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Since I am planning a vacation to Japan this fall, I'd like to have a rough overview about my expenses. I'm flying from Germany (probably Frankfurt) to Tokyo. I know that the flight alone will net me about 1000 EUR, if I'm gonna take a decent one (meaning not flying for 20 hours+).

My stay would be for either one or two weeks, and my girlfriend told me I would have to reckon with roughly 4000 EUR all in all (so 3000 EUR just for living expenses in Tokyo). That seems a bit much to me, considering I would neither be travelling around very much, nor would I be staying in a high-class hotel.

Is a total of 4000 EUR really a realistic budget for two weeks?

  • 2
    The question as such cannot be really answered. Depending on your lifestyle and where you want to live, hotel prices and food prices can vary massively in Japan. – uncovery Apr 15 '13 at 7:13
  • As I said, I'd be staying in Tokyo exclusively. Hotel-wise I would neither stay in a high-class hotel nor would I stay in a love hotel for two weeks. A regular (maybe upper) middleclass hotel would be appropriate. Same goes for food, I'd maybe go out nicely once or twice in the two weeks, but the rest of the time the regular corner food shop would be the place to go. – scd Apr 15 '13 at 7:27
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    A love hotel would actually be more expensive than a high-class hotel. – Michael Borgwardt Apr 15 '13 at 7:43
  • I'm planning a three week trip in Japan travelling a lot in the country and 2500€ is my total budget, including 600€ flight and 500€ Japan Rail pass. You can do better than that ;-) – Geeo Apr 16 '13 at 19:41
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    @MichaelBorgwardt Love hotels are actually pretty cheap, especially when compared to a regular hotel with the same amenities. – fkraiem Jul 29 '16 at 15:10
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While (as I commented above) this is highly subjective, let me give you some general calculation:

Your 3000 EUR are roughly 390'000 Yen.

The very very decent version

I chose the Mitsui Ginza Hotel for location and took the smallest single room there for 15'500 per day (16'500 on Sundays) for overall 218'000 Yen.

If have breakfast in a Sarbucks you spend about 1000 Yen, so another 14'000 Yen is gone. Let's take 1'500 Yen for lunch, so 21'000 Yen for the week and good quality 8'000 Yen for dinner in average which makes 112'000 Yen. All in all this will make 365'000 Yen. This will leave you with 25'000 Yen for subways and souvenirs etc.

The issue here is that you might run into taking taxis (no trains late at night) which are somewhat expensive and other stuff, so you might run into a shortage in the end. Careful planning is important on this budget. Also taxes etc might be a very tight fit for this but if you manage your costs properly and balance a bit for some days you can have a very decent high-class stay in Japan for 3k Eur.

The budget version

Cheaper version would be a cheaper hotel like the Sakura hotel chain for about 6'000 a night coming to 86'000 for the 14 nights.Breakfast at a convenience store for 500 Yen (7'000), a budget lunch for another 1'000 (14'000) and a much more reasonable dinner for 5'000 (70'000) will get you there with 177'000 Yen spent.

You can check some average prices in restaurants here and Convenience stores to get an overview.

Note: There is no weekly pass for Tokyo Metros. The minimum is 1 month and costs 17'300 Yen - which does not make sense for you.

  • Note that the €4000 include the flight, so it's only 380k yen living expenses. – Michael Borgwardt Apr 15 '13 at 8:32
  • @MichaelBorgwardt oh right, overlooked that. will fix – uncovery Apr 15 '13 at 8:40
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    Budget version would be something like dorm room for about 2400 yen, not a 6000 yen room. – Geeo Apr 16 '13 at 19:42
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I would like to bring a different approach and give an idea of how low one can go in terms of cost. Note that this is not meant to be a comfortable way of travelling, simply a very cheap one. Prices are estimates in USD. Naturally, all this applies mostly only to major cities like Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya.


Sleeping (Check out this question for more info):

  • Couchsurfing = $0
  • Manga Cafes = $10 (Not all manga cafes accept sleepers, but there definitively are. Not very comfortable.)
  • Capsule Hotels = $20 (Somewhat comfortable, plus you gain access to showers.)

Food:

  • Convenience store onigiri = $1 (I found that two onigiri for breakfast did it for me.)
  • Convenience store bento = $5-10 (Plenty of choice, plus you can get them heated.)
  • Izakaya = $15-30 (This can make for a nice and fun supper, choose your dishes carefully as some are expensive.)

Transit:

  • Walking = $0 (It can work if you stay in a semi-small area.)
  • Train ticket = $2-3 (This will enable you to move around much more, combined with walking.)
  • 24 hour pass = $6 (This will make exploring areas that are too far for walking easier.)

Entertainment:

  • Exploring = $0 (Walking around the city can be surprisingly fun.)
  • Temples/Museums = $0-5 (This requires research, but there are many cheap things to do.)

(If you are a university student like me, take your student card, it is accepted in many places for a substantial discount.)


In conclusion, in the worst of worst scenarios and with amazing planning, you could technically get by with as low as $5-10/day or less than $100 for two weeks. Needless to say, that would suck (a lot), you would be eating lots of only white rice and sleeping in some sketchy spots, but it should be doable for the more adventurously inclined.

A much more reasonable yet still low amount is around $50-100/day ($700-1400 for two weeks), with that, you should be able to have a fun vacation and not be bothered too much by the restrictions.

My friend and I stayed one month in Japan and we spent an average of $150/day with no privations whatsoever. Of course, we were not staying in fancy ryokan every night, but it was very enjoyable and I eat a lot.

Bottom line is: Traveling in Japan can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be.

You simply have to make decisions accordingly.

  • +1 Very thorough. For transit, you may want to mention all day rail/bus passes (usually about $6~$10) if travel is planned extensively around one place. – The Wandering Coder Jul 29 '16 at 0:32
  • Good idea, I'll do some research on that tomorrow and add it. – JS Lavertu Jul 29 '16 at 0:34
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    When the original question is in EUR, you should stick to EUR :) – Thorst Mar 15 at 10:41
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3000€ living expenses for two weeks, let alone one week, is definitely too much unless you really want to live in luxury. Decent, low-end hotel prices start at about 5000yen per night, 7000 should get you something perfectly OK - that is about 760€ for two weeks, not including possible bargain rates for long-term stays. And transportation and food isn't that expensive either. I'd say that for two weeks a total budget of 3000€ including the flight is more than adequate, and 2500€ doable.

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