How Much Is A Trip To Japan | The Ultimate Guide To The Cheapest Travel Times And Places

How Much Does A Japanese Trip Cost?

While you’re going to have a few unique factors that’ll determine how much you spend on a trip to Japan, it’s not as expensive of a country to explore should you do it the right way.

There are some general parameters in terms of how much your trip could cost to keep in mind when planning your travel budget. 

Tokyo Skyline

A great way to break it down is by considering who you’re traveling with and how much it’ll cost per day that you’re staying in Japan.

For instance, it typically costs about $100-$105 USD per day in Japan when sticking to a budget. So for one week in Japan, you’ll want to budget about $700 to $735 for the week, not including round trip airfare

Is Japan On A Budget Possible?

You won’t miss out on what Japan offers when sticking to a budget. That’s the great thing about Japan; there are opportunities to immerse yourself in culture, tradition, and the Japanese way of life everywhere in the country, no matter how much money you have to work with. 

Japan is one of those countries that seems like it’s an expensive place to travel through, and that’s because it could be if you don’t plan.

There’s a lot you can see, do, eat, and explore in the country without being expensive, giving you room to splurge here and there on things you don’t want to miss out on. 

When you’re starting to plan your trip, make sure you know what your maximum budget is. This is the number that you can’t spend more than when you’re figuring out if you can make your Japan trip work.

You should aim to stay under this budget, especially so you can have some extra money set aside should incidentals occur. 

Non-Negotiable Costs For Traveling To Japan 

You definitely don’t want to forgo having good travel insurance for your trip to Japan. This should be a standard any time you leave the country.

If you already have travel insurance through a credit card or through your current insurance plan, be sure it’s sufficient and will cover your trip to Japan and Japan trip costs. 

It’s also highly recommended you budget for a pocket wifi device. This will help you connect your phone to the internet at all times so you can pull up maps or directions, translation apps, and anything else you might need access to online. You can buy these in advance and pick them up at the airport.

When Is The Cheapest Time To Travel To Japan?

You wouldn’t think that a tree would have such a major impact on when to travel to a country for cheap, but when it comes to the Japanese cherry blossom, it truly does.

Since tourists often flock to Japan for cherry blossom season in April, it tends to be one of the most expensive times to travel to Japan. 

Winter is an underrated season to visit Japan, as there are a ton of great things to do in the country during the colder months, so it tends to be much cheaper to travel there.

Not all spots in Japan will be blanketed in snow, and the little snow flurries here and there add to the immense beauty of the country. 

If you’re hoping to be outside as much as possible when in Japan, visiting in the summer is another option. June or July is the best summer months to consider booking your trip, as prices can get a little bit higher in August with a host of Japanese events occurring that month. 

If you’re sad to miss cherry blossom season, heading to Japan in the fall will give you plenty of opportunities to see incredible foliage.

You’ll also be able to stay outdoors and enjoy what Japan has to offer in terms of natural beauty since the weather is still very comfortable in the fall. 

Cheap Cities And Towns In Japan 

Tokyo is the epicenter of Japan, and there are ways to enjoy this big city for cheap. One shouldn’t limit their Japan trip to Tokyo, though you should expect to make some trips through the city on train rides to other spots in Japan.

That said, walking through one of Tokyo’s various neighborhoods is free, as is visiting spots like Yoyogi Park and the Imperial Palace Gardens.

While any city or town in Japan can be either cheap or expensive to enjoy based on your individual choices, there are some cities and towns known to be especially affordable without limiting your overall enjoyment of your trip. 

Kyoto

Kyoto is a big city, but there are lots of inexpensive things to do and, with some research, cheap places to stay.

Kyoto at Night

You can also take in a lot of history when making your way through Kyoto. Nishiki Market is a really fun outdoor market to walk through, as is the historic district of Higashiyama.

You’ll also find a large number of temples throughout the city

Fukuoka 

Fukuoka is a small city on the island of Kyushu with breathtaking beaches and cheap places to stay. You can also find a plethora of temples and other great spots to visit inexpensively.

Fukuoka

This old castle town is full of historical sites, like the Castle Ruins, and public parks galore to see for cheap, if you pay anything at all. 

Okinawa

Okinawa is a very cool part of Japan with a unique mixture of modern and traditional.

