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What budget will we need in Japan?

Berlin, Germany
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What budget will we need in Japan?

Hey everyone,

my boyfriend and I are planning a four week trip to japan. So far, we know we definitely want to go to Kyoto and Tokyo and we'd probably be quite happy to basically stay in each for two weeks.

Of course we knew that Japan will be more expensive than SEA, but it now seems soo expensive that we really need to think about what the budget would have to be like.

So, asuming the folllowing: We want to try and sleep in cheap doubles rooms, some days even in dorms, manga cafes, karaoke bars, public baths if that turns out to be cheaper. We're hoping to go for lunch and dinner (getting breakfast from the supermarket or so), but we're both vegetarian, so it has to be vegetarian food (quite happy to eat ramen every day, but are they always vegetarian or are they cooked in chicken brooth or something like this?). Also, we really like cute, little cafes, so maybe two or three coffees a day would be nice. We're quite happy to walk around a lot and we would like to see temples and shrines (but we don't absolutely have to go to museums or art galleries etc), and we'd also like to visit an Onsen bath.

Can anyone give us tipps on how much we should budget for an average day? (obviously, souvenirs excluded)

Would it be cheaper to, e.g., stay outside of Tokyo and Kyoto and travel in by train/tube?

Thanks very much in advance!

Stockholm, Sweden
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1. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

This site gives a good idea about travel costs:


Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

I will only give a little advice to some of your questions.

You can stay in business hotels, or hostels if you want. Most business hotels offer a free breakfast, usually Japanese style. You of course would have to pick and choose if you are vegetarian.

I am not vegetatrian, but I am sure people can anwer your questions about that, but most ramen is based on a fish stock or pork stock.

Cute little cofee shops may cost more than you think. Temples and shrines are either totally free, or fairly inexpensive (and you can usually always visit part of it for free). Museums are not expensive.

In Japan you will find Tokyo the most expensive city to stay. Personally I would not spend 2 weeks there. Osaka can be cheaper than Kyoto, but you still have to factor on the time and money to commute between Osaka and Kyoto

If you don't want to buy a rail pass because of cost, you can always buy a Willer Bus pass and even save my taking overnight bus that you can sleep on...it won't be the best sleep of your life, but if you can do it you can save money on hotel costs as well. You don't have to use the pass on consecutive days, and you can get a 3 , 4 or 5 days pass. They have some model routes on their website. That would let you see a lot more of Japan than just Kyoto and Tokyo.

(check their fine print about dates, etc)


Stockholm, Sweden
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3. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

If you want to stay in Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka for a week or longer, you might want to look at low-cost apartment hotels. They tend to offer very low rates if you stay a week or more. Since you will have a (basic) kitchenette, you can self-cater some of your meals and cut down on food costs.

My favourite apartment hotel chain in Tokyo is Tokyu Stay. Their hotels usually have washer/dryers in each room, which is great for longer stays. The rooms might not always have a kitchenette, but will at least have a microwave: http://www.tokyustay.co.jp/e/

Weekly Mansion is even cheaper. Their hotels tend to be rather old and no-frills, but if you are ok with that they should be ok. They have a few hotels in Osaka as well: http://www.wmt.co.jp/en/

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4. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

As MapleG says (with lots of other great advice), many foods have a fish or pork stock broth. Fish stock is so ubiquitous that the waiter may not even think of it, because there are no identifiable bits of fish. Search Japan Forums for VEGETARIAN for more discussions. Here are two with detailed information:



Washington, DC
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5. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

Stay in the city in a business hotel $150ish a night or a Ryokan which can be had for potentially around $100 (talk to tourism bureau to make arrangement).

A must have is buy the railpass Out of country. You get a HUGE discount vs. buying in country - and travel around. Four weeks will be a great vacation and going to smaller cities will get much cheaper rates.

Takayama, Nikko, Kyoto, Nara and Koya-San (gorgeous!!!) were excellent. Staying at ryokans average cost per night under $100. Easily can find them under $100 and sometimes with breakfast. Rail pass though is key.

