Is Japan expensive? Yes, Japan is an expensive country, but not when you compare it to other Western countries.
Read on to understand the breakdown of all prices and costs for a trip to Japan and see how it compares with other Western countries.
"How much does a trip to Japan cost?" - is one of the most asked questions by eager visitors who have Japan on the bucket list. Every trip to Japan will come with a different price tag based on the type of travel you enjoy.
We know how much Japan costs because we visited on numerous occasions and spent 3 months there. We can tell you that you can definitely visit Japan on a budget to reduce the overall cost of the trip. From going to capsule hotels to spending just a few dollars per meal, you can absolutely enjoy Japan on a budget.
On the other hand, you can also spend ¥100,000 ($800) on one single night in a top-notch ryokan with a private onsen, surrounded by pristine forests and eat in one of the many Michelin-star restaurants scattered all around the country.
Japan has a reputation for being one of the most expensive countries in the world. In a sense, it's true, Japan is by no means a cheap country, but if you budget well, a trip to Japan can cost you less than you initially thought.
For the first time visitors, we always recommend that you spend 2 weeks in Japan. So based on this, we're going to break down the cost of this trip to include everything you will need for a perfect holiday.
We will calculate the average price to include all the main expenses like flights, accommodation, transportation, attractions, and souvenirs.
Is Japan Expensive?
Yes, Japan is an expensive country. According to statistics on Numbeo, prices in Japan are 4.5% more expensive than the UK and 11.4% lower than in the United States. Japan scores 2.98 on the Big Mac Index.
How much does 2 weeks in Japan cost?
The estimated total cost for 2 weeks in Japan is $5450 (£4530, ¥715,000) for 2 people.
How much money should I bring to Japan for 2 weeks?
A good rule of thumb is to have about 10,000 to 20,000 yen with you in cash at all times. For 2 weeks, 100,000 yen (£650, $780) was plenty cash for us. Most shops and restaurants now accept cards in Japan. You will rarely need cash in larger cities. Take cash with you for shrines and temples and if you intend to visit rural areas. PASMO and Suica top-up machines only accept cash, but you can use your mobile phone to topup your virtual card.
Are flights to Japan expensive?
An average round trip for 2 people to Japan costs $1125 - $1350 (£1000 - £1200) from most mayor airports. These prices are higher during Sakura season in the Sprint and Koyo season in the Autumn.
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2 Weeks in Japan Trip Costs
The estimated total cost for 2 weeks in Japan is ¥790,000 ($5450) for 2 people.
This works out to ¥28,300 ($195) per person per day, and it includes flights, accommodation, transportation, food, activities, souvenirs, and other small expenses.
This is a for a medium-budget holiday with some luxury dinners, top attractions and occasional splurges on indulgent souvenirs.
|Food & Drinks||$1350|
|Total Cost of Japan trip||$5450|
Cost of Flights to Japan
Estimated flights expense: ¥163,000 - ¥195,000 ($1125 - $1350) for a round trip to Japan
The first question is to ask yourself, how much does it cost to fly to Japan? Of course, it really depends on where you're flying from. For example, we just scored return flight tickets for under ¥32,500 ($225) from Seoul to Tokyo. That's a steal! But when we flew from the UK to Tokyo we paid between ¥122,000 - ¥195, 000 ($850 to $1350) for the two of us.
It's fair to say that with the current surge in travel, the average price is around ¥163.000 ($1125) for two people to fly to Japan. There are a few things you can do to ensure you score the best ticket prices for your upcoming trip to Japan.
- Book your ticket as early as possible. Check Skyscanner or Google Flights for best prices and when to fly. We tend to book our tickets at least 3 months in advance. If you can book your tickets 6 months in advance, then you have better chances of scoring an excellent deal.
- Fly from major cities if you can. You will reduce your flying time and the cost of your plane ticket. Sometimes flying from the capital city can halve the price of your plane ticket.
- Avoid flying during major events or most popular times. Prices will be higher for the cherry blossom season and this will add a significant extra cost to your Japan trip.
- Use a combination of points and cash. Qatar Airways is a great example of an airline company that allows you to pay for your ticket with points and cash as well.
Cost of Accommodation in Japan
Estimated accommodation expense: ¥120,000 ($830)
Typical prices range so much not just between hotels and areas, but between cities too. We booked a whole week in a mid-range hotel in central Tokyo for just ¥53,500 ($370). In Kyoto, a mid-range hotel in a desirable area of Kyoto costs ¥65,100 ($450).
