just fine.

    • Barry Choi on March 11, 2017 at 9:07 PM

      Rahul,

      Japan has some pretty good hostels too. I’ve never stayed at any but from what I understand, there’s quite a bit of selection (in the major cities).

  15. RAHUL on March 18, 2017 at 3:19 PM

    Thanks .you can provide the link the link for good hostels inmajor cities of JAPAN?

    And i am planning to travel for 14-16 days .Which cities should i travel since i cant cover entire JAPAN in just 16 days .
    Ofcourse i will be landing in Tokyo.

    I dont have financial constraints but i want to spend as little as possible on stay and transpiortaion

  16. RAHUL on March 18, 2017 at 3:21 PM

    And i want to spend some tiome in countryside .Not a big fan of city life.So which places i can hang around

    • Barry Choi on March 18, 2017 at 5:45 PM

      Your second comment technically contradicts your first one but I’ll try to give you some suggestions. With 14-16 days most people will go to Tokyo –> Kyoto –> Hiroshima –> Tokyo. Many also do side trips along the way to Kamakura, Nikko, Hakone, Osaka, Nara, Koyasan, and Hiroshima.

      Those places aren’t exactly the country but it’s a good place to start. I recommend checking out Japan Guide for more ideas.
      http://www.japan-guide.com/

      As for hostels, there are many in each major city, but I did not stay in any so I can’t advise you there.

  17. Helen on April 18, 2017 at 5:32 PM

    Very accurate! We spend about $7700 USD for 15 days for two people. That’s with mostly Airbnb and one night at a Ryokan as a treat. Airfare, JR passed, transportation, food, etc. included.

    • Barry Choi on April 18, 2017 at 5:37 PM

      Hey Helen,

      Thanks for sharing! I bet that was money well spent.

  18. Helen on April 18, 2017 at 5:34 PM

    *passes

    • Ronak on August 29, 2019 at 2:53 PM

      Hey it was such a wonderful article. I can’t wait to visit Japan.
      I am planning to visit Japan in February along with my wife and infant son( 17 months old).

      What precautions should we take as it is winter, and travelling with an infant.

      Also we are Vegan. So what food can we get there??

      Ronak.

  19. Sylvie on June 9, 2017 at 2:11 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Our family will be visiting Tokyo soon and I would like to make use of your airbnb invite for saving CAD $50.00. However, could you tell me how does it work? I do have an airbnb account but I have never used airbnb before. Am I still qualify? Also, do I get the $50.00 off right away for this trip or is it a credit for future travel?

    • Barry Choi on June 9, 2017 at 2:38 PM

      Hi Sylvie,

      If you already have an Airbnb account, you won’t be able to take advantage of my referral link.

      • Jessica on December 25, 2019 at 4:56 AM

        I’m getting ready to go to Japan in May! I’m lucky enough to go through school and have 2 weeks of classes and accommodations and such for 900 cad, not including lunches and transportation. I’ll be going for 2 weeks by myself afterwards. You mentioned Jr pass for Tokyo and walking and I’ve so heard that riding a bike is very easy and amazing in Japan, so that will help sightsee and also save on bus fare! I’m looking forward to getting very cheap places to stay in, and maybe a ryokan as well! I hope to be able to go for roughly 3000 cad but your budget shown seems like I’ll have to save some more. I hope to take the train all over, like up to hokkaido and down south, would that be a waste of time due to long train times? I’ll only have 2 weeks to explore by myself. I heard you need to plan your accommodation before you enter the country because customs will check that as you arrive, is that true for the entirety of the trip do you know?
        Sorry if I’m rambling, I’m very very excited! My grandpa says he wants to fly over and visit me while I’m there because he misses Japan, he thinks okinawa is one of the best cities in the world (he used to be an airline pilot).

        • Barry Choi on December 25, 2019 at 5:22 AM

          Jessica,

          THE JR pass is only needed if you’re travelling around the country. Renting a bike is definitely an option but it may get tiring and obviously it’ll take longer to get around as opposed to taking the train or bus.

          There are plenty of ways to save in Japan. A lot of capsule hotels have female only areas which is an easy option to help you save. Obviously hostels are a cheap alternative by the local hotel brands such as mystays and APA are also affordable.

          I don’t recall customers ever checking my accommodations on arrival. You may want to double check on tripadvisor.

          I’ve also heard great things about Okinawa but I have not been.

  20. Sylvie on June 9, 2017 at 3:34 PM

    Hi Barry, thanks for your prompt reply. Another question for you: How much cash do you recommend we bring for our 10 day trip to Japan at a minimum? Do most places accept credit card? Also, where would I get the best exchange rate for Yen? Here in Canada or in Japan? Thanks.

    • Barry Choi on June 9, 2017 at 3:39 PM

      Sylvie,

      Most places do accept credit cards, but you’ll also find that Japan is a very cash based society. E.g. many restaurants have those vending machines where you must insert cash to purchase your food voucher.

      How much cash you need is a bit of a tougher question to answer since it depends on how much you plan to spend. I personally brought with me about $500 CAD (roughly 50,000 yen) with me, but then I just withdrew money as I needed it from local ATMs. Note that many Canadians have reported that their debit cards only work at Japan Post machines so be sure to mark off those locations on your map.

      I always just withdraw money when I’m abroad since you get the spot rate with just a 2.5% currency exchange fee added. If your home bank charges you to when using international ATMs, just withdraw the maximum every time.

  21. Sylvie on June 9, 2017 at 3:36 PM

    We are a family of 3 with one 8 year-old.

  22. sylvie on June 9, 2017 at 3:49 PM

    Thanks for your information!

