Spending Summary: Japan

In what feels like ages ago even though it was only a little over a month, Kaitlyn and I spent 28 days in Japan. After spending time in Taiwan and Korea, we were expecting to spend more in Japan. As with the other spending summary posts, hopefully this can help you get an estimate of how much you might spend in Japan on your own travels. Let’s see how things worked out.

Over the course of 28 days (and 27 nights), we spent a total of $5,712.93, which works out to be $204/day. As with the other spending summary posts, all dollar amounts are in Canadian Dollars. This was more than we spent in Korea, and around double the cost of our travels in Taiwan. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Accommodations: $1,535.83
  • Food: $1,729.50
  • Transportation: 1,969.13
  • Activities: $470.47
  • Souvenirs: $7.99

And here’s how things compared with Taiwan and Korea.

Japan Spending

Accommodations

We stayed at a variety of places in Japan, but they were all pretty “conventional” when you take into consideration some of the quirkier places you could spend a night in Japan. Of the 27 nights we spent in Japan, 7 of those nights were complimentary thanks to my great-aunt “hosting” us in Osaka. The remaining nights were spent in various hotels and an AirBnB in Tokyo. Looking only at the accommodations we paid for, our average cost per night in Japan was $76.79. This was actually less than I expected it to be, but a lot of that has to do with finding a very reasonably priced AirBnB in Tokyo, which is the most expensive city in Japan. Overall, I was quite happy with the final cost as we still kept things below what our rent would be in Vancouver (~$60/night).

Food

Food prices vary widely in Japan, but nothing ever feels unreasonably priced. You get what you pay for in Japan, and that price range can be big. However, especially when you take into consideration the prices, it’s hard to have a bad meal in Japan. Even the cheapest eats are likely to leave you satisfied and pleased with its quality.

The cost of food was quite close to Korea, with Kait and I spending $61.77/day. The higher spending in Japan can be attributed to more “splurge meals” than we had in Korea. The food in Japan was more in line with our tastes, so we found more opportunities to go for an more expensive meals (i.e. $20+/person lunches or $50+/person dinners). I would say anywhere from $20-40 / person / day is a very reasonable budget estimate for food in Japan.

Transportation

Transportation was where the biggest increase in spending was compared to Taiwan and Korea. Moving from city to city in Japan can be expensive, and while not unreasonable, transportation within cities can also quickly add up.

The bulk of our transportation costs came from just 2 things: domestic flights and trains. Both of these modes of transportation can be expensive, but there are many options to reduce your costs if you do your research. For trains, Kait and I purchased 14 day JR Rail Passes which cost $558 each. Rail passes can be good value, but you need to compare the cost of a rail pass with your planned itinerary to make sure you’re saving money with the rail pass. Also, don’t feel limited to JR Rail Passes. There are other (less expensive) options out there, especially if you’re only planning to travel around a certain area, and not all over Japan. For flights, we booked 2 domestic flights where each flight segment cost $130. Both JAL and ANA have promotional flight pricing at around 10,000JPY / segment for foreign travellers with international tickets in and out of Japan. This makes air travel very competitive with train travel as long as the places you’re travelling to are covered by direct flights from either airline.

Other than those two major transportation expenditures, all the remaining spending mostly came from travel within cities on subways, and the occasional bus our train rides. Budgeting $10-$20/day/person for transportation within cities in Japan would be a good place to start, moving up and down the range depending on how much you want to walk, and how often you opt for taxis instead of taking transit.

Activities

Activity spending is really dependent on the traveller with regards to how much you need to budget. Kait and I spent an average of $16.80/day on activities, but in reality, we didn’t even spend money on “activities” for most of the days (17 out of 28 days to be exact). Most days Kait and I are happy to just walk around a city, which is free. Here are some spending highlights:

  • Most Expensive: $183.66 for the Tokyo DisneySea
  • Most fun bang for your buck: $24 baseball tickets
  • Best Japanese Experience: $27.12 Onsen admission
  • Most recommended: $7.20¬†Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum

So, that’s it for the Japanese Spending Summary. Next up on our travel itinerary is Australia and New Zealand. I’m expecting these two countries to be the most expensive, but we’ll see how they stack up compared to Japan.

(Originally Published June 7, 2016)

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