On the other hand, one single night in a ryokan with private onsen in the mountains costs ¥73,000 - ¥105,500 ($500 - $730) per night. Here are our tips to help you with accommodation on your two-week trip.
- Book your accommodation well in advance. This way, you don't need to stay in cheap hotels to save money. You can book wonderful 3-4 star hotel rooms right in the heart of the city with attractions at your doorstep. We recommend booking.com
- Do research on which area is most suitable for you to save money on transiting between your hotel and chosen attractions. We have dedicated articles to where to stay in Tokyo, where to stay in Kyoto and where to stay in Osaka.
- Avoid booking accommodation during the most popular times to visit Japan. If you really want to visit during the cherry blossom season, make sure to book your hotel at least 6 months in advance.
- Stay in a capsule hotel instead of a hostel. If you're looking for the ultimate budget hotel rooms, then stay in capsule hotels, which are a way better alternative to hostels. They are neater, quieter and better organized for privacy.
Good to know: Typically, Japan hotels are fairly small, so we recommend booking a kind room if you need a larger double bed or a twin room for comfortable-sized singles.
Useful tip: Ryokans are excellent accommodation in rural locations. You can get an affordable ryokan with onsen if you don't mind sharing the hot springs with others. However, if you have tattoos, you might need to book a ryokan with private onsen as people with tattoos are seldom allowed in public hot springs.
Prices range depending on accommodation in Japan: 1) Capsule hotel; 2) A standard Twin Room in a 3-star hotel in Japan; 3) A traditional tatami room in a Japanese ryokan; 4) An onsen in a Japanese ryokan with forested mountain views.
Cost of Transport in Japan
Estimated transport costs: ¥80,000 ($550)
Transportation costs and train tickets in general are expensive in Japan, but for good reason. Public transport is fast, efficient, and clean and almost always on time. The bullet train called the Shinkansen is especially fantastic, taking you from Tokyo to Kyoto in just over 2 hours.
Expect to pay around ¥60,000 ($415) for the major train trips and another ¥20,000 ($140) for transportation in the cities. That works out to ¥40,000 ($275) per person for 2 weeks . In Tokyo, you will definitely need to rely on the subway system to be able to visit the whole city and see main attractions.
There are ways to save and be crafty about your money and time.
- Get a Japan Rail Pass. The Japan Rail Pass, or JR pass for short, is the most cost-effective way to travel around Japan. The pass offers unlimited access to all JR public transport including the Shinkansen, express and some local trains, buses, ferries, and even airport transfers. When visiting Japan for the first time, you will want to see at least a couple of cities and take some day trips to special locations like Nikko, Nara, Yoshino and Mount Fuji.
- A 7-day JR Pass only costs around ¥30,000. But it's well worth it when you think about it, as a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto costs ¥28,400 per person. Add your tickets to the rest of the day trip destinations, and you end up paying way more.
- Use local trains and local buses with your JR Pass. To keep transportation costs down, use the Yamanote Line when visiting Tokyo, as it's covered by your JR pass.
- Children under the age of 5 can use all the JR transport system for free. However, they need to stay on an adult's lap and are not allowed to occupy a seat.
Good to know: If budget travel is not your jam, you can purchase a Green Pass, which is essentially the first class version of a JR Pass. It costs ¥40,000 yen per person for the 7-day pass.
Cost of Food in Japan
Estimated food costs: ¥195,000 ($1350)
Food prices in Japan can vary between ¥600 and ¥1500 ($4 - $10) for an average meal. A kaiseki meal at a fancy restaurant can vary between ¥5500 to ¥22000+ ($37 - $151). While cheap food tastes fantastic in Japan, we do recommend splurging on the occasional special dinner.
Food costs can vary from person to person. There are people who prefer to eat cheap from local supermarkets and vending machine restaurants. An evening ready-made meal from a 7/11 or Lawson supermarket can be as little as ¥600 which is a bargain. Other tourists love to spend money on food and visit Michelin star restaurants and book special food related activities.
We recommend doing both to really be able to appreciate the culinary variations of Japan. How much does it cost to eat in Japan? We'd say around ¥6,200 - ¥11,500 ($42 - $80) per person, per day.
- Create a daily food budget to ensure you know how much you have allocated for food. This is a great way to ensure you won't spend more than you can afford.
- Buy some meals from convenience stores. Many supermarkets and department stores discount their products in the evening, so you can grab a whole box of sushi for as little as ¥700. During the day, you'll find many convenience stores selling cheap pre-made lunches. Some supermarkets have a microwave at the entrance which you can use for your food.
