๐Ÿ’ฐ My 2024 Japan Trip Cost: A Budget Breakdown

A woman holding chopsticks with little plates of foot in front of her.

Japan, a country famous for its cherry blossoms and temples, can be visited with a budget of $60 to $120 a day.

My two-week trip to Japan cost a total of $2,829. In this post, I share:

  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected travel costs
  • ๐Ÿ’ก Budgeting tips
  • ๐Ÿ’ต How much cash to bring
  • โœˆ๏ธ My trip’s costs by category
  • ๐Ÿ“ My trip’s costs by major cities

Planning a trip? Here’s what to know about Japan.

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Is Japan Expensive To Travel To?

Japan ranks as one of the most expensive destinations in Asia. While it can be visited with a lower budget, Japan has pricey accommodations in major cities, the Japan Rail Pass is not cheap, and fees for attractions can add up.

Along with Singapore and Hong Kong, Japan is often considered a luxury destination in Asia.

However, with advanced planning and the willingness to forego certain experiences, Japan can be visited on a small budget.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Trip Daily Budget for Destinations in Asia

For comparison, I visited these countries in Asia within a year of visiting Japan, and here’s how much I spent per day at each one:

DestinationDaily Budget
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan$145
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ Cambodia$123*
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore$122
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$102
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam$89
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand$77
Daily Travel Budget for Destinations in Asia

*My Cambodia daily budget is high because I splurged on accommodation.

See all my daily budget for each destination I’ve visited.

How Much Is a Trip to Japan?

This section covers estimated trip costs depending on your travel style. I share my actual travel expenses further below.

๐ŸŽ’ Budget Traveler โ€“ Japan Trip Cost

Budget travelers can expect to spend approximately $60 per day or $840 for two weeks of travel in Japan, excluding flights.

Here’s what a budget traveler’s cost breakdown can look like:

CategoryCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$25
๐Ÿฃ Food$15
๐Ÿš† Transportation$5
โ›ฉ๏ธ Entertainment$15
Total$60
Japan Daily Budget for a Budget Traveler

To travel on a budget to Japan, below are some things you’ll need to do.

Accommodation Budgeting Tips

  • Stay in a dorm-style hostel for about $30 a night in big cities like Tokyo. You can find hostels for closer to $15 a night in more remote areas.
  • If you want more privacy, consider staying at a capsule hotel, where you can rent an enclosed bed for less than $40 a night.
  • The average cost of a private room in a budget hotel can also be cheap, but only if you stay on the outskirts of central areas. Otherwise, budget hotels are priced like mid-range hotels in central places of major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.
A small room with a bed, small table and narrow walkway.
A small hotel room that costs $36 per night in Tokyo.
  • Avoid traveling during Japan’s high season, which is the cherry blossom season in the spring (March to May). Traveling during the low season, which is summer or winter, will get you the best deals on accommodation.

See what traveling to Japan is like in December.

Transportation Budgeting Tips

Japan’s public transportation, a complex and vast network of trains, makes traveling convenient and cheap.

  • If you know you’ll be taking the train a lot, consider buying a day pass, which can be as cheap as $4 per person in Tokyo.
  • If you’re traveling long distances around Japan, consider getting the Japan Rail Pass, which gives you unlimited rides for a set time and includes access to high-speed bullet trains.

The JR Pass is expensive, so you should know your rough Japan itinerary before purchasing it. That way, you can evaluate whether it’s worth it.

Food Budgeting Tips

You can eat cheaply in Japan and find meals for $5, even in big tourist cities.

  • A great way to save money on food is to shop at convenience stores like Family Mart, 7-Eleven, and Lawson. These stores provide decent meals for less than $5. I had a latte and onigiri (rice ball) for breakfast several times at convenience stores, which cost only $2 per meal.

If you buy a refrigerated meal, like gyudon, ramen, or pasta, they will warm it up for you and provide utensils.

A store aisle selling sandwiches and snacks wrapped in seaweed.
Meals at 7-Eleven in Japan.
  • Fast food places that typically have automatic ordering machines also provide hearty meals for $5 or less. In Kyoto, I had an udon bowl for $3; in Tokyo, I ate at a ramen restaurant for $7.
A woman pushing buttons on a screen with food selections on it.
A fast food restaurant in Kyoto.
  • Markets, like the popular Nishiki Market in Kyoto and the Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka, are cheap places to try a wide variety of good food for less than $12, as each stall sells $1 to $3 snack-bite food.
Black fish next to thinly-sliced white raw fish.
Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka.
  • Conveyor belt sushi restaurants are a good deal if you’re craving seafood. I ate at one in Shinjuku, a central location in Tokyo, for $13.
A conveyer belt wrapped around a big dining table with sushi dishes on the belt.
Conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Tokyo.

