The Traveller's Magazine icon
The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Travel myths don’t take long to form, you hear them in passing, read traveller’s bad impressions on forums, word of mouth… But sometimes, often times these travel myths aren’t even true! The first one we’re going to tackle is a popular one we’re sure you’ve seen before, “Japan is expensive!” But in truth, it’s less expensive than Europe.

Hotels: Ryokan for less than £20

Property prices in Japan, especially in Tokyo, are among some of the highest in the world. Highly priced properties doesn’t mean highly priced hotel rooms. You can stay at a ryokan-styled hostel in the Asakusa district for less than £20 a night.

A ryokan is the Japanese version of an English Bed & Breakfast. It is more traditional in style but you’ll find the service very personal and the hotel cosy. Many are housed in historical houses that have been renovated, giving an authentic touch for your accommodations in Japan. You can find ryokan inns for every budget, even a backpacker’s budget. The value of the experience and services for your money is in any case is unbeatable.

Tips: Book you accommodations before leaving, never leave it last minute. This means you’ll have to plan your trip a little bit. Share a room with your fellow travellers instead of opting to bunk alone. You can find ryokan when you search for hotels in Japan on Expect to pay 3,000 Yen a night per person at a ryokan or minshuku.

Eating: Sushi bars and ramen for less than £5

There are very few destinations that offer travellers as many food options (and healthy ones at that!) than Japan. From sushi bars to ramen restaurants where you learn to choose your noodles like a local at the neighbourhood restaurant. Cheap food is one of the most gastronomical experiences you can have in this country. In Tokyo, the restaurant chain Yoshinoya specialises in sautéed beef bowls and is really popular with Japanese youth. You can enjoy a full meal here for less than £5.

For going out at night in Tokyo, we recommend the Golden Gate district in Shinjuku. You’ll find an assortment of curious and interesting little bars and clubs and drink prices are very reasonable. Very few do not accept foreigners, so you shouldn’t have a  problem finding one that suits you. If you’re really adventurous, head to Kanda in Chiyoda where Tokyo’s business class workers go to drink.

Sightseeing: Wandering is free!

You can visit temples, gardens, street markets and Japan’s electric towns all for free! There is a world of cultural experiences waiting for you at street level and in public spaces. Japan is exotic enough that you’re cultural appetite can be satisfied easily, so walk and wander. There is something interesting and new around every corner. Even your first time going down into the metro at Shibuya will make an impression on you, one you won’t soon forget.

Jizo alley in Nikko (img: KimonBerlin / flickr cc)

The eccentric Akihabara in Tokyo will keep you busy for a few days, as will the temples in Kyoto. When thinking back, it’s usually the things that didn’t cost a pence that you remember most from a trip. In Nikko you can stroll down the path lined with statues representing Jizo, a Japanese divinity who is known to protect children. You can find statues like these along many roads and in graveyards. Narabe Jizo has rows and rows of these statues, carved hundreds of years ago and its completely free to visit! This is just one example of Japan’s many free wonders.

Transportation: Rail passes and airline tickets

One thing in Japan is expensive: their public transportation. Single journey tickets are the most expensive. How to avoid it? Before leaving for Japan, grab a rail pass. Which one you buy will depend on how long you’re staying in Japan, where you’re planning on travelling and your budget. The JR Pass must be bought outside of Japan and gives travellers up to three weeks of unlimited train use (not including the bullet trains). It costs 28,300 Yen for a week, 45,100 Yen for 2 weeks and 57,700 Yen for three weeks. These prices may seem high to you, but compared to a single ticket, the savings are huge.

Finding a flight to Japan is easy, especially from London where there is a lot of competition for the London-Tokyo route. This means you’ll find even more competitive prices. You can also fly into Osaka or Nagoya. If you look far enough in advance you can find flights, round-trip with all taxes included, for less than £400.

Search for an airline ticket London – Tokyo on

If you have other tips on how to travel in Japan for cheap, leave a comment below!

Looking for your next trip? Find the best flights with us!

13 responses to “Travel Myth Buster: Japan is expensive

  1. I’m goin to japan (osaka, kyoto n tokyo) next month…I’m wondering bout the price of clothes or accesoris? is it very pricey?

    1. I think it all depends on where you shop. If you stick to the shopping malls and big-box stores you’re going to pay a lot but if you shop rather at the markets (where prices are more flexible) then you’ll find better deals.

  2. Hey Suzy, would love to hear some of your own budgeting tips from your travels!

    Thanks for stopping by and for the twitter shout-out,


  3. Nice solutions to squash the myths about Japan being expensive. It seems like most people say that about most places, but they just don't know how to make their experience more budget friendly.

  4. Like so many other places too, it's so true. It you really search out the deals and stay off the tourist trail there are plenty of deals to be found!

  5. Oh my god there were so many, it has truly been the best trip I've done so far. Among my favorites were Hiroshima, just for the good vibe this city has today (good bars, nice atmosphere), this place in Nikko… I had the chance to stay a week with a family in the small town of Atami, near Fuji, which was a unique experience. Also I liked Yokohama, a chinese vibe city near Tokyo. Go to Japan if you can afford the flight !

  6. Yes it always annoys me when I hear this. Japan is just as cheap (or expensive) as you want to make it. You can eat lunch or dinner for ¥500 if you want.

    Great article – thx

  7. I confirm, if I remove the cost of my flight which I booked last minute, I have done a cheaper 3 weeks trip in Japan, than a 3 weeks in in Italy ! Japan is cool !

Leave a Reply

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

footer logo
Made with for you