Beach Scene In Okinawa

Here, you’ll find cheap excursions such as the Peace Memorial Park, Sefa Utaki, and Hiji Waterfall, which are all under $4 USD. For no cost, you can see the Yanbaru Region, full of forested spots and incredible wildlife and even castle ruins

Sapporo 

Sapporo has been an underrated part of Japan that is finally getting the attention it deserves for everything it offers.

Sapporo Skyline

Some cheap places to see in Sapporo include Shiroi Koibito Park, a theme park based on chocolate, or Mount Moiwa, where you can take a cheap cable car ride with spectacular views.

There are also many free spots to check out, like Moerenuma Park or Odori Park.

Osaka 

Osaka gives you the same big city vibe that Tokyo does. It’s one of the best places to find some of the most delicious street food you’ll ever have, and you can find a wealth of reasonable accommodations.

Osaka Skyline

Do some window shopping in the unique Shinsekai District, or check out the spectacular Osaka Castle, among many other things to see and do. 

Kobe 

Just because Kobe beef is high-priced, it doesn’t mean the city it was named after is. There are a lot of really interesting sights in Kobe that can make for a fun-filled day for cheap.

Kobe Japan

Sorakuen Garden Via Tripadvisor

The breathtaking Sorakuen Garden is only $2 USD to see, and the Amira Onsen town offers a cheap hot spring bath and much more. 

Fuji Five Lakes 

If you’re going to splurge on a stay at a traditional Japanese inn when in Japan, the Fuji Five Lakes area is the place you’re going to want to do this.

While you can enjoy one without booking a stay in an onsen town, you’ll want to be able to soak in a natural hot spring bath while in Japan. 

Fuji Five Lakes Area

As the name would imply, there are also a wealth of opportunities to get some different perspectives of the famous Mount Fuji, as well as enjoy a host of hiking trails and other beautiful outdoor sights around this expansive area. 

How To Travel Through Japan For Cheap 

Making your way throughout the country of Japan doesn’t have to be expensive, though transportation will end up being one of your biggest expenses. This is especially true if you don’t discount the charm of small towns and hidden treasures in the country. 

Sticking to the most famous sites and the biggest cities is not only a pricey way to see Japan, but it’s very limiting in terms of what you can learn and experience.

You can travel between major cities and small towns in Japan and still keep transportation costs low by a combination of thorough planning and purchasing a Japan Rail pass.

If you’re planning on staying in Japan for at least a week and don’t want to stay in one city or town the whole time, this could end up being a great investment for you. 

You’ll want to budget about $250 USD per week for your transportation costs, which should be plenty to ensure you can get around Japan and see as much as possible for cheap. There isn’t really a need to travel by taxi when making your way through Japan, and renting a car isn’t a necessary expense either. 

Why The Japan Rail Pass?

You can use a Japan Rail Pass to ride a large portion of trains, buses, and even many of the bullet train routes.

This pass helps you get onto any public transportation owned by Japan Rail, which is a lot, simply by using your pass. While the pass looks expensive at first glance, paying out of pocket each time you board a train would end up being more. 

Just keep in mind that your JR Pass isn’t going to cover every single mode of transportation you use. Some of the buses and trains in smaller towns might not be covered, so you’ll have to pay some yen to get on.

However, when you plan your travel routes beforehand, you can make it, so you utilize your JR Pass as much as possible. 

The Japan Rail pass isn’t worth it for every Japanese traveler, however. If you’re not planning on traveling outside of a couple of cities or towns, you might not use your pass enough for the expense to be worth it. 

Where To Stay In Japan For Cheap 

The nice thing about accommodations in Japan is they aren’t especially expensive, especially if you’re not needing to stay at a five star hotel.

You’re looking at anywhere between $30 and $50 USD per day in terms of budgeting for accommodations, though you can easily be flexible with that budget if you’re able to find some really good deals. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the more people you have staying in your room, the more your room is going to cost per night as the room might have a per person charge.

Since you’ve probably doubled your budget to account for two people, doubling your accommodation based on averages for a single person will help you plan your spending. 

Additionally, consider that you’re not going to be spending a lot of time in your room (hopefully), so splurging on accommodations isn’t a necessity.

While you’ll find that your accommodations will be another of your biggest expenses for your trip, it can still be fairly affordable if you plan well. 

Japanese Hostels 

The thought of staying in a hostel might make some nervous, but hostels in Japan have a good reputation for being clean, safe, and, most importantly, very affordable.

Hostels will have to be booked in advance, as they only have limited accommodations. If you’re concerned about safety, be sure to read reviews before you book anything. 