- Buy ramen at vending machine restaurants. Vending machine restaurants are pretty cheap too. A ramen cost around ¥900 and it's super delicious. Make sure of them and enjoy affordable lunches.
- Don't buy drinks. Almost all restaurants provide customers tap water and hot green tea for free. This can save you a few hundred dollars, especially if you want to eat around Japan cheaply.
- Enjoy cheap Michelin star restaurants. If you would like to experience Michelin star restaurants in Japan, go for the cheap alternatives. At Nakiryu or Konjiki Hototogisu, the ramen starts from ¥900. However, you do need to queue for about an hour for these tasty Michelin dishes.
- Splurge on Kaiseki in Kyoto. We recommend trying an authentic Kaiseki in Kyoto. It may be expensive with prices starting from ¥22000 per person, but it is a once in a lifetime experience.
Food in Japan is affordable and delicious: 1) Ramen from Ichiran Ramen in Shibuya; 2) G holding octopus balls from Ueno in Tokyo; 3) A delicious and complete tonkatsu meal from Nikko; 4) A complete kaiseki meal in a ryokan in the mountains
Cost of Attractions in Japan
Estimated attractions costs: ¥100,000 ($690)
There are so many wonderful activities and attractions in Japan, you can never get bored in this country. These are the things that make Japan expensive, though. The average price is ¥1000 per attraction.
While there are many free attractions all around the country, special activities do come with a higher price tag. A group tour with geisha performance is ¥8700 ($70), the entry fee to the team Lab museum is ¥3200, and an authentic cooking class is ¥7200 ($55).
If you plan your travel budget well, you can keep the actual costs down. There are many ways to enjoy Japanese culture and still saving some cash. Here are the best tips to save.
- See the free attractions. There are many free temples and shrines, viewing platforms and points of interests. Take advantage of them to keep costs down.
- Go on cultural activities. Entrance fees to temples and most museums range between ¥300 ($2.5) to ¥1000 ($7.60).
- Prebook your activities well in advance to get good deals. Use Klook and Viator to find exclusive deals offered directly by locals.
- Go on a group activity for cheaper. If you want to experience the local culture and night-life in Japan, join larger tour groups to keep the costs down. You will meet a local guide who can speak Japanese and other life minded travellers.
An example of popular attractions in Japan and their cost: 1) Cory in Arashiyama bamboo forest, free to visit; 2) G walking the Fushimi Inari path, free to visit; 3) Visiting the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, free to visit; 4) Seeing Shibuya Crossing from the JR train station, free of charge
Cost of Souvenirs in Japan
Estimated souvenirs & other costs: ¥100,000 ($690)
You know that we always say it's best to arrive to Japan with an empty suitcase, to fill it up with all the cool souvenirs from Japan. There are so many weird and wonderful things in Japan, you won't know what to buy first. And that's where things can get a bit expensive.
- Visit stores like Loft and Don Quijote for souvenirs. These are multi story shops with so many cool things and kawaii items. Because they don't target tourists, you can find great souvenirs at fantastic prices.
- Go to Asakusa Kitchen town for kitchen items. Want a ramen bowl and a pair of sweet chopsticks? Head to the dedicated restaurant street, which sells an array of authentic Japanese utensils. It's where many restaurants buy their kitchen items.
- Go shopping in a department store. Ginza is a prime example of having incredible department stores with incredible merchandise. Japan is known to have the best customer service in the world, so you will have a fun time shopping.
- Get an ema from Shinto Shrines. Buy an ema from Shinto Shrines as unique souvenirs. They usually have images of the surrounding areas or the kami (God) related to the shrine.
- Enjoy tax-free shopping. Tax-free shopping is available to foreign tourists only at licensed stores when making purchases of over ¥5000 yen. You will need your passport when shopping tax-free.
So in conclusion, is Japan expensive? Yes, Japan is an expensive country, but can be enjoyed on a moderate budget too. Book your flights well in advance, keep transportation prices down by enjoying unlimited train travel with JR Pass, and book accommodation outside of peak travel times.
Based on our experience and spending habits for Japan, a two-week trip to Japan costs ¥395,000 ($2725) per person and ¥790,000 ($5450) for two adults. Of course, these are just averages, and you can go a bit lower and way higher. We do recommend that you book your trip to Japan as soon as possible, especially now that it's about to become a popular tourist destination again.