BTW with food, the food courts in the malls have huge discounts on food at night an hour before closing. Good opportunity to grab something. :)

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6. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

You might find something useful in the Welcome Inn reservation center. They are here: http://www.itcj.jp/eng/index.php

Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

You can do better than a $150 a night for a business hotel for 2 people.

Hong Kong, China
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8. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

You should be able to get business hotel rooms for 8,000 Yen, or around USD100. There are even cheaper options you can consider.

Staying two full weeks in both Tokyo and Kyoto is a bit of a waste. Both are great cities to visit but with the amount of time you have, you can go to many more places. If you find a JR Pass too expensive for long distance travel, go with the highway bus. Willer Express offers a good value bus pass:


Kanazawa, Japan
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9. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

You've gotten good advice about travel. I'll comment on vegetarian food.

You will Need to be more careful than you think to avoid meat and fish. Most dishes contain them in one form or another.

Hot noodle soups are fish or meat based as a rule. This includes ramen, udon and soba. The prepared food found in supermarket deli sections is risky if you either don't know the dish, can't read the label, or both. Those nice looking boiled vegetables and tofu - boiled in dashi, which is fish based except in specifically vegetarian places like temple dining. Potato chips seem like a nice snack (or other salty snack) - watch out because many use meat extract for flavor and unless you can read you won't know. Curry - the roux is made from meat extract, so unless you go Indian and ask don't eat curry. Vegetable curry on a curry restaurant menu is the same curry they serve for all varieties, premade, with various things like vegetables, cheese, eggs, fried pork cutlets, etc. added to the dish.

Ordering salads be specific about meat - they are often served with bacon or ham. Okonomiyaki and takoyaki can be ordered without the meat or fish - the staff will think you are nuts - but the mix that the batter is made from usually contains dash powder - fish - and/or meat extract. The sauce is not vegetarian.

Chilled tofu with tsuyu (sauce) looks innocent - but it's normally served with shaved dried fish flakes. Onigiri - rice balls - if you can't read, the chances are high you'll get meat or fish.

What can you eat? Onigiri - ask for umeboshi or salt. Inari sushi, kappa maki (cucumber roll), Indian restaurants are easy and have English speakers (from India). Italian food is risky but not impossible. Shojin style dining - Buddhist temple food - but not cheap or common. Udon or soba, cold only with sauce on the side - ask if it contains dashi, and if so, it's got fish. Eat the noodles plain. Tempura, but no sauce (dashi in it). Fruit. Yogurt. Cereal. Plain rice.

Skip the miso soup (dashi) and anything that has been simmered. Even tamagoyaki, the Japanese style egg that is like omelet and served sliced in obento and sushi contains dashi so is not suitable.

Coffees in cute cafes can be very expensive. Starbucks is usually cheaper, and Starbucks isn't cheap. 3 stops a day could be ¥3000 for two of you...¥500/cup is pretty average cafe price. It can be less (sometimes) but canbe more too.

Food may be your biggest issue. Without reading ability you have risk. And meatless, fishless choices are fewer when you are on a budget - a good restaurant can prepare dishes especially for you, but cheaper places may not have the capability to do that. Supermarket foods you need to be very careful. Perhaps skip prepared foods altogether and buy fruit and vegetables.

There are some vegetarian restaurants, more in big cities than small. Macrobiotic restaurants are rare but do exist and might suit your needs. It'll require careful searching and perhaps a bit of money. A place I go sometimes has macrobiotic lunch for I think ¥800. Small place though that you wouldn't find unless you were looking.

Food budget - minimum I'd allow for someone with no special requirements would be ¥3000/day. If breakfast is included, you can get a nice lunch for ¥1000 or less, then have ¥2000 for dinner. Just last night my family of 3 had Indian, vegetable pakhora, squid, 3 curries, 2 breads (one naan and one kulcha), 2 mango lassies and 2 beers for ¥6500. We brought home more than enough for today's lunch.

10. Re: What budget will we need in Japan?

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