As a study abroad student living in Akita for five months, I had the opportunity to experience the country as a tourist and as a resident. This article will focus on how much it might cost for those who are curious about visiting Japan. I will clarify the duration of the time spent, the cost, as well as what I did and bought that led to the spendings. As this is from my personal experience, I cannot guarantee that you will spend around the same as I did, but it may help you have an idea.
Flying to Japan
Before talking about my experiences in Japan, I want to discuss the cost of the flight. I took China Eastern from the U.S. to Japan, and it was about US$750 round trip. Despite many of its negative reviews, I want to say that my experience was rather positive with its delicious vegetarian meals and some accommodations. The reason why my flight was so cheap was that I booked it many months in advance and I chose to have a long 12-hour layover in China than to spend more. As an individual, I preferred saving money over time.
First time in Tokyo: Big unexpected expenses
I spent a week in Tokyo when I first arrived in Japan before my study abroad experience. My main cost for that week was housing. If you see my article on lodging options in Japan, you will be able to determine the cost in accordance with your standard while not overstepping the boundaries of your spendings. I chose a ryokan the first week I was in Japan, which was about ¥5,000 (US$50) a night. For a week of stay in Japan, I spent ¥30,000 (US$300).
Another significant cost, surprisingly, happened to be food, even though my group tried to moderate our spending by grabbing onigiri rice balls (¥100/US$1) in convenience stores. Despite our effort, we spent about ¥5,000 (US$50) a day, mainly because I splurged on any street food I saw, even when I wasn’t feeling hungry, and I bought beverages from vending machines every chance I could get, even when I wasn’t feeling thirsty. In totality for that week, I spent about another ¥30,000 (US$300) on food and drinks.
I didn’t consider saving my buck when it came to my transportation costs. I typically spend about ¥1,000 to ¥2,000 (US$10-20) a day, which amounted to ¥10,000 (US$100) by the end of the week.
And another considerable expense I didn’t consider at all were claw machines, though this is not a necessity by any means. A significant amount was spent on claw machines, and a good estimate would be about ¥60,000 (US$600) that week from me alone. A good way to apply this case to yourself is by considering it as an activity fee, whether that is to take a class on tea ceremony or hire a tour guide — anything that can be regarded as a deviation from necessity during your travels. I did not spend much on souvenirs, so a good estimate would be about ¥10,000 (US$100).
In total, I spent ¥140,000 (US$1,400) for that week in Tokyo.
Second time in Tokyo: Almost half the first time
The second time I stayed in Tokyo, it was after my study abroad experience. I was definitely more money conscious this time around, and my buzz of being in Japan had worn off.
I only spent about ¥8,000 (US$80) for a week of stay at a hostel, though I regret this decision as that hostel was a terrible experience.
I spent considerably less on food as well, as I was no longer eager to try everything I saw, so I paid about ¥20,000 (US$200) that week.
I spent the same amount on transportation: ¥10,000 (US$100).
I managed to stay away from claw machines, but I did spend more money on souvenirs and activities (e.g., VR games, onsens, clubs). I spent about ¥20,000 (US$200) on souvenirs and ¥15,000 (US$150) on activities.
In total, I spent ¥73,000 (US$730) that week, which is almost half of what I paid the first week.
There are some additional costs that I left out.
A significant cost was taking a taxi, which occurred twice the first trip and once the second trip. Each time, it cost about ¥10,000 (US$100). This situation can be completely avoided, and you can learn more on my other article: “A guide to traveling inexpensively in Japan.”
If you’re money conscious and choose to avoid spending so frivolously as I have, it is definitely possible to pay less while still enjoying your time.