Best Hostels In Japan Via Tripadvisor

Capsule Hotels 

Even though capsule hotels are a relatively new and modern type of accommodation in Japan, this option can actually be quite cheap. In a capsule hotel, you’re staying in a pod with a small television, and your bed, and that’s about it. It’s a unique experience, even if only for a night or two. 

Outside of capsule hotels, you can find standard or business hotels all throughout Japan that are especially affordable while also being clean and nice.

These are by no means five star hotels with all the amenities, but they are more than comfortable places to stay with hospitable service and very clean rooms. 

Ryokan 

A ryokan is a Japanese inn where you get a private room, though you will sometimes share a bathroom. Some of these inns will also offer meals during your stay.

If you happen to travel to an onsen town to enjoy a hot spring bath, a ryokan is likely one of the best places to stay. 

With ryokans, however, research is key, as some might be above your budget. If you manage to save throughout your trip by staying in hostels and capsule hotels when you can, it’s well worth playing with your accommodation budget to stay in a ryokan for at least one night. 

Eating Cheap In Japan

Japan is a country ripe with some of the most incredible food you’ll eat in your life. What’s more, you don’t have to eat out at a restaurant every single night in order to eat well.

In fact, you shouldn’t; not only is this going to blow your budget, but it also means you’ll miss out on some of the hidden treasures of Japanese food.  On a side note, depending on the season, fresh fruit can be very expensive in places like Tokyo.

Incredibly Expensive Yubari Melon In Tokyo

When looking at average food budgets for Japan, you’re probably going to want to budget anywhere between $25 to $30 USD per day for your food per person.

This is pretty generous as you can really find high quality food for less. Additionally, this will give you room to enjoy a restaurant meal occasionally, as you don’t want to miss out on some Japanese sushi or an izakaya

Cheap Eats In Japan 

You would be amazed at the choice of delicious, fresh foods you can purchase for very cheap prices at Japanese convenience stores.

Prepared meals at convenience stores, or konbini, are made with fresh, local ingredients and won’t sit on display if they’ve gone bad. You can find amazing bento boxes, pastries, onigiri, and so much more for very cheap, but they won’t taste cheap at all. 

Walking through the streets of Japan, you’ll also find a fair share of markets and street food options that are not only incredibly delicious and diverse but are super cheap.

As you walk through just about any city or town you decide to stay in, you’ll likely find a stall or a market somewhere. A little bit of research will help you find one in a pinch. 

The same is true of Japanese fast food restaurants. While fast food in Western countries can be less than appetizing and not that affordable, the opposite is true in Japan.

You can find some of your favorites, like hot noodle dishes, pork cutlets, and even hamburgers at Japanese chains that are much better than fast food from the States. 

Entertainment And Attractions For Cheap In Japan 

Everyone likes to do things differently when they travel to a new country, and that includes what they choose to do each day to explore the country and learn about the culture.

You can still see your fair share of attractions and enjoy yourself in Japan without spending an exorbitant amount of money. 

One way to potentially save money on excursions and admission prices is to research where you want to go in advance and see if you can purchase tickets or make reservations.

Often you can find deals this way. However, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many things you can do for very cheap prices in Japan. 

Temples And Shrines

Temples and shrines are some of the best places to learn about Japanese culture, meet people, and explore some pretty beautiful places in Japan for cheap.

Asakusa Temple Tokyo

Admissions may cost around $5 USD or so, and your money is well-spent, as it goes to preserving these highly important and sacred spots. You may even end up stumbling upon temples and shrines that don’t cost anything. 

Museums 

There are museums aplenty in Japan on just about anything and everything you could imagine to do with Japanese culture.

Roppongi Art Museum Tokyo

What’s more, admission prices for museums are very cheap, especially if you purchase your admission tickets before you make your way to Japan. 

Parks 

There are so many green spaces, open parks, national parks, and hiking trails in Japan that are all free to use or may potentially cost just a few bucks to enter.

Many parks will have events throughout the year where you can find inexpensive street food, watch a show or Japanese play, and learn even more about Japanese tradition and culture. 

Shinjuku Park Tokyo

Japan has its fair share of theme parks too, and they are not nearly as expensive as parks in the United States.

That said, they are pricey compared to some of the other activities you might indulge in when in Japan. Your choice of the theme park will be a major factor; for instance, Tokyo Disneyland will cost much more than Fuji-Q Highlands

Cheap Shopping 

Of course, you’re going to want to buy things to take home with you as mementos of your trip.

