Japan is the only country in Asia that political scientists actually label as a western. In other words, it’s as expensive as they come.
So when a few of my new friends on the Runaway Thailand tour asked me to lead an impromptu tour through Japan, I was pretty hesitant.
Heck yea I wanted to return to the mother land and feed rice balls to kittens in cat cafes. I wanted to test out my beautifully crafted route that I had spent weeks formulating for the official Runaway Japan tour. I also wanted to hangout with my crazy cousins in Kobe and overly generous host family in Yamanashi.
Unfortunately, I knew I just couldn’t afford it.
Fortunately, my friends Ali, Watson, & Stephanie wouldn’t let me not afford it. (Thanks ganstas!)
Before I knew it we had teleported from eating pork pad thai in our beach bungalow to fish egg filled rice balls in a sky high apartment covered in anime figurines.
Although Japan is expensive, thanks to super greasy filling convenience store fried chicken, shared houses on Airbnb, and this years excellent exchange rate of 120 yen/ 1USD, we managed to experience the best of Japan on a fairly decent budget.
Here’s where we spent most of our money during our 10 day tour of Japan.
Although Japan has a hostels, at 3500 円/29$/night, they aren’t all that cheap. So we decided to rent houses on Airbnb instead. Not only was it the cheapest option but it was definitely the most comfortable and private. If you’re new to Airbnb, you can use this link to get 20$ Off your first stay.
1)In Osaka we stayed at the “One Piece House,” a 2 floor apartment in Namba, the heart of Osaka. This place was massive, covered in One Piece memorabilia and super comfortable. Easily one of the best value Airbnb apartment rentals in Japan. Price: 35$/person/night
2) In Kyoto we stayed in a fairly traditional Japanese house. It had 3 rooms and was located relatively close to the famous Kawaramachi street. Unfortunately it rained quite a bit, so we spent most of our time having a sake party in the tatami (Japanese mat) room. Price: 50$/person/night
3) Around Mt. Fuji we stayed in a large house on Lake Kawaguciko. It had 4 rooms, a view of Fuji-san, and was just steps from Kawaguchiko station. The owner, Shota-kun, ran a dumpling truck out of the parking lot, which couldn’t have been more convenient for our dumpling loving crew. Price: 30$/person/night
4) In Tokyo we stayed in a big dump. It was much further from Shinjuku than advertised. And unlike the attractive photos, this place had no beds, a mold filled fridge and no wifi. But hey, you get what you pay for. Price: 16$/person/night
We could have saved considerably by shopping at the supermarket and cooking our own meals. But since we only had a limited amount of time, we ate every meal out.
Here’s an idea of the food we ate and how much it cost us:
- Tuna & Mayo Filled Riceball: 140円/1.17$
- Sushi Bowl with seared salmon and tuna: 750円/6.25$
- Bashimi (Raw Horse): 500円/4.17
- 6 Octopus Balls: 500円/4.17
- Large Beer: 500円/4.17
- Ice cream crepe: 500円/4.17
- Bowl of cold Soba Noodles: 600円/5$
- Average bowl of Ramen: 800円/6.67$
- Udon: 3oo 円/2.50$
- Conveyer belt sushi meal average: 1000円/8.34$
- Mcdonald’s Big Mac Meal: 950円/8$
- Family Mart Fried Chicken: 160円/1.33
Adventures: 19,000円/160$/ 10 days
Fortunately, temples, shrines, museums and parks throughout Japan are very cheap if not free. Unfortunately, Karaoke is not.
Here’s a few of the highlights from the trip:
- 1 1/2 hours of Karaoke: 2300 円 /19$
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple: 3oo 円/2.50$
- Mount Fuji ancient pilgrimage climb to 5th station: 0 円 /0$
- 1 Hour Row Boat In Mt. Fuji’s Lake Kawaguchiko: 2000 円 /16$
- 2 hours of Hotsprings: 900 円 /7.50
- Aki-Matsuri/Fall Festival: 0 円 /0$
- Daibutsu Buddha (Big Buddha): 3oo 円/2.50$
- Mariokart Arcade single game: 2oo 円/1.67$
- Hanging out with my old host family: 0 円 /0$
Transport: 26,440円/220$/ 10 days
Japan murdered us on transportation. The Bullet train cost us around 100$ and the Tokyo Metro really added up. Although busses and even flights are cheaper when traveling long distances, they still aren’t that cheap.
Below are all our transportation costs over 10 days:
- Bus from Osaka Airport to Namba Station: 1540 円/12.84$
- Train from Osaka to Kyoto: 1000 円/8.34$
- Bullet Train from Kyoto to Mishima: 11, 000円/91$
- Bus from Mishima to Kawaguchiko: 2,400円/20$
- Bus from Mt. Fuji 5th station back down to Kawaguchiko: 1500円/12.50$
- 3 Days of Tokyo Metro: 3600円/30$
- Train from Kawaguchiko to Otsuki: 0 円 /0$(host parents drove us)
- Express train from Otsuki to Shinjuku: 1400円/11.68$
- Nartia Express to Narita airport: 4000円/33.36$
So How Much Did We Spend? ( p′︵‵。)
A bit too much >< (Japanese emoticon to express frustration, humiliation, and general dissatisfaction)
- Accommodation: 365$
- Food: 250$
- Activities: 160$
- Transport: 220$
Probably somewhere around: 1,000$ or 120,000 円 /person for 10 days.
We could have eaten cheaper by hitting up more super markets. We could have saved on transport if only we took more busses. We also could have picked cheaper and less spacious AirBnbs.
We definitely could have spent much less. But when you’re with a group, it’s just too easy to splurge.
Although we all ended up a bit broke, we truly got to experience the best of Japan in style.