  23. Avea on June 22, 2017 at 8:56 PM

    hello I’m only 13 years old but I’ve been wanting to go to Japan for so long and I love everything about Japan to style to culture and I was wondering ,when do I start saving up money for Japan and how much because I know I can’t get a job yet and I don’t get chore money …lol but ,I’ve always wanted to go. Please give me advise on what I should do and start doing to help me get at that point where I can go. Thanks for reading! :3

    • Barry Choi on June 22, 2017 at 8:59 PM

      Hi Avea,

      The fact that you have a goal of going to Japan is something to be proud of. Sure you don’t have a job now, but when you get one later, save as much as you can for your trip. If you currently get birthday or Christmas money, save that too. Since you love everything about Japan, you could start learning Japanese in your spare time. It’s not necessary to know the language to visit, but it’s a way to keep you connected to the country.

  24. […] Most individuals attempt to go to Japan in April when it’s cherry blossom season however come within the fall for an explosion of autumn colors. Since Tokyo is a concrete jungle, you’ll have to go to the parks to see the foliage, however when you get out of the town, you’ll be blown away. The Fuji 5 Lakes area is without doubt one of the finest spots to view the autumn colors, plus you possibly can take pleasure in a dip in one of many many sizzling springs. Kyoto can be a fantastic place since you possibly can just about stroll in any path and discover temples and timber to marvel at. Of specific be aware is the world of Arashiyama in Kyoto. Throughout the fall, the well-known bamboo forest performs second fiddle to the crimson maple timber discovered within the valley. Need to know the perfect factor about Japan? It’s surprisingly affordable. […]

  25. […] Most people try to visit Japan in April when it’s cherry blossom season but come in the fall for an explosion of autumn colours. Since Tokyo is a concrete jungle, you’ll have to head to the parks to see the foliage, but once you get out of the city, you’ll be blown away. The Fuji Five Lakes region is one of the best spots to view the fall colours, plus you can enjoy a dip in one of the many hot springs. Kyoto is also a great place since you can pretty much walk in any direction and find temples and trees to marvel at. Of particular note is the area of Arashiyama in Kyoto. During the fall, the famous bamboo forest plays second fiddle to the crimson maple trees found in the valley. Want to know the best thing about Japan? It’s surprisingly affordable. […]

  26. Charlotte on September 8, 2017 at 9:57 AM

    I want to take my two sons and husband with me to japan. He loves cars ANF the drift scene. I love the cultural history and festivals. More of the traditional beauty that Japan has preserved. I want to visit cat island there is so much that I want to do in japan. But I can’t determine how to fit so much wonderful stuff in a trip to Japan and to make it cost effective. Do you have any tips for family size travel there? And for such differing interests? How could we balance his love of cars with my love of shrines and temples.

    • Barry Choi on September 8, 2017 at 10:03 AM

      Charlotte,

      I know EXACTLY what you mean about trying to balance differing interests. My best suggestion is to pick a logical route and find things that suit all your tastes. Cat island is a bit north and out of the way, so I would eliminate that, BUT maybe do a cat cafe in Tokyo instead? As for cars, in Tokyo there’s a Toyoto automobile museum and MarioKart experience. Nagoya has a huge yearly car show and they also have the Toyota factory that gives tours. Nagota is between Tokyo and Kyoto. Kyoto will give you access to some of the best temples in the country. I think you’ll find a balance, you’ll just both need to make some sacrifices.

      Here’s a one week itinerary I wrote.

      https://www.moneywehave.com/one-week-in-japan/

  27. Nishi on October 27, 2017 at 12:50 AM

    Where the hell are you people staying that cost $200 per night? I’ve always found hotels for around $50 to $60 a night in Tokyo.

    • Fernan on November 20, 2017 at 4:10 PM

      Agree wholeheartedly. This is a budget discussion of people who are less informed about options. Although I do have a preference for high end accommodation, I am certain there are other less costlier options well below $200. I use Agoda and I see a lot of sub-200 offers.

      • Barry Choi on November 20, 2017 at 4:14 PM

        Oh for sure, there are plenty of reasonably priced places in Japan. It really depends on location and what type of accommodations you’re willing to accept. I used strictly averages for this estimate.

  28. Aditya on November 8, 2017 at 10:37 AM

    Barry – I was just casually checking out Japan (didn’t intend to travel due to prohibitive costs), however, after reading your article and everything you’ve said in the comments, I think perhaps a trip sometime in the next 2-3 years would indeed be possible/feasible.

    Thanks a ton for igniting the thought 🙂

    • Barry Choi on November 8, 2017 at 10:39 AM

      Aditya,

      Thanks for the feedback. I warn you now, once you go, you’ll be itching to go back. Japan is one of the few countries I’ve been to where I constantly want to go back.

  29. Payne on January 22, 2018 at 9:17 AM

    I’ll re-iterate what others have mentioned and what the story writer also mentioned in his article.

    You can get by with a much smaller dollar amount than that, if you plan ahead and have someone that can read/write Japanese for you.

    I started paying real close attention to the travel comparison websites about 8 months prior to our expected travel date. From watching on an almost daily basis, in 2016 I got airline tickets from Atlanta to Tokyo for $1200 apiece; for our trip in April, we got tickets for $927. For both trips, the tickets were for major, North American based airlines. On our first trip, the international leg was handled by ANA, and there is a chance that our international leg for our April trip will be handled by JAL. ANA and JAL have great reputations for customer service, and from our experience with ANA, it’s justified.

    For our housing, my friend (who is literate in Japanese to about a 9th grade level) made use of sites like Trip Adviser to find people who rented out apartments to tourists. His ability to communicate in Japanese made it much easier to find and book inexpensive apartments. In 2016, we had an apartment in Harajuku (about a 10 minute walk from Harajuku station) that was $80.00 per night, total. Of course, it was a simple “apaato” style apartment with no frills, but we didn’t really do much more than sleep there, so we weren’t worried. The cost for 9 nights was $360 per person. We also got a couple of nights in Osaka in a nicer apartment (“mansho” style) about a 15 minute walk from Osaka Castle Park that was a little under $100 per night, total (two nights was a bit under $100 per person). So, for eleven nights of rental (we were in country for 9 nights, but had an overlap for the trip to Osaka), the cost was about $450 apiece. For our upcoming trip that will be twelve nights, the cost is going to be about the same. We have an apartment in Shibuya about a ten minute walk from Shibuya station for six nights and an apartment in Osaka about a five minute walk from Osaka Castle Park for six nights, and the total price is about $600 per person in total.