Entertainment Budgeting Tips

While many of Japan’s main attractions require an entrance fee, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the country without spending much money. Some of my best days in Japan didn’t require me to pay for any attractions.

  • Many famous temples have a small entrance fee, but there is an abundance of other less well-known temples around Japan that are free.
A pathway surrounded by trees leading to a small temple.
A small, free temple in Kyoto.
  • Similarly, gardens and some bigger parks will also have entrance fees, but many urban parks have free access.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-Range Budget Traveler โ€“ Japan Trip Cost

A mid-range budget traveler like myself can expect to spend approximately $120 per day or $1,680 for two weeks of travel in Japan, excluding flights. I break down my trip expenses by travel category below.

About My Japan Trip

To give context to the expenses below, here’s what you need to know about my trip:

  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ Two weeks โ€“ I spent two weeks in Japan, visiting five places:
  • โ˜€๏ธ High season โ€“ I visited Japan in September, the beginning of the high season. Japan has two high seasons: one in the spring and one in the fall.

See the upsides and downsides of visiting Japan in September.

  • โœŒ๏ธ Group travel โ€“ I traveled with one other person, so we were able to split some costs, such as housing.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-range budget โ€“ I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler, and these expenses reflect that. I donโ€™t aim to travel on a budget, but Iโ€™m thoughtful about how and where I spend.
  • ๐Ÿ€ Self-funded โ€“ My trips areย self-funded,ย so I paid for everything listed below. None of my excursions or experiences are sponsored.
  • ๐Ÿ’ต US dollars โ€“ All costs listed in this post are per person and in US dollars, which have been converted from Japan’s local currency, the Japanese yen.

The exchange rate was $1 USD = 142 JPY at the time of writing.

A woman standing on a bridge with a lush mountain background.
Arashiyama in Kyoto.

Japan Trip’s Total Cost: $2,829

My two-week trip to Japan cost a total of $2,829, including flights.

See the highlights of my trip in this Japan itinerary.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cost Breakdown for Japan

Here’s a quick overview of my expenses by travel category:

CategoryCost% of TotalDaily Budget
โœˆ๏ธ Flights$79628%
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$80729%$58
๐Ÿฃ Food$48917%$35
๐Ÿš† Transportation$37413%$27
โ›ฉ๏ธ Entertainment$1556%$11
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Shopping$2087%$15
Total$2,829100%$145
Japan Trip’s Cost Breakdown

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ Daily Budget in Japan: $145

My Japan trip cost $145 per day, excluding my round-trip flights from and to the United States.

Daily Budget
Excluding flights$145
Including flights$202
Japan Trip’s Cost Per Day

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend $120 per day in Japan. This generally means staying at accommodations that cost about $70 per night, eating a mix of food from convenience stores and restaurants, and visiting several of Japan’s big cities.

โœˆ๏ธ Flight Cost to Japan: $796

My round-trip flight from the West Coast of the United States to Haneda Airport in Tokyo was $796.

A round-trip flight between the US and Japan that costs under $700 is considered cheap; international flights typically cost over $900.

๐Ÿ  Accommodation Cost in Japan: $807

My average cost of accommodation in Japan was $58 per day. I was able to split accommodations with one other person at all times.

Here are the accommodations I stayed at and how much I paid for each:

AccommodationTotal CostCost per Night
Kyoto ryokan$268 $268
Kyoto hotel$96$48
Tokyo hotel (Nihonbashi)$179$36
Tokyo hotel (Shinjuku)$37$37
Mt. Fuji hut$64$64
Mt. Fuji hotel$37$37
Onomichi hotel$96$96
Imabari hotel$30$30
Japan Trip’s Accommodation Costs

Budgeting Tips for Accommodations in Japan

Here are my budgeting tips and things to note regarding accommodations in Japan:

  • Accommodations are pricey โ€“ While accommodations in Japan can be affordable in non-central areas, expect to pay $70 for mid-range hotel rooms in central areas of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Luxury hotels in those major cities will be as high as $900, but I recommend staying in a ryokan if you have a larger accommodation budget.
  • Be prepared to shell out for a ryokan โ€“ Ryokans, which are traditional Japanese inns, are typically more expensive than mid-range hotels; a decent one starts at around $150.

