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How expensive is Japan?

Travel Forums Asia How expensive is Japan?

1. Posted by Seany (Respected Member 268 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I've allways wanted to go to Japan and looking into sorting out a trip at the end of the year. Im thinking of getting a flight from the UK to Japan then to Austraila with a WHV. But how exspensive is Japan? Do you get many backpackers in Japan as the prices are high? I will be travelling alone and dont wana get too lonely..
I will be budgeting to stay in cheap hotels and hostels...any one got any guide prices?
Does a Britsh citizen need to apply for a visa? Or am I allowed a month stay? Has anyone worked in Japan and does this need a different visa if so? Are bar jobs easy to get, but I guess they will expect me to know Japanese??

Thanks for any info you can give


2. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I think that the idea that Japan is crazy expensive is somewhat of a myth these days. Coming from the UK you will no doubt find Japan to be somewhat cheaper than at home. I find Japan to be quite comparable to Canada, Australia or parts of Europe in terms of cost of living.
For the most part, food will be cheaper. If you self cater at hostels, you can eat for less than 500 yen (2.35 pounds). Picking up some sushi or a sandwich at a convenience store for lunch will cost you less than 400 yen (1.90 pounds). And even if you go to a cheap restaurant, you can get a good meal for 6-800 yen (2.85-3.75 pounds). In the cities you can find these quick service (buy a ticket from a machine) restaurants that are usually filled with business men on lunch break, where you can get a huge meal of curry, or rice and meat, or noodles , often with some miso soup, for less than 400 yen (1.90 pounds). Of course when it comes to restaurants there is also the option of spending tons of money in nicer places, but if you want to, you can eat well for very cheap.
Ticket prices to tourist attractions are always very reasonable and are never more expensive than they would be at home. Himeji Castles, for example, one of the biggest attractions in the country, is 600 yen (2.85 pounds) which I think is quite reasonable. Sometimes temples are free, and when they do charge its only a couple hundred yen.
Accommodation doesn't have to be expensive, and for the most part, hostels are a whole lot cheaper than you would be in London. There are great hostels in most of the major tourist destinations, and the average price is between 2500-3000 yen (12-14 pounds) for a dorm bed.
The one thing that gets you though is transportation. The trains in Japan are well known for being ridiculously fast and efficient, but they are also insanely expensive. Check out this website and type in a few example cities to find the prices of train tickets. They are not cheap. If fact, between major cities, sometimes is no more expensive just to fly. So that's where the rail pass comes in handy. I've never gotten one so don't know details, but as a foreigner, you can buy a train pass in advance that is good for a certain amount of time of unlimited travel. Many tourists find them to be a much cheaper and convenient way to travel around Japan than buying single tickets. Buses are also a much cheaper than trains, but I find buses in Japan to not be particularly foreigner friendly. Most info is written in Japanese so sometimes its difficult to find schedules in advance.
Sorry I can't help with info on tourist visas as I'm on a working visa. But I can say that if you plan to work, yes, you need a working visa. Japan offers Working Holiday Visas the same as they do in Australia, so you can go that route if you want to work. I've had friends who have done this and ended up getting bar work without speaking any Japanese, but I really don't know how easy it is and I probably wouldn't rely on it as a source of income. The vast majority of foreigners who come to Japan to work (like myself) are teaching English. If you have a degree than getting a job teaching English is really easy (can get hired before going). But you usually have to sign a year contract (occasionally 6 months), so going just for a month probably isn't going to work.

3. Posted by wotthefiqh (Inactive 1447 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Degolasse nailed it perfectly.
I only have one thing to add.
If you want to see outlying parts of Japan pretty cheaply, check out
It gives info on discount domestic airfares on JAL and ANA for overseas visitors to Japan, and it gets better if you are flying into Japan on a 'oneworld' or 'star alliance' airline.
Well worth a look.
As JAL is a member of oneworld (we flew into Japan on alliance member QANTAS), my wife and I got one-way tickets to Naha (Okinawa) from Tokyo for about $105 Aussie dollars (10,000 Yen). I think the normal airfare would have
been about $400 AUD.
For example, you could fly Tokyo-Okinawa(great place)-Kagoshima/Kyoto for about 210 AUD, although the fares have probably increased due to the oil price.

[ Edit: Edited on Jun 29, 2008, at 2:07 AM by wotthefiqh ]

4. Posted by Seany (Respected Member 268 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for all info Degolasse, once again. Some good stuff there. Gona have to look into the travel more for when im in Japan, sounds very expensive from what im hearing


[ Edit: Edited on Jul 2, 2008, at 10:56 AM by Seany ]

5. Posted by Swept Away (Travel Guru 1116 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I shopped in Japan... Clothes are worth it there. I mean considering the design and quality.

I just never thought I could I afford, after listening for ages, how Japan was then the most expensive travel destination.

well I bet accomodations are expensive. But the food? Its like fine dining in the 3rd World.

6. Posted by Seany (Respected Member 268 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I shopped in Japan... Clothes are worth it there. I mean considering the design and quality.