    We had the Green pass in 2016 when we traveled, and the only time we needed to pay extra to use a train was in Osaka when one of our destinations required us to use the Keio train system. It was about $3.00 total to travel there and back on that train. In Tokyo and Osaka, you can get just about anywhere you might want to go on JR trains, and most individual trips on commuter trains are only a dollar or two.

    Food was actually far less expensive than I had expected, but soft drinks at restaurants are hugely expensive. You can go to a place and get katsukare or omuraisu for what amounts to $7.00, but the Sprite costs almost $3.00. That’s with a vending machine being across the street selling the same drink for $1.50. Sure, if you want, you can find far more expensive dining experiences, like going crazy at a kaitenzushi place or finding one of the Michelin starred restaurants in the city. But, if you’re on a budget, you never need to spend much more than $10.00 on any single meal, and you can get far cheaper ($3-4.00) if you go on a convenience store diet. Don’t get put off by that; convenience store food in Japan is for real. The Seven-Eleven chain in major cities has fresh food deliveries three times per day. If you haven’t experienced it before, it’ll put the hot dogs and donuts that you see at North American convenience stores completely to shame.

    For comparison, on our 2016 trip, my total cost for nine nights in Tokyo/Osaka (we had an overlap for our two days in Osaka), was about $2500. For our upcoming trip in April, our total costs have been about $2100, paying for flights, housing, and train pass. I have about $1000 budgeted for daily expenses for the two weeks, but do not expect to spend it. In 2016, I got $500 converted on the first day, and I had $65.00 left when I got back to Narita airport for the trip home (and that includes having spent $80.00 at Tower Records in Shibuya).

    • Barry Choi on January 22, 2018 at 9:54 AM

      Hi Payne,

      Thanks for the comments. I LOVE everything you said. Prices can come down a fair amount depending on how much research you do. My listed prices are meant to be a rough estimate. You can definitely spend as little or as much as you want!

  30. Rob Branstetter on January 24, 2018 at 11:50 AM

    Barry,

    One thing you seem to have totally skipped is any mention of how handicapped or disabled people fit into the scene of Japanese travel. My wife and I use walkers and have very limited stamina, so we are unable to do a lot of walking or standing and stairs are out of the question. How would this impact our ability to get around inJapan and what impact would it have on our expenses?

    I have the impression that Japanese people do a lot of walking, often on steep slopes or up pathways with steps cut into them. Are there any provisions made for those who simply cannot manage such activities or do they just miss out? I would love to visit Japan, but unless there are affordable ways to get around the limitations imposed by my handicaps, it looks like, at 63, I will have to give up all hopes of ever going.

    Also, how much impact does having a 4-6 year old child with you have on travelling in Japan? My daughter is meeting her husband in Japan this spring (he is temporarily assigned to duty in Korea) and taking their young son with her. Are there ways they can make their visit more fun and enjoyable for all three of them?

    • Barry Choi on January 24, 2018 at 7:44 PM

      Hi Rob,

      Japan has one of the oldest populations in the world and is well equipped to handle anyone with mobility issues. Obviously, it would take you longer to get anywhere, so you’d have to limit what you actually do on a daily basis. It would likely be best to join an organized tour.

      As for travelling with a child. Japan is really kid friendly so it’s really a matter of figuring out what your grandson likes to do. You can find giant robots in Tokyo or go to Tokyo Disney. Kids have crazy imaginations, I’m sure he’ll have a blast.

  31. Justin on February 19, 2018 at 9:04 AM

    I’m going Japan in 2 weeks and I will be staying there for a week . I already got myself a room to stay and I only have a 1000 to spend . Do you think it’s enough to last me a week and still enjoy myself

    • Barry Choi on February 19, 2018 at 10:34 AM

      Hi Justin,

      Assuming you have your train tickets and accommodations booked, that will likely last you the trip. Mind you, you’ll have to track your spending as food costs can add up, but you could easily spend less than $30 a day. Attraction tickets aren’t that expensive, but I’d prioritize the free stuff.

  32. sad sap on March 9, 2018 at 4:02 AM

    $3,730 is a cheap trip? maybe if you make $100,000+/year it is… or value a dollar as if its a penny.

    • Barry Choi on March 9, 2018 at 6:10 AM

      It’s strictly an average estimate. There are plenty of ways to see Japan for cheaper.

    • Delicia Ambrosino on May 16, 2018 at 1:20 PM

      A RT ticket to Australia cost substantially more than a trip to Japan at 3,750$’s that includes expenses. If you’d like to go try doing what my sister did. Every time she received coin when making a purchase she dumped it into a jar. She accumulated over 1,500$’s in one year. Oh, she makes 27,040 a year BEFORE taxes just so you know she doesn’t make 100K a year.

  33. Romain on March 9, 2018 at 6:25 PM

    Hi Barry. How about Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Osaka? Those two are definitely on my must dos and if anything could happen to compromise those two visits, I honestly rather not go to Japan at all. Is going from Tokyo Central to Disneyland difficult, expensive? Do you believe is better to book an acommodation close to the resort than going by public transit there every day I plan on visiting? I do not plan on visiting only amusement parks, so how many weeks do you think I should invest in Japan?

    • Barry Choi on March 9, 2018 at 6:33 PM

      Hi Romain,

      Tokyo Disneyland is only 15mins from Tokyo station so it’s pretty easy to get to. Even if you’re staying on the other side of the city in Shinjuku, it’ll only add 20mins to your commute. In other words, stay anywhere on the JR Yamanote line, and you’ll be fine. Universal Orlando is pretty easy to get to also so I wouldn’t worry that much.

