29 Aug

Travel To Japan: What Does It Cost (Part One)

During our RTW trip we tracked every sole, peso, riel, lira, euro, dinar, rupee, baht, kip, dong, ringgit and rupiah mostly out of necessity as we were on a backpacker budget and needed to know exactly what we had spent and exactly what we had left – even if it took us forever to figure out the conversion!

This time, as we travel to Japan, we’re going to track every yen because yes, we still have a budget. Granted, it is not a backpacker budget this time, but it is a budget all the same.

I also want to make our budget public because, once again, finding information about how much it costs to travel in a place is difficult to come by. It is getting better; there is more information out there about what people are spending but it always helps to contribute to the knowledge pool. So, just like last time, we’ll be posting our budget spreadsheet when we get home.

Sometimes coming up with a tracking spreadsheet can be daunting. I like to keep it simple then I’m more apt to actually use it rather than being overwhelmed by it. Here what we’ll be tracking:

  • Date – this will give us a sense of per day costs although many items are amortized over the entire trip (flight costs for example).
  • Type – there are five categories; accommodation, transportation, attractions, food&drink, and miscellaneous.
  • JPY Cost – if we pay for an item in Japanese Yen then we’ll show that cost in this column.
  • CDN Cost – here we’ve taken an average conversion of 77 JPY per CDN dollar – the conversion will vary but this should serve our purposes. Some items we have already paid for with our credit card and were charged straight to CDN dollar so there is no JPY noted.
  • Comments – here is where we’ll detail what the item actually is. This will help us further break down the categories and remind us exactly what we paid for.

We’ll keep a notebook with us and just quickly jot down our expenses as they happen and enter it into the spreadsheet when we get a chance. It’s really not that onerous at all. Here’s a screen shot of how simple the spreadsheet really is:

Japan Budget Spreadsheet

Notice something? Yep, we’ve spent just over $7000 and we haven’t left yet!! Japan is going to be expensive.

Wait a minute though – a lot of those expenses are in-country expenses, meaning we have paid them up front so we won’t have to pay once we’re there. It includes flights and train tickets (gulp…that was expensive…but I’ll give a full report as to whether the JR Rail passes were worth it. I hear they are more than worth it so we’ll see.) as well as tickets to the Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo. SUMO, people!!

It also means that 20 nights of accommodation are already paid for. We’ll only have to pay up for about a weeks worth while we’re there. Granted, some of those nights are some of the most expensive nights there. Staying in ryokans and temples is hard on the wallet but should be priceless in terms of experience.

This is most definitely NOT a backpacker budget but we weren’t planning on a backpacker trip this time. This is why we dropped Japan from our RTW itinerary…so we could come home, save, and go when we could afford to do it how we want to.

Stay tuned to see how much the whole trip costs us!

**Click Here to see Travel To Japan: What Does It Cost (Part Two)**


13 thoughts on “Travel To Japan: What Does It Cost (Part One)

  1. I was super worried about including Japan on our RTW trip because it was so expensive. But you know what? Even though Japan is certainly one of the most expensive places in Asia (and maybe the world), it’s actually not nearly so bad as I thought it would be. Granted, Tony & I are not doing as many splurges as you two likely are because $7k on one country would just be too much, but we are still having a great time and managing to stick to a rough budget of $150/day… really not too bad when you consider how easily you can burn through yen (and how crummy the exchange rates are for us Westerners are right now)! We’ll be posting a detailed look at our expenses for Japan after we have left the country (I’ll spill our secret: we’re heading to Hong Kong next! And that’s not likely to be much cheaper! ;) ), so it will be interesting to compare and see how we both did!

    One big tip: if you’re going to splurge on meals, you might want to do so at lunch time. Many restaurants do wonderful set lunches for a fraction of what you would pay for dinner. Also, you can great cheap meals in subway stations, train stations, department stores (nearly all have a floor devoted to food), and yes, convenience stores! Not every meal needs to be a feast and these places are great for getting meals that are only about $10 – 15 pp.

