How Much Does it Cost to Go to Japan?

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 expenksive, 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
JR Rail Pass$420
Accommodations$1,610 ($115 per day)
Local transportation$140
Food$420 ($30 per day)
Random spending$200

The above estimates are in US dollars for a 14-day trip. Use 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.

Related: Japan travel blog through pictures: Endless discovery


$800 is the average cost of airfare from the US direct to Tokyo. Itrak’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.

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 $265, Green $350
  • 14 days – Ordinary $420, Green $575
  • 21 days – Ordinary $540, Green $755

The general rule is that the 7-day pass is only worth it if you make a return trip to Kyoto from Tokyo. For the 14 day pass, you need to go as far as Hiroshima to get your money 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.

Related: Japan Rail pass – is it worth it

Purchase your JR Pass now

Local transportation 

Not all metro lines are operated by Japan Rail so you’ll need to supplement your JR pass with some local transportation. You’ll mostly be using non JR lines when outside of Tokyo, but public transportation isn’t that expensive.

The easiest way to pay for your local transportation is 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.

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

The estimated budget above is for the typical traveller. Hotels in Japan can be expensive, that being said, I’ve got a list of cheap hotels in Tokyo. There are also some alternative accommodations you can consider.

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.

Recommendations:  Book and Bed Tokyo (Tokyo), Gojo Guesthouse (Kyoto), Hiroshima Hana Hostel (Hiroshima)

Mid-Range Hotels – Generally speaking, you’re looking at about $115 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.

Recommendations: Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower (Tokyo), Hotel Unizo (Kyoto), Hotel Sunroute Hiroshima (Hiroshima)

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.

Recommendations: The Ritz-Carlton (Tokyo), Four Seasons Hotel (Kyoto), Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel (Hiroshima)

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.

Recommendations: Akihabara Luxury Cityhouse (Tokyo), Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo

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.

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 charge per person so double check what is offered before paying.

Recommendations: Kimi Ryokan (Tokyo), Ebisu Ryokan (Kyoto), Sansui Ryokan (Hiroshima)

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.

Recommendations: Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel (Toky0), Capsule Resort Kyoto Square (Kyoto), Capsule Hotel Cube Hiroshima (Hiroshima)

My preferred booking site is since it lists hotels, apartments, B&B’s, vacation homes and inns. In addition, they price match and you’re not required to pay until after your stay for almost all accommodations. After five bookings, you become a member of their Genius program which gets you an extra 10% off on selected properties. If you haven’t tried, use my affiliate link now to get $25 CAD off your first stay (this applies after you complete your stay).

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 – $5
  • Lunch – $10
  • Dinner – $15

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 with many hotels. It’ll be a simple breakfast, but it should last you until lunch. Alternatively, bakeries sell fresh buns for less than $2 which make 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.

Tasting local cuisines is a life experience and it’s something you shouldn’t cheap out on. $30 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.

 Related: Food in Japan to try

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. See below for the different plans, prices, and features.

Prince and rental periodDelivery and returnWiFi features
Cost for 14 days is:Pick up and drop off to major Japan airportsPre-order 3-5 days prior
Lite plan - $65 USDDelivery to hotels, local addresses, Post Office BranchesLite plan - 300MB per day
Regular plan - $81 USDDelivery to homes and AirBnb allowedRegular plan - 600MB per day
Deluxe plan - $109 USDMail satchel to returnDeluxe plan - 3,000MB per day
Rental Period: Up to 90 daysBattery life up to 20 hours


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 Disney, 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. Why pay $25 to go up the Tokyo Skytree when you can go up the Metropolitan building for free?

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. arcades games, Buddhist charms, karaoke. If you’re the type who likes to shop, you may want to budget a little more. 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.

Language – Okay, this isn’t an expense, but many people wonder how much Japanese you need to speak before visiting? None really, but obviously it’s best that you learn some basic phrases just to be a polite traveller. I personally use Lingualift since I like it teaches you Japanese in a conversational way. Use my referral link to get the first lesson free and check out my review of LinguaLift to get a better feel for what they offer.

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 experiences because you didn’t budget properly. For more tips on how to save in Japan, check out my Tokyo on a budget guide.

More stories on Japan

By |2018-09-21T15:40:03+00:00February 24th, 2018|Budget Travel, Destinations, Travel|


  1. Tawcan April 8, 2015 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    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 April 8, 2015 at 1:48 pm - Reply


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

  2. Chonce April 8, 2015 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    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 April 8, 2015 at 1:50 pm - Reply


      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.