      How much time you spend in Japan is a personal choice and depends on what you want to see and do. 2 weeks is great to get a taste, but honestly, Japan has so many different things to see, you could spend years there and not come close to seeing everything.

  34. michael on March 13, 2018 at 1:32 PM

    Helpful article! But how do i get an IC card?

    • Barry Choi on March 13, 2018 at 1:35 PM

      You purchase them from machines in Japan

      • michael on March 13, 2018 at 1:38 PM

        thank you so much!

  35. Damon Paradise on March 18, 2018 at 9:41 PM

    Excellent breakdown. Japan is in my 5 year plan. Tokyo, Yokosuka, Hiroshima.. I’m ready to see and experience it all.

  36. Susan Cramer on April 16, 2018 at 9:46 PM

    I’m a little confused about the JR pass. I will be travelling round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto and I will be travelling to the far airport from Tokyo. Does it pay to purchase the 7 day JR pass?

  37. Dragan on April 17, 2018 at 9:38 PM

    Hey man,

    Torontonian here as well. I was offered to come to Japan from a friend who was planning to travel there from South Korea (As she teaches English there) and meet in Tokyo. Although she wants to go for two weeks, I have plans to go for only one as my work schedule is constraint and I plan to use other vacation time for different countries. Do you think 1 week is enough to scale out urban and *some* rural parts of Japan? My main interests/priorities are paragliding near Mt. Fuji and bungee jumping at whichever location is closest to Tokyo, as well as typical sight seeing — not really into museums or anything correlated to that.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Barry Choi on April 17, 2018 at 10:08 PM

      Hi Dragan,

      1 week in Japan is doable, but I warn you now, you’ll want to go back right away. Here’s a rough itinerary I wrote that may interest you.

      https://www.moneywehave.com/one-week-in-japan/

      You could easily replace Kyoto with paragliding, but I obviously have no idea where to do that.

      I haven’t done a single museum in Japan, I just enjoy exploring temples and the various cities.

  38. Bryan on May 9, 2018 at 7:52 PM

    How much do you think it would be for 2 people for 2 days in japan ?

    • Barry Choi on May 10, 2018 at 1:33 AM

      Bryan,

      It depends on how much you want to spend. THere are plenty of cheap hotels in Tokyo

      https://www.moneywehave.com/cheap-hotels-in-tokyo/

      That should run you about $100USD a night.

      Local transportation will cost you no more than $10 a day.

      And most sites are free so you’re looking at about $240 + food.

  39. Delicia Ambrosino on May 16, 2018 at 1:09 PM

    My question is this: what would I have to do to bring my prescribed medications through customs/airport….{one is a controlled substance used for anxiety}? Thank you. ~D~

  40. Skye Szajer on June 19, 2018 at 7:50 PM

    Hi,

    I am going to Japan in October from Australia. We are staying a week in Osaka but training from Tokyo – Osaka after our flight – we are training from Osaka- Kyoto for day trip and Osaka – Hiroshima for day trip then I am staying in Tokyo and day tripping to mount Fuji.

    Is it worth the 14 day rail pass or just do these separately .

    • Barry Choi on June 19, 2018 at 8:11 PM

      Hi Skye,

      Are you flying home from Tokyo and will you be in Japan for 14 days total?

      If so, the 14-day pass is worth it since you’re essentially going to Hiroshima and back.

      The JR Pass will also allow you to make other day trips while in Osaka e.g. to Himejij, Kobe, Nara. You could also use it to get to Kamakura or Yokohama while in Tokyo.

  41. […] decides to take a trip to Japan which will cost her $3,000. She charges it to her credit card that has an annual interest rate of […]

  42. Leoncio Perez on November 30, 2018 at 2:22 PM

    Hey where did you get a 800 dollar ticket to Japan because iv seen most tickets cost around the 1000.

    • Barry Choi on November 30, 2018 at 8:01 PM

      Leoncio,

      It really depends on where you live. In my article, I say $800USD as an estimate, but from Toronto (where I live), it’s closer to $1,100 – $1,300 for a ticket.

  43. Ade on February 9, 2019 at 4:34 AM

    Hello Barry

    Thanks for the article and the many conversations after.

    Definitely visiting Japan for 2 weeks and want to experience it all. Saving towards 2020 and want to go in low season less crowd and cheaper.

    Will early December be good?

    Also will it be better to get a travel agency to plan this for me and if so can you recommend any?

    Thanks.

    • Barry Choi on February 9, 2019 at 7:33 AM

      Hey Ade,

      December 2020 will be after the Tokyo Olympics so that’s probably a good time. The weather will obviously be a bit better in September or October.

      It’s pretty easy to plan a trip to Japan on your own, but it also depends on your travel style. There are a lot of great tour operators in Japan too such as Intrepid Travel and G Adventures.

  44. Ade on February 9, 2019 at 11:45 AM

    Thanks Barry.

    Thanks for your prompt response.

    I want to do Tokyo Kyoto/ Osaka Hiroshima Takayama and anywhere else I can fit into 2 weeks. I usually do my travels myself so this will be the 1st I’m thinking of using a travel agency.

    I’m mostly a sightseeing walking person

    So when you say September/ October, why is that?

    • Barry Choi on February 9, 2019 at 6:01 PM

      Ade,

      That’s a pretty standard route so you could easily do things on your own or join a tour. 14 days to do all of those is reasonable and a 14-day JR pass will easily pay for itself.

      I say September or October instead of December because it’s a little warmer.

  45. Armelyn Aguinaldo on February 9, 2019 at 8:49 PM

    hi barry,
    We’ll be having japan trip on april 1-7.. We plan to visit tokyo, kyoto and osaka. How many days would you recommend us in tokyo and kyoto? and will a jr pass for the said trip be really useful and worth it?
    Thanks

    • Barry Choi on February 10, 2019 at 6:14 AM

      Hi Armelyn,

      WIth only a week in Japan, I wouldn’t recommend more than 2 – 3 nights outside of Japan. I’d make Kyoto my base and spend 2 days there with a day trip to Osaka. However, you also need to factor in your travel days. If you land on April first and depart the 7th, that only leaves you 5 full days in Japan. There’s A LOT to do in Tokyo so maybe even just 2 days in Kyoto as a side trip is enough.