I just never thought I could I afford, after listening for ages, how Japan was then the most expensive travel destination

So how cheap are the clothes? I hear the Japanese are pretty much into their designer clothing, I have a bit f a soft spot for it too. I dont allways like the typical baclpacker appearance!

7. Posted by prendy98 (Full Member 78 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hostel - - 2,940 yen (14pounds) - I stayed here on/off for 3months while I was in Japan..been travelling for over 1 year an this hostel is still my favourite place...a bit expensive for a hostel, but very clean, really cool an helpful english speaking staff that have all been backpackers across europe so know how to look after their guests needs..its also located in the historical area of tokyo and 5mins walk to the subway. Its always busy an full of backpackers from all over the world, trust me u will have new best friends within days and someone to explore the rest of Japan with.

Food - as mentioned by Degolasse, we used the "quick service restaurant" nearly everyday, you find them all over Tokyo..for about 700yen (3.30pounds) you get a load of chicken or pork, with rice, tea an miso soup..its very filling so always went for dinner and its quality food aswell.

Izakaya - - you also you can goto a Izakaya which is very popular in Japan, its basically a restaurant - bar where for a set price usually around 2000yen(10 pounds) you have 2 hr to drink & eat all the food you can..the food can be small in proportion but we order loads and the drink is usually cocktails or sake..had soo many fun nights

Transport - - if your planning on seeing more of Japan then id highly recommend you get the RailPass before u leave for Japan - I didnt and it was a mistake cause the Shinkansen (Bullet Trains) are expensive, but by far the quickest an most convient way of getting around Japan

Drinking & Clubbing - I know i know i was a backpacker an i was drinking & clubbing in Japan, its against the budget travelling rules but i just couldnt resist and went to some of the craziest an best clubs ive ever been in - always a entry charge of about 3000yen (14 pounds) and drinks can range from 400-1000yen (2-5pounds)

I was never meant to goto Japan on this trip but I had been travelling wit a London guy and both of us shared a interest in Japan so we decided to go - that endedup been one of the best decisions we have ever made - fell in love with Japan, the culture and the people are just amazingly friendly...yes it can be expensive..but im in Australia now and trust me its more expensive over her to drink, eat..the advantage Japan has that it has soo much culture that you will always have something to do or see.

Plus we went snowboarding on xmas day & new yrs day and only cost 6000yen (30 pounds) for a 5 Day Ski Lift Pass in the Japan Alps about 4 hrs bus from Tokyo...thats like a fraction of teh cost in Europe or OZ

Hope this helps, and if u need any travel tips or more info then send me a mail


8. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Seany

Does a Britsh citizen need to apply for a visa? Or am I allowed a month stay? Has anyone worked in Japan and does this need a different visa if so?

If entering as a tourist, then a British Citizen does not need a visa.

9. Posted by Seany (Respected Member 268 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Wicked post Prendy, I've checked that hostel out allready, looks like its real busy and and needs reservations for a bed.
The two hour drink and eat restaurant sounds loads of fun, defo gota give that a few goes

But im was wondering, what kinda some of money did you spend while in Japan during your entire stay there? You was there 3 months? Im planning to go from Japan to Australia, with maybe a stop off in SE asia, but i also hear that Oz is far from cheap! Depending on the funds I have, I was thinking a 6month trip and hopefully £5k (excluding flights), how would that seem compared from your trip? I dont wana book more that I can afford!

cheers mate

10. Posted by prendy98 (Full Member 78 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hey Sean,

Well the main thing is that you are going to OZ with a WHV - so if the money is running low after SEA & Japan then u just start work straight away for cpl months an save some cash..loads of work over here in construction an plenty of contract office jobs aswell so depends on the kinda work you wanna do. OZ is somewhat expensive but much the same as UK/Ireland high standard of living but you get paid decent wages so you can endup saving a decent amount.

I did SEA over 4 months including Thailand, Laos,Vietnam,Cambodia,Malaysia,Singapore,Indonesia,Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan..doing loads of tours, some treks and plenty of drinking/eating/shopping, plus we booked some internal flights - i travelled with 3 london guys an we all spent around 3000 sterling...we also all agreed that we could have done it cheaper if we wanted too..but remember that was 10 countries and also the price will come down as we booked flight to indonesia and hong kong along the way

Japan was never on my plans for this trip it was just a random drunken night in Indonesia where we agreed to goto Japan cause we all wanted to go endedup been the most expensive but that cause we travelled around the country alot an went snowboarding for xmas/new years...i reckon in 3 months i spent between 3000-3500 sterling

Now within that 3000-3500 sterling - cause we didnt plan on going to japan we never purchased the rail pass, we got the bullet train on 3 to to hiroshima and hiroshima back to tokyo..that cost us around 300sterling..the snowboaring was extremely cheap an only 4hrs from tokyo that whole package (travel/accomadation/ski lift pass) cost about 300-400 sterling...we also had a big gang in the hostel so we used to hit the clubs far too much haha so you could quite easily knock off 1000sterling off that total of mine

I was out last nite so apologies if im babblin or lost track of ur question