    • Yan October 26, 2017 at 6:23 am - Reply

      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 October 26, 2017 at 9:09 am - Reply


        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 February 14, 2018 at 4:57 pm - Reply

        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.

      • Brittany April 10, 2018 at 10:46 am - Reply

        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 April 10, 2018 at 10:47 am - Reply

          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 April 8, 2015 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    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 April 8, 2015 at 4:29 pm - Reply


      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 April 8, 2015 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    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 April 8, 2015 at 6:03 pm - Reply


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

      • Susan July 10, 2017 at 2:21 am - Reply

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

        • Barry Choi July 10, 2017 at 8:57 am - Reply

          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 April 8, 2015 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    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 April 8, 2015 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      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.

  6. Melissa April 10, 2015 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    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 April 10, 2015 at 11:33 pm - Reply


      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 April 20, 2015 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    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 April 20, 2015 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      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 April 22, 2015 at 12:00 am - Reply

    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 June 7, 2015 at 11:18 am - Reply


      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 June 7, 2015 at 11:16 am - Reply

    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 June 7, 2015 at 11:58 am - Reply


      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 March 30, 2016 at 8:36 pm - Reply

        hello barry,

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

        • Barry Choi March 30, 2016 at 8:39 pm - Reply

          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 January 11, 2016 at 1:32 am - Reply

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

    • Barry Choi January 12, 2016 at 9:48 am - Reply


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

  11. Nathan February 14, 2016 at 1:46 am - Reply

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

    • Barry Choi February 14, 2016 at 8:48 am - Reply


      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.

  12. Zianni Perilla February 26, 2017 at 4:07 am - Reply

    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 February 26, 2017 at 6:00 pm - Reply

      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 March 11, 2017 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    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 March 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm - Reply


      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 March 11, 2017 at 5:16 pm - Reply

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

    • Barry Choi March 11, 2017 at 9:07 pm - Reply


      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 March 18, 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    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 March 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    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 March 18, 2017 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      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.

      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 April 18, 2017 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    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 April 18, 2017 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      Hey Helen,

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

  18. Helen April 18, 2017 at 5:34 pm - Reply


  19. Sylvie June 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    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 June 9, 2017 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      Hi Sylvie,

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

  20. Sylvie June 9, 2017 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    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 June 9, 2017 at 3:39 pm - Reply


      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 June 9, 2017 at 3:36 pm - Reply

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

  22. sylvie June 9, 2017 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your information!

  23. Avea June 22, 2017 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    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 June 22, 2017 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      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 September 8, 2017 at 9:57 am - Reply

    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 September 8, 2017 at 10:03 am - Reply


      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.

  27. Nishi October 27, 2017 at 12:50 am - Reply

    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 November 20, 2017 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      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 November 20, 2017 at 4:14 pm - Reply

        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 November 8, 2017 at 10:37 am - Reply

    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 November 8, 2017 at 10:39 am - Reply


      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 January 22, 2018 at 9:17 am - Reply

    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 January 22, 2018 at 9:54 am - Reply

      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 January 24, 2018 at 11:50 am - Reply


    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 January 24, 2018 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      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 February 19, 2018 at 9:04 am - Reply

    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 February 19, 2018 at 10:34 am - Reply

      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 March 9, 2018 at 4:02 am - Reply

    $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 March 9, 2018 at 6:10 am - Reply

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

    • Delicia Ambrosino May 16, 2018 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      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 March 9, 2018 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    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 March 9, 2018 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      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 March 13, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

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

    • Barry Choi March 13, 2018 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      You purchase them from machines in Japan

      • michael March 13, 2018 at 1:38 pm - Reply

        thank you so much!

  35. Damon Paradise March 18, 2018 at 9:41 pm - Reply

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

  36. Susan Cramer April 16, 2018 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    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 April 17, 2018 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    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 April 17, 2018 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      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.

      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 May 9, 2018 at 7:52 pm - Reply

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

    • Barry Choi May 10, 2018 at 1:33 am - Reply


      It depends on how much you want to spend. THere are plenty of 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 May 16, 2018 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    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 June 19, 2018 at 7:50 pm - Reply


    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 June 19, 2018 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      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 November 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm - Reply

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

    • Barry Choi November 30, 2018 at 8:01 pm - Reply


      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.

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