      A 7-day JR pass would likely be worth it.

      Here’s a rough 1-week guide I wrote which is busy – https://www.moneywehave.com/one-week-in-japan/

  46. Ade on February 11, 2019 at 1:31 PM

    Thanks Barry so much. Do you have such an itinerary for 2 weeks in Japan?

    Pls can you also recommend a ryokan and a capsule. Just want to include them as something to do and enjoy but not sure which of the cities/places to do them in.

    • Barry Choi on February 11, 2019 at 2:07 PM

      Ade,

      I don’t, but all you really need to do is add a few days to Tokyo and Kyoto. An additional day trip too will easily eat up another week.

      Here’s a list of capsule hotels in Tokyo – https://www.moneywehave.com/the-best-capsule-hotels-in-tokyo/

      • Ade on February 13, 2019 at 4:52 AM

        Thanks Barry and good morning.

        I have checked through your list of hotels. Do hotels do half board, full board or all-inclusive?

        Also I will like to spend the second week elsewhere and not all based in Tokyo. What other central place will you recommend?

        Thank you

        • Barry Choi on February 13, 2019 at 8:12 AM

          Hi Ade,

          What do you mean by half board?

          Ade for the second week most people do a combo of the following Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Koyasan, Himeji, Hiroshima/Miyajima, Takayama, Hakone.

          They obviously don’t do all of that, it’s just some places for you to think about.

          • Ade on February 13, 2019 at 2:16 PM

            HI Barry

            Thank you

            This is what I meant

            Bed & Breakfast mean Lodging + Morning Meal (Breakfast).
            Half Board is Lodging + Breakfast + Dinner
            Full Board is Lodging + Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner in the sequence of your choice.
            All Inclusive include Lodging + All 3 Meals + Drinks

            Are these options available?

            Alos what I meant was for the 2nd week, is there any place else apart from Tokyo that i can stay and do my sightseeing from there?

            Thanks



          • Barry Choi on February 13, 2019 at 2:23 PM

            Ade,

            That’s not common in Japan. Some hotels do offer free breakfast. Food is not that expensive in Japan and it can be found everywhere so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

            Well, you could make Kyoto your base for the second week since it has easy access to Nara, Osaka, and Himeji. Hiroshima/Miyajima is 3 hours away, but doable as a day trip if you left early.



  47. Beth Smith on February 20, 2019 at 9:21 AM

    I am planning a trip some time in April. I will be flying from Ga so my tickets are pretty high. I am thinking of bundling my flight and hotel. My husband and I will be traveling alone but it is a very romantic/luxurious trip. Why would I fly so far to cheap out of my hotel? I am trying to plan a realistic budget for food. We are very health conscious normally but when we take our yearly vacation we take advantage and eat as much yummy food. So I know food will be a huge part of our trip. How does it look money wise eating high/middle end in Japan?

    • Beth Smith on February 20, 2019 at 9:22 AM

      This will be about a 6-7 day trip.

      • Barry Choi on February 20, 2019 at 9:31 AM

        Hey Beth,

        It depends on what kind of high end dining you’re looking for. You can get michelin star sushi or Wagyu beef which will cost you quite a bit, but even basic sushi or ramen in TOkyo tastes fantastic. Also note that some of the famous restaurants get booked months in advance so you should research some spots now to figure out where you’ll eat and how much it’ll cost you.

  48. Elma on March 7, 2019 at 12:56 PM

    Hi Barry,
    came across your blog. We are also from Toronto and are planning to visit Japan for 8 days first week of June for hubby’s 40th bday. Right now the airfare I’m finding is about $1700/ticket even with the seat sale. Is that a lot? or more reasonable? I can’t seem to find anything cheaper that week. Also I do see a lot of posts about using the train system for transport, is car rental inconvenient or discouraged? we were thinking first 3 days Tokyo and then Mt Fuji and then 3 days Kyoto and flying either back from Tokyo or Osaka. but our thought was to rent a car and visit the sites on our own time and have the freedom of a car to stop somewhere in between if needed. Just wondering your thoughts on car rental vs train transit and also the air fare. Any other recommendations for Japan in June? Thank you!

    • Barry Choi on March 7, 2019 at 1:35 PM

      Elma,

      Depending on the week, that sounds typical. I wouldn’t worry too much about it since it’s for your hubby’s 40th.

      Train travel makes more sense in Japan since they go everywhere and are much quicker. For example, it would take you 8-10 hours to drive to Kyoto whereas you can take a train there from Tokyo in 2.

      If you have just a week, I wouldn’t do more than two locations so that would be Tokyo and Kyoto or even Just Tokyo with day trips to Hakone or Mt. Fuji and say Kamakura.

      I’m pretty sure there are no direct flights from Osaka’s airport to Toronto so it would likely be easier to fly back home from Tokyo. If you have the option, fly into Haneda since it’s closer to Tokyo.

      • Elma on March 7, 2019 at 2:30 PM

        Thanks so much for a quick response Barry. I will go ahead and secure the flight first, might come back to you closer to the date if I have any more questions once I’ve done a bit more research.Is it best to post a comment here or another way to contact you?

  49. Cade Miller on March 27, 2019 at 9:34 AM

    I used this resource for a math project about retirement, and thought you ought to know that (Granted this is US inflation not Japan inflation) that the cost might go up to $18,060 in 51 years.

  50. MURUGESAN KARMEGAM on April 9, 2019 at 4:09 PM

    Hi Barry, Thanks for all the info and recommendations. I want to take my family of five ( 2 adults 2 teenagers ( 12 and 18 well adult!) and 1 infant ( 1 year) to give them a great Japanese experience mainly in technology and in culinary. My kids would love culinary and in general culture and technology stuff (robots) and my wife is interested in culture in general and knife chopping (vegetables and fish) lessons as she is crazy about cutting skills in japan). I am wondering what would be your advise?!:) Appreciate any inputs. Planning to fly from IAD (may be via Toronto) for at least 2 to 3 weeks (July /Aug 2019) . My budget is I would say 10 K may be little more.

    • Barry Choi on April 9, 2019 at 6:30 PM

      Murugesan,

      The issue with travelling with 4 people to Japan is that flights, accommodations, and ground transportation will eat up a fair amount of your budget. The good thing is that eating doesn’t have to be expensive, but again, feeding a family of 4 is never “cheap.”

      Your kids won’t be disappointed with any of the food options. Technology is all over the place so you just need to look up what kind of things that would interest them. I honestly can’t comment on knife chopping skills in Japan but there are a few stores that sell legendary Japanese steel knives. With general culture, it’s everywhere, but Kyoto has some of the most temples.

      If you want to keep things within budget, you may want to consider joining a tour. Alternatively, just rent apartments.

  51. MURUGESAN KARMEGAM on April 9, 2019 at 7:58 PM

    Thanks for quick reply I really appreciate it. I know 10k is pretty tight budget may be if I stretch to 13 -15k would be better. I assume Renting apartments would be cheaper! If you have any info on that please me know.

    • Barry Choi on April 9, 2019 at 10:27 PM

      Murugesan,

      Renting apartments might just give you more space. Japan hotel rooms and apartments are typically small so that may be tricky. Just looking at booking.com or Airbnb.com to see what’s available.

  52. Richard Hardy on May 22, 2019 at 3:31 PM

    I love your article, and thank you for taking the time to cover all that you have. My wife and I plan to visit Japan next year as celebration for our new healthy life style change and weight-loss. What would you recommend for a couple who are looking to add more adventure in our visit. We dont really want to be stuck behind a camera, instead we want to experience what Japan has to offer.

    • Barry Choi on May 23, 2019 at 2:10 PM

      Richard,

      Japan has so much variety and great transportation that you can really do anything you want. It’s easy to see temples that are hundreds of years old or to go on a food tour. Japan-guide.com is a great resource for some general ideas. You also need to decide if you want to do things on your own or if you prefer to join a tour.

  53. Himadri Sharma on May 28, 2019 at 12:37 PM

    Hi Barry,
    Great article with a lot of useful things to learn.
    I’m a student in India and I will be traveling soon to Japan as a part of a summer exchange program. It’s a 12-day program. I have already paid for my tickets. My accommodation and food will be paid for by my university in India. I’ll be staying in Chiba and will be going to Disney sea, Akihabara, Asakusa, etc. So I’ll be spending mostly on shopping and maybe food. Also, I’m a pretty cautious spender. How much money do you think will be enough for me to take to Japan for this trip?
    Thank you 🙂

    • Barry Choi on May 28, 2019 at 1:10 PM

      Hey Himadri,

      Food can be relatively inexpensive in Japan e.g. you can get a bento box, ramen, or beef and rice for about $10-$12 Canadian. Convenience stores and bakeries have good and cheap food too. Heck, even some of the conveyor belt sushi is not that expensive.

      If you really only need money for day trips including Disney, I’d say $500 Canadian is enough. Disney Sea alone will be about $120 Canadian. Note that there’s a lot of shopping that can be done in Tokyo so bring a credit card just in case =D

      • Himadri Sharma on May 29, 2019 at 3:10 AM

        Hey!
        Thank you so much for the prompt reply Barry.
        I’m thinking of taking around $1000 USD which is around $1350 CAD. Will that be enough for mainly shopping plus Disney Sea and visiting temples? Another thing I want to tell you is, out of those 12 days, I will be going out for shopping and sight-seeing for roughly 5 to 6 days only.

        • Barry Choi on May 29, 2019 at 7:01 AM

          Himandri,

          You will be just fine with that amount of money. Temples don’t cost any money. Sensojoi is the main temple in Tokyo which has no admission but the street leading up to it will have lots of snacks you’ll want to buy.

          You should have more than enough money left over unless you really like to shop. It really depends on what kind of things you’re looking to buy. Some fun shops to browse include Loft, TokyuHands, and Don Quixote. As for fashion, Shibuya 109 and Shibuya are popular. If you’re into anime, then a trip to AKihabara is a must.

          One other thing you may want to consider spending money on is an animal cafe e.g. an owl cafe.

          • Himadri Sharma on May 29, 2019 at 8:09 AM

            Barry,

            You’ve been a great help! Thank you so much.
            I can’t thank you enough. I was extremely worried about my budget but I feel much better after talking to you. Your prompt replies were a big relief.
            It’s still more than a month to go for my trip. I’m hoping I can turn to you for any other problem I might face.

            Thanks once again!



          • Barry Choi on May 29, 2019 at 8:27 AM

            Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

            Also I meant to say Shibuya109 and Uniqlo and popular for fashion.



  54. Himadri Sharma on June 19, 2019 at 2:09 PM

    Hi Barry
    How are you?
    I’m back for some with one more question!
    I am going to convert 15000 Indian currency to Japanese Yen (which will give me around 22000 JPY).
    I have an International Debit card of a government-run bank here in India in which I’m thinking of carrying the remaining money. Could you please tell me if the card would work there or I’ll have to get a forex card or not?

    • Barry Choi on June 19, 2019 at 3:26 PM

      Hi Himadri,

      With the Tokyo Olympics happening in 2020 just about every convenience store e.g. 7-eleven, Lawson’s etc. have ATMS that accept all international debit cards. In a worst case scenario, look for a Japan Post office as their ATMs have always accepted international cards.

      You should obviously bring a credit card too as a back up.

