As a holiday destination, many people tend to view Japan as one of the most expensive countries that you can visit, but is this really the case?
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at just how expensive Japan can be for tourists, as well as how much you can expect to pay for things across the entirety of your time there, including accommodation, food, transportation, and more!
So, if you’re potentially interested in a visit to Japan, but you’re scared that it will leave your savings account empty and your credit cards maxed, then read through our guide to the cost of visiting Japan to find out more about how much you’ll need to pay a visit to this extraordinary country!
Why Is Japan Always Considered Expensive?
It’s common for people to recommend Japan as a holiday destination, before quicking adding on “but it’s expensive!”, but why is this?
The idea that Japan is an expensive place to visit stems from the fact that when you compare it to some of the other popular destinations in Asia, such as Vietnam, or Thailand, Japan is expensive.
A little money tends to go a long way in much of southeast Asia, but when it comes to a country like Japan, visitors are often surprised that things aren’t as cheap as elsewhere.
The reality is that any first-world country looks extremely expensive when you compare it to countries in Southeast Asia, so ultimately the expense of Japan is relative to the countries around it, as opposed to being a genuinely expensive place to visit.
Perhaps one of the things that misleads people the most is that cities in Japan such as Tokyo or Osaka are consistently considered some of the most expensive cities to live in in the world.
However, these rankings are focused much more on living costs, which include things such as rent, bills, and other costs that you wouldn’t experience during a visit to Japan.
So, let’s take a look at the sort of costs you’ll experience during your time in Japan, and how much you can expect to pay for things such as accommodation, transportation, and of course, food!
Of course, when you compare the accommodation costs of Japan to other countries in Asia, it’s always going to seem expensive. However, the cost of accommodation in Japan is actually much cheaper than you might initially think!
If you’re on a backpacking-style trip, then you should have no issues finding accommodation in the various hostels that can be found in the tourist areas, and these will typically cost you about $20 USD per night, which is how much you could expect to pay in most large cities across the world.
Capsule hotels (see also ‘Top 10 Amazing Japanese Small Hotels To Visit‘) are also an option if you like a little more privacy, and are similar to dorms, however your bed is in an enclosed box, as opposed to an open room. This experience is uniquely Japanese and is usually available for $30 USD per night.
Most medium to large-sized towns will have “business hotels” for people who have worked late into the night, which means you can find a room at short notice for a relatively good price, and you can expect to pay between $40 to $70 USD per night.
If you want a fancy hotel, which isn’t necessary, then you can pay between $100 to $200 for a particularly nice room. Which still makes it cheaper than most city destinations!
Japan’s food is held in high regard worldwide, and the best thing about being in the home country to all this incredible food is that it is much cheaper here than anywhere else!
Convenience stores will have a plentiful supply of food options, all of which will be healthy, unlike the convenience stores in the Western world. A sushi tray will cost you $4 USD, as will a bento box. Or you can pick up a rice ball with filling for just $1 USD!
Japan’s restaurants are not to be missed, and many will offer meals consisting of fried meat and vegetables served with rice for just $5 USD, and since there is so much variety, you’ll never get sick of eating there!
Dinner options are also plentiful, and ramen and noodle bars will usually charge around $7 to $9 USD per dish. Restaurants that serve sharing platters of things such as sushi or tempura that you can eat with friends will cost about $14 to $17 per platter.
Transportation is probably where you’ll begin to notice the amount you spend rising during your visit to Japan, especially since there is little competition when compared to things such as hotels or restaurants.
Many people will opt for the JR Pass, which provides you with unlimited travel for a two-week period, and costs $600 USD.
This might seem extortionate, but over a two-week period, this can be broken down to around $40 a day, which is worth it if you’re going to be using the JR Rail Network frequently during your time in Japan!
For example, a return train from Tokyo to Osaka would cost $140 USD alone, plus all of the smaller trips you’ll go on using the train, this pass is almost definitely worth it.
If you’re only planning to stay within one city, then you can just pay for the train each time, and most subway rides around a city like Tokyo won’t cost you more than $2 to $4 USD at a time.
As you can see then, Japan is about as expensive as most cities across Europe are for tourists, so don’t let the claims that Japan is an expensive country put you off from planning a trip to this incredible country.
So, if you want to visit a country with a unique culture, amazing food, and beautiful scenery, then you should start planning your trip to Japan now!