Travel

Is Japan Expensive?

Are you dreaming of a trip to Japan but worried about the costs? Don’t fret! We’ve put together a guide to help you understand how much things cost in Japan, how to exchange and withdraw money, and how to make the most of your Australian dollar. So, let’s dive in and find out if Japan is as expensive as you think!

AUD vs Yen

Australia and Japan are often seen as “expensive” countries, but the cost of living can vary depending on your budget. While some things in Japan may be pricey, others are surprisingly affordable. For example, a bottle of water costs less, a taxi ride costs more, and breakfast is about the same as in Australia. So, it’s all about finding the right balance!

How much to bring?

The amount of money you should bring to Japan depends on the type of adventure you have in mind. Whether you’re planning a long and luxurious trip or a short and budget-friendly one, your daily budget will be determined by your activities and the duration of your stay. Here’s a rough guide:

  • Budget holiday: Less than $100 AUD/day
  • Mid-range: $100-250 AUD/day
  • Luxury: More than $250 AUD/day
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How much do flights cost?

The cost of flights from Australia to Japan varies depending on the time of year and the departure city. Winter is considered an off-peak season, except for the New Year holidays and other peak travel seasons like cherry blossom season in spring or the Golden Week public holiday. Direct return flights on full-service carriers from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth range from $700 to $1000 AUD, with special fares available on selected dates.

Flights

How much does food cost?

Food is one of the biggest reasons Australians love Japan! Luckily, food prices in Japan are comparable to, if not cheaper than, Australia. You can sample something new every day without breaking the bank. Here are some estimated prices for common food and beverages:

  • Breakfast: $5-15 AUD
  • Lunch: $5-20 AUD
  • Dinner: $5-35 AUD

A cheap $5 meal could be something from a bakery or two onigiri (rice balls) from a convenience store, plus a drink. So, you can enjoy delicious meals without burning a hole in your pocket!

How much does accommodation cost?

Japan offers various types of accommodation to suit every budget and style. From Western-style hotels to traditional minshuku and ryokan (B&Bs and Japanese inns), you’ll find a wide range of options. Here’s an idea of what you can expect to pay per night:

  • Western-style accommodation:

    • Youth hostels: $30-75 AUD/night
    • Capsule hotels: $40-75 AUD/night
    • Mid-range (business hotels to 3-4 star hotels): $100-250 AUD/night
    • Luxury: More than $300 AUD/night
  • Minshuku and Ryokan (B&Bs and traditional Japanese Inns):

    • Budget: $70-100 AUD/per person, per night
    • Mid-range: $100-250 AUD/per person, per night
    • Luxury: $500~ AUD/per person, per night
  • Shukubo (temple lodging): $110-230 AUD/night

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Many minshuku, ryokan, and temple lodgings include two meals, dinner, and breakfast, making them even better value for money than they first appear!

Accommodation

How much does transportation cost?

Transportation costs in Japan can vary depending on your mode of travel. If you’re exploring a city by local trains, metro, or subway, a day pass will cost you around $10 AUD. If you plan to travel long distances and want to make use of the shinkansen (bullet train) network, consider getting a Japan Rail (JR) Pass. Here are the prices for the JR Pass:

  • Ordinary:

    • 7-day: Adult 29,650 yen ($401 AUD), Child 14,820 yen ($200 AUD)
    • 14-day: Adult 47,250 yen ($639 AUD), Child 23,620 yen ($319 AUD)
    • 21-day: Adult 60,450 yen ($817 AUD), Child 30,220 yen ($408 AUD)
  • Green (1st class):

    • 7-day: Adult 39,600 yen ($535 AUD), Child 19,800 yen ($268 AUD)
    • 14-day: Adult 64,120 yen ($866 AUD), Child 32,060 yen ($433 AUD)
    • 21-day: Adult 83,390 yen ($1,127 AUD), Child 41,690 yen ($563 AUD)

Taxis can be expensive, especially for long distances, but they are convenient for shorter trips. Rental cars are also an option if you prefer to drive yourself.

Transportation

Do you tip in Japan?

In Japan, tipping is not customary, and in some cases, it may even be politely refused. So, save your money and don’t worry about leaving a tip unless you’re dealing with tour guides, interpreters, or some innkeepers.

Exchanging and Withdrawing Money in Japan

You can exchange major currencies, including Australian dollars, at banks, post offices, and large hotels in Japan. Money changers can also be found near popular tourist areas and at airports, although fees may be high. It’s often better to withdraw cash from participating ATMs, such as those found at 7-Eleven convenience stores, Citibank Japan, Japan Post Bank (Post Offices), Mizuho Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and MUFJ (Mitsubishi UFJ Bank Group).

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Using credit and debit cards is also becoming increasingly common in Japan, and major cards like MasterCard, Visa, and AMEX are widely accepted. However, smaller establishments may still prefer cash, so it’s a good idea to carry some for smaller purchases. When using your Australian card in Japan, choose to be charged in Japanese Yen for better exchange rates.


FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about the cost of traveling in Japan:

  • Q: Is Japan expensive to visit?

    • A: Japan can be affordable if you plan your budget wisely. There are options for every budget, whether you’re looking for budget-friendly choices or luxurious experiences.
  • Q: Are meals expensive in Japan?

    • A: No, meals in Japan can be quite affordable compared to some other countries. You can enjoy a variety of delicious food options without breaking the bank.
  • Q: How much should I budget per day in Japan?

    • A: The daily budget in Japan can vary depending on your travel style. You can plan your trip with a budget of less than $100 AUD/day for a more economical experience or go for a mid-range or luxury budget if you prefer.
  • Q: What is the best way to save money on transportation in Japan?

    • A: Consider getting a Japan Rail (JR) Pass if you plan to use the shinkansen and other JR transportation extensively. It can provide great value for money. Also, using local trains and metro systems can be cost-effective for exploring cities.

Conclusion

Japan is not as expensive as you might think. With careful planning, you can enjoy the beauty, culture, and delicious food that Japan has to offer without breaking the bank. From flights and accommodation to food and transportation, there are options for every budget. So, start saving and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun!

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For more information on planning your trip to Japan, visit iBlog.

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