    Also, the JR pass is totally worth it! Spendy, yes, but I’ve calculated that we saved around $300 per person by getting one. And honestly, just being able to wave your pass and get on any train without worrying about purchasing tickets are the price of a ticket is heaven. Plus, the bullet trains are SWEET. So sad our pass is no longer valid!

    So excited for you guys! I know you will have a WONDERFUL time in Japan
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Capture the Colour

    • Yes, it’s important to remember that we will be traveling for a month and that this is NOT a backpacking trip. Although we will be mindful of budget (and will be using some of your tips Steph!) we are able to spend a bit more this time which will give us a different experience.

      I’m glad you commented Steph and I hope everyone checks out your budget report when you get it done – it will be a good comparison.
      Gillian recently posted..Travel To Japan: What Does It Cost (Part One)

  2. It’s actually possible to stay in Japan for much less. The biggest expense is genrally accommodation, but if you stay in Osaka instead of Kyoto and Nara (only 30 minutes or so by train), you can find a Japanese style room from $10/night, although $20-$30 is more realistic if you don’t speak Japanese. Just check out the area around Shin-Imamiya station.
    Similarly, the Sanya area in Tokyo also offers relatively inexpensive accommodation options. Sakura House (sakura-house dot com) is another good option for those staying more than a few days.
    Daniel McBane recently posted..First Hasselhoff, Now Money Boy: Thanks a Lot German Speakers

  3. The JR passes will make a huge difference! All of the expats in Japan are jealous that they’re unavailable because the train prices add up really quick. You’ll just need to be careful to only ride JR lines as the passes won’t give you a free ride on lines run by other companies.
    Nate recently posted..Jogasaki Coast

  4. I really appreciate you sharing your detailed expense trackers! I found your site recently as I am beginning to plan for a RTW, and my partner was frustrated at the lack of solid numbers/costs available. I was so excited to find your RTW spreadsheet! I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly examine it yet, but I know it’s going to be really useful as we plan.

    I like this simple tracker too, especially the way you handle costs in local currency vs. your home currency. I have a 2 week trip to Italy/Tunisia coming up and I started an expense tracker but wasn’t sure how to go about totaling up all the different currencies. This is a clear and simple way to see it (and keep track of what larger expenses you will need take care of in-country).
    Katie recently posted..photo.JPG

  5. If you’re travelling alone, hitch-hiking can be fun and cheap. Japanese people almost never hitch-hike, but they still happily pick up foreigners, however rough they look.

    If you find somewhere you like, please review it on JapanTourist.jp. We offer points for every article or photo story posted. Points can be exchanged for goods and services. We hope this will help to make it slightly cheaper for visitors.

  6. I’m not terribly surprised from these numbers. Airfare to Japan is expensive and I got lucky that I only bought a one way ticket (got bit by my second one-way home from Singapore though!). I agree with all the comments that accommodation is the most expensive part in Japan and the rail pass isn’t the cheapest, but definitely worth it. I think for 4 weeks in Japan with a one-way ticket in only I spent about $3,300 just for me. My average hostel cost was $30/night US though, so that is the big one there!

  7. Will be interesting to see part two of this post and see how much you guys ended up spending in total! We just spent 16 days in Japan and with the help of couchsurfing almost the entire time (only spent 2 nights in a hotel) we kept our costs down to $73 a person a day which is still a lot for the backpacker budget but nowhere near as high as we originally thought it would be.
    Vicky recently posted..A Couple Travelers By The Numbers – September ’12

  8. Although I think that just about anywhere in the world can be done relatively cheaply (Russia, especially Moscow, being one exception) not every trip has to be on an ultra-tight backpacker budget. When I did my long RTW, I skipped a lot of the uber pricey countries knowing they’d quickly bust my budget. But now, I take shorter trips to some of the more expensive places and it’s easier to splurge when you’re only traveling for a small amount of time. I’ll be interested to read how your Japan expenditure goes. Hope the trip is going well!
    Reena @ Wanderplex recently posted..Road test your clothes before you travel

  9. Pingback: Travel to Japan: What Does It Cost (Part Two)One Giant Step

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