100 Yen Shop Japan

Places like Japanese department stores, 100 yen shops, and markets are great places to walk through and look for some interesting gems that are especially inexpensive but not a waste of money. 

Helping Keep Your Trip To Japan Cost Down | Budget Tips 

Many travelers have successfully spent a lot of time creating lifelong memories in Japan while sticking to a budget and have shared what they’ve learned along the way to keep average cost low without missing out.

It’s worth learning from the experience of those who have been to Japan and have managed to keep their spending low on certain things without making big sacrifices and having extra costs. 

Conversion Rates And Fees

Be sure you check both exchange rates and potential fees at different locations before you plan on changing your currency to Japanese yen.

While you’ll want to have cash on hand when in Japan, you may, from time to time, want to use a debit or credit card. Check to see the conversion rate for your bank cards before you decide to use them. 

Transportation To/From The Airport

You’re likely tempted to take a taxi from the airport to your first accommodation, but if you’re flying into one of Japan’s bigger airports, you’ll be able to get a bus or a train instead.

Nex Train From Narita To Tokyo

These are going to be much less pricey than hiring a taxi, which might end up charging a premium for picking you up from Narita or Haneda, Tokyo’s two main airports. 

Pro Travel Trips For Visiting Japan

Japan is a great place to explore, and the good news is you can still have a great level of travel style, even for first time visitors.

If you are traveling on a budget, one of the most important things to avoid is luxury hotels, as prices, especially during high season, its rare to find great deals.

Although many believe Japan to be an expensive country to visit, the average price for a week or two can be quite reasonable. The best time to visit can be in winter before the cherry blossoms bloom and tourists come in droves.

Vending machine snacks can be a great way to keep your food costs down, and staying at a capsule hotel can save a lot on accommodations since hotel prices can add up quickly.

Whether you fly into Haneda airport or Narita near Tokyo, you will save a lot using local trains rather than taxi services.

Train stations in Japan will most likely be far different than those in your home country. Japanese people can be incredibly helpful and are known to be kind and very polite should you lose your way.

If you plan on buying a train ticket for each leg of your journey, you might consider the Japan rail pass a great way to save on public transit.

Hotel rooms can vary quite a bit at the low end; you’ll find capsule hotels, mid range business hotels, then standard and even luxury hotels that can cut more into your budget travel. In recent years flight costs have dropped for international travel but will still make up a majority of your overall budget.

Travel agents may charge a small commission for your trip, but their expertise can save you a lot in the overall daily budget. Travel agents are often the best way to navigate thru the somewhat confusing travel scheduling and higher prices on mid-range hotels and even luxury accommodation.

Although most don’t consider a travel agent or service, its a great way to save on Japanese travel, get advice on day trips from your locality, and even the best amusement park sites you might not be aware of

Some final advice on visiting Japan is to make sure your sim card will work within Japan. You’ll most likely be using google maps, and it’s a really useful source for making your way thru the cities, suburbs, and rural areas of Japan.

If you’re mainly staying in Tokyo, then a single trip to mt. Fuji is a great way to get out of the city for one day. Tokyo station has direct trains that will take you there. Depending on the time of year, you’ll want to see the mountain up close.

A 7-day JR Pass will keep your cost of travel to and from the mountain is a better idea to see it up close. Many attractions have a day pass or low entry fees.

One of the highest rated things to do for a nice dinner is try a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Experiencing one of these restaurants is a good idea to sample a wide variety of Japan’s famous dishes.

If your plan is to travel within Japan for long distances and more than a week trip then as a general rule, a JR Pass is a must to keep daily expenses down. Different cities vary greatly on the cost of accommodation, and many Japanese inns or Ryokans offer breakfast sets included with the room cost.

These inns also have free access to an onsen or hot springs on site and will be a great way to learn of local free attractions and advice on local restaurants.

Hostels or dorm rooms where tourists will share a single dorm room can be the cheapest option for the budget minded who don’t mind staying with others in a single room.

Although outsiders will say to avoid Japan because it’s one of the most expensive countries to visit, it’s not completely true.

Staying true to your budget and avoiding expensive entrance fees to attractions that are geared toward tourists can save a bundle.

Things like universal studios can quickly eat thru a travel budget, but spending the morning at a local coffee shop soaking up the atmosphere can prove to be just as magical.

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.