A country famous for cherry blossoms, onsens, and temples, Japan is a country in Asia that can be visited with a budget of $60 to $120 a day.
My two-week trip to Japan cost a total of $2,829 USD. In this post, I share:
- 💰 Expected travel costs
- 💡 Budgeting tips
- 💵 How much cash to bring
- ✈️ My trip’s costs by category
- 📍 My trip’s costs by major cities
Planning a trip? Here are things to know about Japan before going.
- Is Japan Expensive?
- How Much Is a Trip?
- About My Trip
- Total Trip Cost: $2,829
- Cost Breakdown by City
- Do You Need Cash in Japan?
- Japan Trip Planner
Disclosure: Lists By Lukiih is readers-supported. If you buy through an affiliate link on this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks!
Is Japan Expensive To Travel To?
Japan is one of the most expensive Asian destinations to visit. Along with Singapore and Hong Kong, Japan is often considered a luxury destination in Asia.
However, Japan can be visited on a budget with some advanced planning, making it a place that’s friendly to travelers with a wide range of budgets.
💰 Trip Daily Budget for Countries 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:
*My Cambodia trip could have easily been closer to $85 per day, but I splurged on accommodation.
💰 Trip Daily Budget for Popular Destinations
Here’s how my Japan trip cost compares to the costs of other popular destinations I’ve visited:
|🇨🇷 Costa Rica||$233|
|🇵🇷 Puerto Rico||$182|
How Much Is a Trip to Japan?
Here’s how much money you can expect to spend in Japan on a daily basis and during a one-week trip, depending on your travel style.
🎒 Japan Trip Cost for a Budget Traveler
Budget travelers can expect to spend approximately $60 per day or $420 for one week of travel in Japan, excluding flights.
To travel on a budget to Japan, below are some things you’ll need to do.
Accommodation Budget Tips
- Stay at a dorm room in a hostel for about $20 a night in non-touristy areas and for about $35 a night in cities like Tokyo.
- For 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 be fairly cheap as well, 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.
- Avoid traveling during Japan’s high season, which is during 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.
Food Budget Tips
Japan is a place where you can eat for cheap and find $5 meals, 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, which provide decent meals for less than $5. I had a latte and onigiri (rice ball) for breakfast several times at convenience stores, which only set me back $2 per meal.
If you buy a refrigerated meal, like gyudon, ramen, or pasta, they will warm it up for you and provide utensils.
- 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 and in Tokyo, I ate at a ramen restaurant for $7.
- 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.
- 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.
Transportation Budget 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 period of time and includes access to high-speed bullet trains.
The JR Pass is expensive, so you should know your rough Japan itinerary before getting it. That way, you can evaluate whether getting the pass is worth it.
Entertainment Budget Tips
While many of Japan’s main attractions require an entrance fee, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Japan without paying much. Some of my best days in Japan didn’t require me to pay for any attractions.
- Many popular temples have a small entrance fee, but there is an abundance of other less well-known temples around Japan that are free.
- Similarly, gardens and some bigger parks will also have entrance fees, but many urban parks have free access.
💰 Japan Trip Cost for a Mid-Range Budget Traveler
A mid-range budget traveler, such as myself, can expect to spend approximately $120 per day or $840 for one week of travel in Japan, excluding flights.
I break down my Japan travel budget by category below.
About My Japan Trip
To give context to the expenses below, here’s what you need to know about my trip to Japan:
🗓️ Two weeks. I spent two weeks in Japan visiting five different cities. During my trip, I visited the country’s three most popular cities: Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. I also traveled to some quieter cities in Japan to hike Mount Fuji and cycle the Shimanami Kaido.
☀️ High season. I visited Japan in September, which is the beginning of the high season. Japan has two high seasons: one in the spring and one in the fall.
✌️ Two travelers. I traveled with one other person, so I was able to split accommodation, food, and transportation costs.
📱 International data plan. I didn’t pay for a pocket Wi-Fi or SIM card as I have the Google Fi international plan for my mobile phone.
My Google Fi’s international plan worked extremely well during my Japan trip. You can get a $20 credit when you use my Google Fi referral code here.
💰 Mid-range budget. I don’t aim to travel on a budget, but I’m thoughtful about how and where I spend. I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler and these expenses reflect that.
💵 US dollars. All costs listed in this post are per person and in US dollars, converted from Japan’s local currency, the Japanese yen. The exchange rate was $1 USD = 150 JPY at the time of writing.
Japan Trip’s Total Cost: $2,829
My two-week trip to Japan cost a total of $2,829, including flights.
My trip’s highlights are featured in this 10-day Japan itinerary.
