HOW TO TRAVEL : JAPAN

I never wanted to visit a country twice unless I was passionate to go back, Japan has convinced me and it hasn’t failed my expectations. From the high-tech city of Tokyo to the zen-like nature of Kyoto, I have put a travel guide for planning and budgeting your trip to Japan.

Accommodation

HOSTELS/RYOKAN

I haven’t stayed at a hostel in Japan so I can’t provide too much info, but I know (like all accommodations) room prices usually differ from room layouts and private ones. I have stayed in a ryokan hostel which I personally recommend if you want to experience a traditional Japanese inn. The difference is that you will sleep in a tatami-matted room.

Price – For a normal hostel price you are roughly looking at ¥2000 per person/night as the cheapest option. A ryokan hostel will be slightly more depending where you book.

Where I Stayed – I’ve stayed at a 2* ryokan hostel called Costa Del Sol which has 8.0 rating on Booking.com. For 3 nights in Kyoto it cost me ¥28800 which is £207 with private bathroom.

BUSINESS/HOTELS

Be prepared for the hotel rooms as it’s quite common for them to be small even for the price you pay. Standard hotels provide more amenities, cleaning services and snack vending machines. Public transport is located within reach of the hotel.

Price – Western style hotels (international chain) will usually cost you around ¥8000 per night where business hotels are more standard and comfortable for travellers which is around ¥6000 per night.

Where I Stayed
Sep 2015 – My first accommodation was at a 4* hotel called Tokyo Metropolitan Edmont which has 8.8 rating on Booking.com. For 13 nights in Tokyo it cost me ¥185000 which is £1,359.75.
April 2017 – I’ve stayed at a 1* hotel called Weekly Uehonmachi which has 7.4 rating on Booking.com. For 3 nights in Osaka it cost me ¥22,500 which is £161. I travelled to Tokyo and stayed at a 3* business hotel called Sotetsu Fresa Inn Ochanomizu Jimbocho (similar to Premier Inn) which has 8.6 rating on Booking.com. For 5 nights it cost me ¥62400 which is £447.

OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS IN JAPAN
Temple Lodgings, Minshuku, Pensions, Capsule Hotels, Manga Cafes, Love Hotels.

Look out for amenities in your hotel. My favourite was the green apple bath salts. I pampered myself every night with them (Sotetsu Fresa Inn Ochanomizu Jimbocho)

 Food

There is no mistake that Japan has one of the most finest and quirkiest cuisines in the world. Which do you choose?

Groceries – Ranging from snacks, drinks and pre-packaged meals will cost you around ¥4000-6000 a week depending how much you don’t eat out. My favourite convenience stores are FamilyMart and 7-Eleven. This is a good alternative if you’re in a tight budget and they have a small area where you can sit down and eat your meals.

Ramen Bars – You definitely need to stop by a ramen bar at least once when you’re in Japan. The cheapest ramen you can find will cost around ¥600 but the best ones can cost upwards of ¥800-1000. The pork broth makes the whole dish worth while. TIP – The best way to eat your noodles is to slurp! No seriously, it’s good manners in Japan.

Fast Food – I don’t normally like to eat at fast food restaurants while on holiday, but I know there are some fast food chains that does it better then at home. An example is the McD’s Egg Cheeseburger and Filet-O-Shrimp. A set meal be around ¥500-600. Other Japanese fast food restaurants will cost a little bit more.

Street Food – Delicious and quick to eat, but guess what? Tourists love them. Street food in Japan is not cheap. Yakitori is ¥500-600, Takoyaki is ¥500, Mochi is ¥300-400, Ice Cream ¥300.

Yakitori – The best place and time to enjoy yakitori is at the bar just around evening time. You can hear the cheers and laughters from businessmen or people who just enjoy a night of socialising and drinking/eating. Yakitori will probably cost around ¥100 each. Of course the portion won’t be enough to fill you up so you’re expecting around ¥3000.