      • Himadri Sharma on June 20, 2019 at 2:29 AM

        Thank you so much, Barry!
        You’ve helped me a lot with my planning for Japan.
        It’s only 15 days to go now as I’ll be leaving on the 6th of July, and I’m super nervous.
        However your suggestions and answers have really helped in calming my nerves.
        Thank you! 🙂

        • Barry Choi on June 20, 2019 at 8:17 PM

          Himadri,

          I’m really excited about your trip, I hope you report back when you’re there or back. A few areas in Tokyo I enjoy that are off the beaten path include Yanaka Ginza, Daikanyama and kagurazaka.

          • Himadri Sharma on July 4, 2019 at 3:55 AM

            Hi Barry!

            I’m leaving for Japan on Saturday! I have 59000 JPY with me right now. I hope that’s enough for a few days. I’m really excited for my trip.
            I want to thank you for being such a great help. I have asked my friends back in Japan that I want to visit the places you mentioned. I hope to have a great trip.
            I will surely tell you how things went.
            Thank you!



          • Barry Choi on July 4, 2019 at 7:30 AM

            Himadri,

            I’m excited for you! I’m sure you’ll have a blast. I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures.



  55. Jose p Garrido on September 4, 2019 at 10:04 PM

    what about buses between cities is that affordable

    • Barry Choi on September 5, 2019 at 9:37 AM

      Jose,

      They can be, but most people take the trains as they are much quicker.

  56. Amy Walshe on September 20, 2019 at 9:53 AM

    Hi Barry

    Thanks for the helpful article.

    I am planning a trip to Japan this November. This is the intinerary that I would like to do;

    -3 full days in Tokyo, day trip to nikko national park

    -Go to Kawaguchi Ko for a night

    -Travel to Nagano and stay overnight

    -visit the snow monkeys/ go to onsen and stay in shibu onsen

    -Travl to Matsumoto and stay the night

    -Then travel to Kyoto and stay for 3-4 days

    -Then travel to Osaka and stay 3-4 days

    Travel to Hiroshima, stay overnight, visit the Itsukushima shrine

    -train back to Osaka airport to fly out of Japan

    Do you think this is a good itinerary or would you make any recommendations (i.e. to cut down on travel, make it easier? )

    My main question is considering all that travel, and the fact we wouldn’t be activating our JR pass for our first few days in Tokyo, would you recommend we get the 14 or 21 day pass? If so, when would you recommend to activate it?

    Thanks so much in Advance

    • Barry Choi on September 20, 2019 at 10:30 AM

      Hi Amy,

      Looks mostly good. I personally would probably drop Nikko since things over in Kyoto will be similar and it’ll give you more time in Tokyo.

      There’s not that much to do in Osaka so you can probably afford to drop some days there or at least plan some side trips e.g. Nara.

      Overall, it is a lot of travel, but it’s not totally unreasonable. If you don’t mind the travel and you’re not travelling with young children, you’re probably good.

      A 14-day day JR pass is probably worth it, but run your itinerary through Hyperdia.com to see what one-way tickets would cost vs. the pass. You don’t need the JR pass in Tokyo.

  57. Delante on December 22, 2019 at 4:54 PM

    Hey Barry,

    Will a non-exchange fee credit card be enough to do everything you want in Japan, or is it necessary to have some cash to exchange while there? A rule of thumb is to have some cash for emergencies, but I’m mostly curious if you can get by on just credit card only?

    Thanks!

    • Barry Choi on December 22, 2019 at 5:39 PM

      Delante,

      Some places only accept cash so you’ll need some.

      • Delante on December 22, 2019 at 5:44 PM

        Thanks for the quick reply. Great posts by the way.

  58. Priya on January 10, 2020 at 3:52 PM

    Hi Barry,

    After reading your blog, I am more excited to plan a trip to Japan for my husband’s 40 th bday along with our 8 year old son. They love traveling together and will certainly enjoy Japan especially the food. I am planning on a week trip in July 2020 for them. I am sure my husband would like to see Tokyo and Kyoto. Is it possible for them to also see Mt. Fuji in a weeks trip?

    Are the capsule hotels suitable for kids? Is 1 capsule room sufficient for both 1 adult and 1 kid? Thank you so much!
    Regards
    Priya

    • Barry Choi on January 10, 2020 at 7:35 PM

      Hi Priya,

      Here’s a suggested one-week Japan itinerary – https://www.moneywehave.com/one-week-in-japan/

      I wouldn’t advise Mt. Fuji + Kyoto in a week as that’s too much. Another thing to consider, does your son want to see any theme parks? Each Disney theme park in Tokyo (there are 2) could take up a day each. If they plan on doing the theme parks, it may be better to just stay in Tokyo for the week.

      A capsule hotel would not fit two people as it’s basically a single bed in a pod. For cheaper accommodations look for the APA or Mystays brand.

      Here are some budget options – https://www.moneywehave.com/cheap-hotels-in-tokyo/

  59. the sparkster on January 14, 2020 at 6:16 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I have read many of the comments and appreciate all the help you are giving people. I am very interested in a trip, but here is my big question. My wife has had a bad illness and currently has mobility issues, meaning she can walk some, but not a lot, and steps are a bit of a struggle. I can push her around in a wheelchair, if needed. Under those circumstances, will we be able to have a very enjoyable time, or do we need to wait to see if she becomes more mobile and healthier? I don’t want to go if we will have to skip a lot of things because of stairs, tight areas, etc. Thanks.

    • Barry Choi on January 14, 2020 at 7:41 PM

      Sparkster,

      Although many parts of the cities are fully accessible, I think it’s better off for you to wait. The reason I say this is that many of the attractions have stairs. More specifically the temples and shrines will have stairs, a bunch of them. These sites are hundreds of years old and were never built with wheelchairs in mind.

  60. EPM on February 20, 2020 at 12:38 AM

    Hi Barry,
    I am planning a trip to Japan in May. I have the money but am still trying to look for good deals for a hotel and fight for 14 days for two people.
    I saw you mentioned MyStays and APA. Are those still cheaper in relation to others? Prices keep hiking up everytime I check too unfortunately. Any new tips to try and save money on these things so that I have more to spend on food, fun, and gifts?

    Thanks!!

    • Barry Choi on February 20, 2020 at 7:48 AM

      EPM,

      WIth flights, you don’t really have a choice and you’ll need to pay whatever the going rate is. MyStays and APA are two excellent local chains that offer good value. If you want something even cheaper, go to booking.com and just search by price. The further out you’re from the core, the less you’ll usually pay. That said, there are often many budget independent hotels in good locations in the cities.

  61. Lam Tan Le on May 11, 2020 at 2:43 AM

    is this update?

    • Barry.Choi on May 11, 2020 at 7:08 AM

      Lam,

      Yes, it was last updated in January.

  62. Jen on June 27, 2020 at 7:52 PM

    Hi,
    I just wanted to let anyone know that I bought my ticket to Japan for $573 CAD non-stop to Japan Tokyo for 2021 with air Canada. The virus stuff has made travel quite cheap right now and I have wanted to go to Japan for 5 years. I can finally go! I also found some many hostels for $30 CAD (going to be sharing a private room with a friend).

    That means I am paying $573 CAD for round-trip and $224 for my sleeping quarters. $874 CAD to fly and stay in Toyko for 2 weeks! Or roughly $620 USD

    If you have ever wanted to go this is your chance, I booked early and I can save even more money I have almost a year to save too.

    • Barry.Choi on June 27, 2020 at 8:27 PM

      Jen,

      That is insanely cheap. I’ve rarely flown to Europe for that price. Well done! The last time I flew to Japan, I paid about $1,100 CAD.

      Japanese hostels are excellent so I think you and your friend will have an excellent time.

      I’m Canadian so if you have any more questions about Japan, feel free to reach out.

  63. BellMarst on July 16, 2020 at 1:58 AM

    Hello Barry,

    I would love some advice. I have wanted to travel to Japan since I was 15 (that was 11 years ago). I have the money and the drive, and then COVID happened. I want to buy the tickets now since they are very inexpensive, and I have time to plan and save if necessary. However, I have some concerns.

    I found roundtrip with Air Canada for $546 (which is very cheap!) for a 14-day trip in May (I am in NYC). I’ll be traveling with my two brothers, so some of the expenses will be shared. However, this budget plan is for me alone:

    Airfare: $600
    JR Rail Pass: $440
    Accommodations: $1300
    Local Transportation: $140
    Attractions: $200
    Food: $400
    Portable Internet: $40
    Random Spending: $200

    The total is 3320, but I am budgeting and rounding for $4000.

    I am thinking of following this basic itinerary after my research and my interest:
    Tokyo (1-4); Kyoto (5-8); Hiroshima (9-10); Osaka (11-12); Tokyo (13-14)

    I read your guide and have some questions.

    1. First, if I buy the tickets today, and in May 2021, Japan still has some restrictions, such as quarantining foreigners coming from places with COVID for 14 days, can I cancel my flight and get a full refund from the airline? I am afraid to buy the tickets, and then lose the flight and the money or not get the full experience of Japan because of how things are right now.

    2. The other thing is, do you recommend May as a good month to travel to Japan or do you think April is better?

    3. I have insurance from my job, but I don’t know if I have medical coverage when traveling abroad, do you think is really necessary?

    4. Do you think I should make some changes to my itinerary?

    5. Do you think I should buy both the JR Rail Pass and IC Card (Suica)? Does the IC Card work in Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka, and Hiroshima?

    Thank you very much for reading this and giving such great advice. I look forward to your answer.

    • Barry.Choi on July 16, 2020 at 6:24 AM

      BellMarst,

      Yes, flights from Canada to Japan are crazy cheap right now! As for your questions.

      – You need to read the airline refund policies. Generally speaking, Air Canada allows you to bank your ticket cot (minus a rebooking fee) if you need to cancel your flight. Due to COVID, they had been waiving that fee. It really just depends on the situation at that time. My recommendation is to just make sure you can get a refund on everything else (or as much as you can possibly can)

      – I like May because it’s not too hot yet. April is fantastic because of cherry blossom season, but that’s their busiest time of the year.

      – YES, you need medical insurance when travelling, if you have to visit the doctor and need treatment, it could you a few hundred dollars. ANything serious, and it could be thousands. Check with your work travel insurance. Also note that if you own a credit card with travel insurance, you’re covered (check the terms). You can also buy travel medical insurance for your trip and it won’t cost much. **NOTE that many travel insurance providers are not covering COVID right now, you need to check with your provider.

      – I think your itinerary is FANTASTIC. You’ve probably factored in daytrips, but if not, I recommend Nara and Miyajima. I personally find Kyoto more interesting than Osaka but that’s because I prefer culture over food. Koyasan is also worth considering if you want to do something really interesting (you can stay overnight at a monastery).

      – You MUST buy a JR pass and IC Card. The IC Card is more for local transit whereas JR Pass is for bullet trains (and any local JR lines). Yes, the card works in all the different cities so you only need to buy one. **When I last went, my SUICA didn’t work in Hiroshima, but I’m pretty sure it does now as they were making things easier for the olympics.

      If you have any more questions, reach out.

      • BellMarst on July 16, 2020 at 12:27 PM

        Thanks very much for answering. I’d been considering either May or April to travel and since I get a 15-day vacation at work + weekends, I may stay longer than 14 days to give more time to Kyoto and plan other day trips. I’ve been factoring Nara and Miyajima on my plan; Koyasan sounds like a fantastic experience!

        Thanks, again!

        • Barry.Choi on July 16, 2020 at 2:33 PM

          BellMarst,

          Koyasan and Miyajima really were amazing. I didn’t know much about them before I went to Japan so it was really interesting when I arrived. Not sure if you’re into anime, but apparently the cemetery in Koyasan helped inspire Spirited Away.

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