Ryokans are usually attached to onsens and serve kaiseki, a multi-course Japanese meal, for breakfast, dinner, or both. Despite their higher costs, they’re considered a unique experience that’s worth a one- or two-night stay.

Two Japanese-styled beds on wooden floors.
A ryokan room in Kyoto.
  • Don’t pack toiletries (optional) โ€“ Many hotels in Japan will provide toiletries, pajamas, and breakfast sets as part of their accommodation costs. All the hotels I stayed at (with Mt. Fuji hut being the exception) provided toothbrushes, toothpaste, face lotion, etc.
A rack with boxes filled with toiletries like toothbrush and face soap.
Complimentary toiletries at a Japanese hotel.

๐Ÿฃ Food Cost in Japan: $489

My average cost of food in Japan was $35 per day.

Food costs in Japan vary widely; you can eat on a budget or extravagantly. For either budget, try eating at local spots for the best authentic eats.

Here’s a hack for finding local eats in Japan.

Cheapest Meals in Japan

Here are the most affordable meals I ate during my trip:

MealLocationCost
Onigiri and a latte7-Eleven (Tokyo)$1.50
Udon with miso soupNakau – Shichijo Shimmachi (Kyoto)$3
Octopus gyudon rice bowlChidori Shokudo (Ikuchi Island)$10
Cheapest Meals in Japan

If you’re on a budget, you can eat Japanese food for $3 to $10 at convenience stores (Family Mart, 7-Eleven, and Lawson), street food markets, and fast food restaurants where you sometimes order at a machine resembling a vending machine.

Most Expensive Meals in Japan

Here are the most expensive meals I ate during my trip:

MealLocationCost
Premium beef shabu shabuGyลซ Kimura (Kyoto)$52
Premium beef yakinikuArakawa (Kyoto)$43
Multi-course tofu setOkutan Nanzenji (Kyoto)$23
Most Expensive Meals in Japan
A circular grill with marbled meat next to an open kitchen.
Arakawa in Kyoto.

You’ll notice that fresh fruits in Japan can be very expensive (e.g., over $15 for a handful of grapes) because fruits hold more significance in Japanese culture. But if you go to local supermarkets, you can buy them for reasonable prices.

๐Ÿš† Transportation Cost in Japan: $374

My average cost of transportation in Japan was $26 per day.

Here are the transportation methods I took and how much I paid for each:

TransportationTotal Cost
Japan Rail Pass (7-day pass)$232
Bike rental (2 days)$41
Train tickets & day passes$40
Bus tickets to Mt. Fuji$16
Luggage shipping$15
Coin-operated luggage storage (4 times)$12
Uber/Taxi in Kyoto (2 rides)$9
Bus from Haneda Airport to Tokyo$9
Japan Trip’s Transportation Costs
A woman biking on a modern-looking bridge.
Cycling with bike rentals in Japan.

When figuring out transportation, know that many of Japan’s train stations have coin-operated luggage storage that is cheap and convenient. It typically costs less than $5 for 24-hour storage. As the name implies, they are sometimes cash-only and need exact change. Train station attendants can give you change for larger bills.

A set of lockers with the sign that says COIN-LOCKERS.
A coin-operated locker in Tokyo.

Budgeting Tips for Trains in Japan

The best way to travel around Japan is by train. Here are my budgeting tips and things to note regarding trains there:

  • Consider getting the JR Pass โ€“ JR, the same group that operates all the bullet trains (called Shinkansen), serves many of Japan’s trains. A bullet train ride can be expensive (around $100 from Tokyo to Kyoto), so you should determine whether getting a JR Pass, which gives you unlimited rides for a set time, is more economical. I got the 7-day JR Pass for my Japan itinerary because it was cheaper than buying individual rides.
A ticket that says Japan Rail Pass.
My Japan Rail Pass.
  • Take advantage of day passes โ€“ Some local transportation, like Tokyo’s local trains, offers a cheap day pass that is usually cost-efficient if you take the train more than three times within 24 hours.
  • IC cards can make things more convenient โ€“ You’ll notice that many places in Japan, including public transportation, convenience stores, restaurants, and vending machines, will accept IC cards like PASMO and Suica. An IC card is a rechargeable travel card that you can get to make navigating Japan easier.

โ›ฉ๏ธ Entertainment Cost in Japan: $155

My average cost of entertainment in Japan was $11 per day. My entertainment costs are on the lower end because I did many free things and took advantage of the country’s beautiful nature, which is usually low-cost.

A typical mid-range traveler in Japan will likely spend closer to at least $30 a day on entertainment.

Here are all the activities and attractions I paid for and how much each cost:

ActivityCost
Foot massage (Kyoto)$35
Full-body massage (Tokyo)$26
Karaoke and drinks (Tokyo)$20
Yoyogi Stadium Olympics Qualifier Volleyball ticket (Tokyo)$20
Osaka Aquarium ticket (Osaka)$18
Arashiyama Sagano Romantic train ticket (Kyoto)$12
Kousanji Museum and Hill of Hope ticket (Onomichi)$10
Mount Fuji conservation donation$10
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden ticket (Tokyo)$3
Gioji Temple ticket (Kyoto)$2
Japan Trip’s Entertainment Costs

Japan is a beautiful country where many people like to take photos. Before snapping a photo of a local, ask them for permission, as doing so without consent is considered disrespectful. Learn more about proper Japanese etiquette.

Free Things To Do in Japan

Japan is known for its natural beauty, so there are many free outdoor activities and attractions available.

Here are the attractions and activities I did in Japan that were free:

  • Fushimi Inari Taisha โ€“ This famous shrine complex in Kyoto has no entrance fee.
A view of red shrines overlooking a city.
Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto. (Photo by my sister, Kat.)
  • Mount Fuji hiking โ€“ Mt. Fuji has four trails, and starting in 2024, you only need to pay for the Yoshida Trail, the most popular one. When I did the Subashiri trail, I just had the option to donate a small amount.
A woman next to a Shinto shrine above the clouds.
Hiking Mt. Fuji.
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building โ€“ Shibuya Sky is a popular sunset observation deck in Tokyo, but you can save $15 by going to the deck on the 45th floor of the government building instead.
  • Parks โ€“ Tokyo has tranquil and beautiful urban parks, including Yoyogi Park and Shinjuku Central Park.
A lush garden with a small pond and Chinese-style building.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo.
  • Smaller temples โ€“ Many of Kyoto’s smaller and less well-known temples in the Arashiyama district and Philosopher’s Path are free.
  • Bustling districts โ€“ You can spend hours walking around and window shopping in districts like Tokyo’s Akihabara and Osaka’s Dotonbori.
A set of lit-up buildings with anime girls on it.
Akihabara in Tokyo.

Cost Breakdown by Destination in Japan

Below are my trip expense breakdowns for Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. These three major cities are often featured in first-timersโ€™ travel itineraries.

I also spent time in the following places:

๐Ÿฑ Tokyo Trip’s Total Cost: $97

During my six-day trip to Tokyo, I averaged $99 in daily travel expenses.

In Tokyo, I stayed at two hotels in the Shinjuku and Nihonbashi areas to be close to major train stations. I paid to visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, watch an Olympics Qualifiers volleyball game at Yoyogi Stadium, and sing karaoke with some locals.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$216$36
๐Ÿฃ Food$178$30
๐Ÿš† Transportation$26$4
โ›ฉ๏ธ Entertainment$69$12
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Shopping$107$18
Tokyo Trip’s Costs by Category
A full sports stadium with a volleyball court at the center.
Yoyogi Stadium in Tokyo.

Tokyo is the most expensive city in Japan to live in, but it’s not the most expensive city to visit. With a plethora of restaurants and sights to see, you can explore Tokyo on your own for free or hire a local guide to optimize your time there.

โ›ฉ๏ธ Kyoto Trip’s Total Cost: $616

During my two-day trip to Kyoto, I averaged $308 in daily travel expenses.

Kyoto is where I splurged more on accommodation as I stayed at a ryokan and a nicer hotel near the Kyoto train station. I also spent more on dining, as my two most expensive Japanese meals were here.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$364$182
๐Ÿฃ Food$179$90
๐Ÿš† Transportation$11$5
โ›ฉ๏ธ Entertainment$50$25
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Shopping$12$6
Kyoto Trip’s Costs by Category
A red temple peeking out of a lush forest of green trees.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto. (Photo by my sister, Kat.)

Kyoto is known for its well-preserved historical sites. It boasts over 1,600 temples, and all the major or popular ones have a small entrance fee (usually around $5). The city also has many free temples, like the ones found on the Philosopher’s Path or in the Arashiyama district.