Character Cafes – Have you always wanted to visit a cafe with your favourite character on it? We mean actual characters on your food and drinks. I went to Miffy Lekker Cafe and the time and effort to not only make the food taste good, but also the presentation. The cheapest I saw on the menu was ¥890, my chicken curry and rice was ¥1,390. It’s fun, cute and mostly popular with women (young and old) and children.

Other Places – If you enjoy good quality food from BBQ/grilled beef and sashimi/sushi it will cost you around ¥5000-8000 or more. Expensive, but the experience is worth it especially if you appreciate good meat. The wagyu beef I’ve purchased cost around ¥5000 just for six slices. This is a little bit cheaper then most of the restaurants.

One of my favourite Japanese dishes is a bowl of fresh tuna and salmon with steamed rice

 Transportation

Transportation in Japan is very efficient, easy to navigate and the cleanest. The price not so much.

IC CARDS

Suica, Pasmo, Icoca .etc. are Japan’s most popular IC cards. They are very handy when you travel around and shop, you can even use them on vending machines.
You can get an IC card from the local train ticket machines. You must pay a small deposit but if you return the IC card to machine at the end of your trip, you will get the deposit back.

TRAINS

According to tokyocheapo an one-way ticket on the fastest Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto cost ¥13,710 (2 hours 20min). Hikari is more cheaper but longer to travel on. If you’re going to travel a lot in Japan I would highly suggest getting the Japan Rail Pass. 7 days is £199, 14 days is £318 and 21 days is £407 (depending where you book but those are the standard prices). Visit this page for more info. You can travel anywhere on the Shinkansen, but the pass is only valid on the Hikari and Kodama trains when traveling between Osaka and Tokyo. Visit this page for more in info. Remember, make the most out of your JR Pass. IC Cards and tickets are also important to have when travelling on trains and buses as the JR Pass is only valid for the JR transport services.

BUSES

Buses are considerably cheaper and affordable especially if you’re not in a hurry and on a budget. Sometimes travelling by bus is better because they travel through routes that trains don’t. The cost will vary depending on the distance you travel. Simply enter from the back and either touch your IC Card or grab a ticket. When you’ve reached your destination exit to the front and touch your IC Card or pay the fare with your ticket (make sure you have the exact change).


Free/Activities

There are a lot of free activities while travelling in Japan. The temples and museums are mostly free, some of them you would need to purchase a ticket to enter but that can range from ¥400 upwards. If you’re thinking to do lot’s of site seeing I would suggest booking in advance and getting a package or an one day pass. They will usually cover unlimited use on some train lines and buses.

Yasaka Shrine is well known for its summer festival. It’s free to enter.

 Want To Save Money?

– Travel by bus/walk
– Get a JR Pass before your trip to Japan
– Eat at the convenience store
– Purchase one day passes for several activities
– Shop at ¥100 and ¥300 (3 Coins) stores
– Shop at Daiso for souvenirs or for everyday things
– Stay at a guesthouse, internet cafe or capsule hotel
– Buy snacks and drinks at the drugstore
– Seek drink vending machines that has the ¥100 sign

How Much To Budget?

This is what my partner and I did. We saved £1200 each (¥167,729) to accommodate for food, accommodation, travel, activities and shopping. Flights do not come in the budget but if you’re curious we’ve paid £400 each for the ticket, we’ve booked 6 months prior. We separated the hotel, activities and food money in one section and the rest to ourselves. This is how we allocated it (based on two people)

*Please note, all prices shown below are based of these conversion rates*

Food – ¥6000 a day (£42.80 | $54.90)
Travel – ¥6000 each for 2 weeks (£42.80 | $54.90)  (this is with our IC Cards not JR Pass)
Accommodation – ¥113,700 for 2 weeks (£811.70 | $1040) (booked in advance on Booking.com and paid at the hotel once we arrived. This covers Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo)
Activities & Shopping – ¥126300 for 2 weeks (£901 | $1155) (Entry Fee’s, Souvenirs etc.)
Returned Home – ¥50,000

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *