Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Japan budgeting, behind the scenes of a travel family's expenses in for 3 weeks in Japan
"How much does it cost?" This question is on everyone's lips, and to be honest also our own. We had tried to make a budget, but when the plan is to travel for 1 year across 20+ countries, it quickly becomes a guessing game.
Now, we have our first real data to share. We have traveled for 3 weeks in Japan as a family, and now to the big question, what did it cost us?
We knew that Japan would be one of the most expensive destinations we would visit, but we had so many great memories and friendships there, that we could not pass the opportunity to re-visit and to show the boys this wonderful country.
We were a little nervous ourselves to open the budget app to get the final update…Reality is, like with most other places, that Japan is only as expensive as you make it.
Budget Overview and Huge Disclaimer:
Thank you so much!! We are fortunate to have good friends who invited us out for dinner several times which make the budget a bit lower than it really is. When they come to Denmark we will show them a good time and the budget will re-balance 😊
So, Lets Break Down Costs:
Where did we stay: Largest expense is always "living" so where did we stay:
We used both Airbnb and Hotels. Airbnbs can be both cheap and expensive. We stayed comfortably at around 50 € a night. This will get you a small, but nice and clean apartment centrally located in Tokyo or Osaka.
We also used more expensive ones and actually the most expensive place we stayed was an Airbnb apartment in the heart of Kyoto where we opted for more space and newly renovated. Still, this was only 110 € pr night.
Our rhythm has been to stay 3 nights at the same place and then move to a new area. We have been fortunate to find some very good hotel deals at nice 3-4 stars hotels. We have used Booking.com and Agoda and got some very good deals booking only 2-4 days in advance. The average daily cost for these hotels was around 90 € a night.
So, with this in mind, we averaged at 80 € pr. night for accommodation in Japan.
Btw, if you want, you can use this code (https://booking.com/s/ae0d0f7f ) to get an additional 10% discount on all your bookings at Booking.com, and each time we also get 10% on our next stay.
What Did We Eat:
Japanese food is so good and this was another area that could run loose for us.
We were jet-lagged when we arrived, and kept the jet-lag going for 2 weeks.... 😊 . This meant that we got up very late everyday and basically ate breakfast around noon.
As a result it felt natural to have just two full meals on most days with some small snack in addition.
For our main meal we ate so much sushi… Yes, almost every day. We love the Japanese style of running sushi with 2 conveyor-belts. 1 for the pick what you want and the other for your specific orders. In some places this was even delivered by the bullet train. Check the first 10 seconds of the video below.
Running sushi is also a rather inexpensive model since our kids mostly ate Tamago nigiri which is the omelette sushi. It changed a bit though once they took a liking to the fatty tuna 😊 If you keep to one or a few piece of the very expensive Nigiris, like Toro (fatty tuna) or Sea Urchin which are around 8 € a piece, then running sushi for 4 people would cost us around 50 €.
We also found some smaller places which were also super good and more or less same price.
Once, however, we made the mistake once of misinterpreting the menu. Instead of getting two nigiris pr serving you only got one. We did think that the prices were a lower than other places so we ate well....really well. When we got the bill we realized our mistake. This sushi adventure cost us 110 Euros 😊
We could not resist the rest of the delicious Japanese food; Japanese table style BBQ, Wagyu beef etc. We got to taste Chicken sashimi (raw chicken) and outsource Sake.
To manage our excitement, we kept to one main meal pr day being a little more expensive and then some street-food or Ramen nudels which would be cheaper, typically around 25-30 € for the four of us.
A few nights we even just went to 7/11 and got some rice-balls.
With this in mind we averaged 85-90 € pr day on food.
What did we buy: We found an outlet where we rather cheaply bought three pairs of Nike sports shoes for the boys and dad, sorry mom, total of 150 € on shopping.
What did we see: Entrance fees to museums and attractions were generally cheap and super attractive. We visited both sciences, innovation, and nature museums and got massive value for our money. Even the kids loved it, as you can check out here in their own description in the Kids' Corner.
The largest amount we payed was at TOEI Film Studios where we spend 100 € for entry and rides for the four of us. It's much smaller scale than Universal Studio or similar, but it's a very authentic Japanese set-up. So, even though this was the most we spend, it was a very reasonable cost for a day of fun and culture.
In total, we spend 360 € on attractions and museums.
So, all in all, we spend 4500 € on three weeks.
We experienced all the things we dreamed about, ate the fantastic Japanese food and lived in nice places.
So, don't be alarmed, Japan is not as expensive as rumour has it.