💰 Cost Breakdown for Japan
Here’s a quick overview of my Japan travel expenses by category:
|Category||Cost||% of Total Cost||Cost per Day|
💵 Daily Budget in Japan: $145
My Japan trip cost $145 per day, excluding flights.
A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend $120 per day in Japan. This generally means staying at accommodations that cost about $70 for a single night, eating a mix of food from convenience stores and restaurants, and visiting several of Japan’s big cities.
✈️ Flight Cost to Japan: $796
My round-trip flight from the West Coast of the United States to Haneda Airport in Tokyo was $796.
The cheapest months to fly to Japan are during the off-season in January, February, and December, according to Skyscanner. Booking international flights to Japan three to four months in advance is a good idea for the best ticket prices.
🏠 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 all the places I stayed at in Japan and how much I paid for each one:
|Accommodation||Total Cost||Cost per Night|
|Tokyo Hotel (Nihonbashi)||$179||$36|
|Tokyo Hotel (Shinjuku)||$37||$37|
|Mt. Fuji Hut||$64||$64|
|Mt. Fuji Hotel||$37||$37|
Cost-Saving Tips for Japan’s Accommodations
Here are some cost-saving tips when booking accommodations in Japan:
- Tip #1: Accommodations in Japan can be affordable in non-central areas, but 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 at a ryokan if you have a higher accommodation budget.
- Tip #2: Ryokans, which are traditional Japanese inns, are typically more expensive than mid-range hotels and a decent one starts at around $150. They are usually attached to onsens and provide kaiseki, a multi-course Japanese meal, as part of breakfast, dinner, or both. Despite their higher costs, they’re considered a unique experience that’s usually worth a one or two-night stay.
- Tip #3: Many hotels in Japan will provide toiletries, pajamas, and breakfast sets as part of their accommodation costs. Across all my listed hotels above except for the hut on Mount Fuji, the hotels provided toothbrushes, toothpaste, face lotion, and more.
🍣 Food Cost in Japan: $489
My average cost of food in Japan was $35 per day. Food costs in Japan vary highly; you can eat on a budget or extravagantly.
One of the highlights of my Japan trip was the local cuisine. I share a hack for finding local eats in Japan and a list of foods to try.
Cheapest Meals in Japan
Here are the cheapest meals I had in Japan:
|Onigiri & latte breakfast||7-Eleven (Tokyo)||$1.50|
|Udon, natto & miso soup||Nakau (Kyoto)||$3|
|Octopus gyudon rice bowl||Chidori Shokudo (Ikuchi Island)||$10|
To eat Japanese food on a budget, you can find meals for $3 to $10 at convenience stores (namely 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 had in Japan:
|Premium beef shabu shabu||Gyū Kimura (Kyoto)||$52|
|Premium beef yakiniku||Arakawa (Kyoto)||$43|
|Multi-course tofu set||Okutan Nanzenji (Kyoto)||$23|
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’ll be able them for reasonable prices.
🚆 Transportation Cost in Japan: $374
My average cost of transportation in Japan was $26 per day.
Here are all the transportation methods I took in Japan and how much I paid for each:
|Japan Rail Pass (7-day pass)||$232|
|Bike rental (2 days)||$41|
|Train tickets & day passes||$40|
|Bus tickets to Mt. Fuji||$16|
|Coin-operated luggage storage (4 times)||$12|
|Uber/Taxi in Kyoto (2 rides)||$9|
|Bus from Haneda Airport to Tokyo||$9|
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.
Cost-Saving Tips for Japan’s Train
The best way to travel around Japan is by train. Here are some cost-saving tips when riding Japan’s trains:
- Tip #1: JR Pass. Many trains in Japan are operated by JR, the same group that operates all the bullet trains (called shinkansen). 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 period of time, is more economical. For my Japan itinerary, I got the 7-day JR Pass because it was cheaper than buying individual rides.
- Tip #2: Day passes. Some local transportation, like Tokyo’s local trains, offer a cheap day pass that’s usually cost-efficient if you’re taking the train more than three times in 24 hours.
- Tip #3: IC cards. This is more of a convenience tip, but you’ll notice that a lot of places in Japan, including public transportation, convenience stores, restaurants, and vending machines will accept IC cards like PASMO and Suica. An IC card is simply a rechargeable travel card that you can get to make navigating Japan easier.
✨ Entertainment Cost in Japan: $155
My average cost of entertainment and activities in Japan was $11 per day.
Here are all the activities I paid for in Japan and how much each cost:
|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 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 other proper Japanese etiquettes.
Free Activities and Attractions in Japan
Here are some of the attractions and activities I did in Japan that were free:
- Walked around the extremely popular Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine complex in Kyoto
- Hiked up Mount Fuji, which is technically free, but you need to pay for transportation and accommodation if you want to split the trek into two days
- Caught the sunset at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s free observation deck on the 45th floor
- Walked around and enjoyed the silence at Tokyo’s urban parks, including Yoyogi Park and Shinjuku Central Park
- Visited and enjoyed the silence of the smaller temples in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district and Philosopher’s Path
- Explored the bustling lights of Tokyo’s Akihabara and Osaka’s Dotonbori districts
Cost Breakdown by City in Japan
Below are my trip expense breakdowns for Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. If it’s your first time traveling to Japan, these three major cities are typically on the itinerary.
I also spent time in the following places:
- I stayed at Gotemba, a nearby city of Mount Fuji, to hike up the iconic volcano. I spent $139 over two days while doing the hike.
- As part of the Shimanami Kaido two-day cycling activity, I stayed on Ikuchi Island and Imabari City. I spent $223 cycling the route.
🍱 Tokyo Cost Breakdown
I spent a total of $597 over six days in Tokyo, so my average cost was $99 per day.
In Tokyo, I stayed at two hotels in the Shinjuku and Nihonbashi areas to be reasonably close to major train stations like the Shinjuku Station and the Tokyo Station. I paid to visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, watch an Olympics Qualifiers volleyball game at Yoyogi Stadium, and sing karaoke with some locals.
Tokyo is the most expensive city to live in Japan, but it’s not the most expensive city to visit. With a plethora of restaurants to choose from and sights to see, you can explore Tokyo on your own for free or hire a local guide to optimize your time there.
|Category||Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
⛩️ Kyoto Cost Breakdown
I spent a total of $616 for two days in Kyoto, so my average cost was $308 per day.
Kyoto is where I splurged more on accommodation as I stayed at a ryokan and a nicer hotel located near the Kyoto train station. I also spent more on dining, as my two most expensive Japanese meals were also here.
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), but the city also has many free temples, like the ones found on the Philosopher’s Path or in the Arashiyama district.
|Category||Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
🐙 Osaka Cost Breakdown
I spent a total of $50 during my day trip to Osaka from Kyoto.
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.
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, there are plenty of English-speaking guides that offer street food tours.
Do You Need Cash in Japan?
Although Japan has a good credit card infrastructure, a significant part of Japan’s economy is still largely based on cash transactions. This is especially true once you wander outside its major cities, so make sure to bring some cash.
Here are some tips on bringing and using cash in Japan:
💴 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 otherwise. For example, I had trouble finding an ATM on the outskirts of Japan during my ryokan stay.
💵 2. Carry more than $40 worth of cash per day in Japan.
You’ll need at least $40 in cash in Japan to cover food, transportation, and attractions on a typical day for a mid-range budget traveler. Your cash daily expenses in Japan 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.
Every time you ride Japan’s trains, you’ll have to calculate the price based on the distance you’re riding and buy a disposable ticket accordingly. If you want a rechargeable card to avoid having to calculate the price every time and minimize how much cash you need to carry, you can buy a PASMO card.
I spent approximately $200 in cash in Japan and here’s how I used it:
🏧 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, like Nishiki Market in Kyoto and Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka
- Several restaurants in both major cities and smaller towns, including at restaurants that specialize in tofu, fluffy pancakes, ramen, and conveyor belt sushi
- Several cafes and dessert places, including a popular matcha place in Kyoto and an ice cream stand in Onomichi
- Some of the smaller shops, especially in less accessible areas (e.g., at the top of the Fushimi Inari in Kyoto)
- Train stations kiosks. None of the kiosks took my Chase travel credit card, so I used cash for all my train rides.
- Coin-operated lockers (as the name implies, these lockers only accept coins)
- Some of the smaller temples in Kyoto
- Most of the vending machines
💰 4. Tipping in Japan is not customary.
Japan does not have a tipping culture and you’ll find that Japanese people will refuse tips even if you offer or insist. This is because locals feel like you’re already sufficiently paying for their service.
See other essential Japan travel tips 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 as well as an itinerary, packing list, and map with key places pinned.
The trip planner is built on Notion, which is what I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.
Japan Travel Guides
- 🇯🇵 Planning a Trip to Japan: 11 Practical Things To Know
- 🇯🇵 10 Epic Days in Japan: A Unique & Active Itinerary
- 💰 Trip to Japan Cost: 2023 Travel Cost Breakdown
- 🌋 How To Climb Mt. Fuji: My Subashiri Trail Experience
- 🚲 How To Cycle the Shimanami Kaido: Complete Guide
- 🙅🏻♀️ Etiquette in Japan: 12 Things Tourists Should Not Do
- ☀️ Visiting Japan in September: Tips + What To Know
🧋 This site is run entirely by me, Lukiih. I spend hours researching each destination to ensure its accuracy. If you find my tips helpful, say thanks by buying me bubble tea!