๐Ÿ™ Osaka Trip’s Total Cost: $50

I did a day trip to Osaka from Kyoto. During my short trip, I visited the Kuromon Ichiba Market, walked around the popular and bustling Dotonbori area, and visited the Osaka Aquarium, which I found to be unique and well-designed.

CategoryTotal Cost
๐Ÿฃ Food$22
๐Ÿš† Transportation$6
โ›ฉ๏ธ Entertainment$18
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Shopping$5
Osaka Trip’s Costs by Category
A busy, commercial street next to a canal at night.
Dotonbori in Osaka. (Photo by my sister, Kat.)

Osaka is called “Japan’s Kitchen” and a foodie’s paradise. It’s well-known for its street food, nightlife, and numerous Michelin-starred places, so expect to spend a bit on dining. If you like some guidance, plenty of English-speaking guides offer street food tours.

Do You Need Cash in Japan?

Although Japan has a good credit card infrastructure, a significant part of its economy is based on cash transactions. This is especially true once you wander outside its major cities, so make sure to bring some cash.

Below are tips on bringing and using cash in Japan.

๐Ÿ’ด 1. Withdraw cash in Japanese yen.

Japan’s currency is the Japanese yen (JPY), and the US dollar is not widely accepted.

ATMs are readily available in many central areas of Japan, but you might have trouble finding them elsewhere. For example, during my ryokan stay, I had trouble finding an ATM on the outskirts of Japan.

A hand holding a couple of Japanese yen bills next to an ATM.
ATM in Tokyo’s airport.

๐Ÿ’ต 2. Carry about $40 worth of cash per day in Japan.

On a typical day, a mid-range budget traveler in Japan will need at least $40 in cash to cover food, transportation, and attractions. A daily cash expense breakdown can look like this:

  • $15 at restaurants and cafes
  • $10 on shopping
  • $5 on attractions
  • $5 on taking the trains
  • $5 on miscellaneous spending like vending machines, coin-lockers, etc.

Japan’s trains have a fixed price based on the distance traveled, so you must calculate the price every time you ride and buy a disposable ticket. However, you can buy a PASMO card to avoid calculating the price every time and minimize the amount of cash you need to carry.

A machine in Japanese that has several slots and takes cash.
Buying a train ticket in Tokyo.

On my Japan trip, I spent a total of roughly $200 (about $15 per day) in cash. Here’s a breakdown of how I used my cash:

CategoryTotal Cash
๐Ÿฃ Food$119
๐ŸšŠ Transportation$47
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Shopping$27
โ›ฉ๏ธ Entertainment$4
Amount of Cash by Category for Japan Trip

I keep my cash in my crossbody bag, but if you want extra protection against pickpocketing, carry it in a hidden money belt instead.

๐Ÿง 3. Many places in Japan are cash-only.

While credit cards are commonly used in Japan, I still had to use cash more than 30 times during my two-week trip. Here are some of the places that were cash-only in Japan:

  • Markets โ€“ Kyoto’s Nishiki Market and Osaka’s Kuromon Ichiba Market are both cash-only.
  • Restaurants โ€“ This includes places in major cities and smaller towns. I had to use cash in restaurants specializing in tofu, fluffy pancakes, ramen, and conveyor belt sushi.
  • Cafes and bakeries โ€“ This includes a popular matcha place in Kyoto and an ice cream stand in Onomichi.
  • Smaller shops โ€“ Shops tend to be cash-only in less accessible areas (e.g., at the top of the Fushimi Inari in Kyoto).
  • Train stations kiosks โ€“ None of the kiosks took my Chase travel credit card, so I used cash for all my train rides.
  • Coin-operated lockers โ€“ As the name implies, these lockers only accept coins.
  • Smaller temples โ€“ Some less well-known temples in Kyoto had small entrance fees.
  • Vending machines โ€“ Most vending machines in Japan are cash-only.
A woman standing in front of a set of vending machines selling bottled drinks.
Vending machines in Japan.

๐Ÿ’ฐ 4. Tipping is not customary in Japan.

Japan does not have a tipping culture, and you’ll find that locals will refuse tips even if you offer or insist. This is because they feel you’re already sufficiently paying for their service.

I offered a tip out of habit twice while in Japan, and my tips were refused both times.

See other essential travel tips for Japan before visiting.

Japan Trip Planner

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Japan trip planner.

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