From the seamless mix of ultra modern technology and highly traditional culture, to the world renowned smorgasbord of decadent cuisine, many of us are rightly fascinated by Japan. However due to the widely held belief that the country is excessively expensive to visit, most people file it under ‘I’d love to go but I just can’t afford it’. Well, good news folks, we’re here to show you how with a little bit of effort that doesn’t need to be the case. Here’s how you can afford to travel in Japan.
1. Search widely for accommodation
We’ve travelled to lots of different countries and Japan is out on its own when it comes to the range of accommodation options on offer. From sleeping overnight in Manga cafes to renting a tent in a camping showroom, this place has some seriously weird and wonderful options. So don’t just plump for a hotel or hostel stay because that’s how you usually travel, shop around and get the best deal. We paid £14 per person per night to stay in the central Tokyo camping shop we mention but we found great deals for as little as £6.50 per person per night in other parts of Japan.
2. Don’t waste money on transport
Most first timers to Japan buy a JR Pass and make use of the country's exceptional rail network, however this is by far not the cheapest way to travel between Japanese cities. We used the Willer Express bus system and saved a crazy amount of money. For example a 7 journey bus pass lasts 2 months and will set you back just £115 in comparison to the £209 7 day or £334 14 day rail passes.
Top tip - utilise your time effectively and save on accommodation costs by travelling longer distances on overnight coaches. Also, outside of Tokyo, forget using the metro and be kind to your budget by walking, you’ll get to see far more of the country anyway that way.
3. Be armed with cheap food spots
There’s absolutely no need to be dining at the expensive robot restaurants and high end sushi establishments to experience the delights of Japanese cuisine. Fast food is not a dirty word in Japan and there’s are lots of affordable places such as ‘Hotto Motto’, ‘Yoshinoya’ and ‘Matsuya’ serving up freshly cooked affordable meals for under £5.
When travelling in Japan on a budget, ramen should be your best friend. Forget any replica dish you’ve had at home, true Japanese ramen is on another level and you can eat it for less than £3 all over the country - even in Tokyo. Don’t forget to ask for ‘kaedema’ - extra noodles for your broth.
4. Embrace the free stuff
Before you head over to Japan, do your research on the places you want to visit because from our experience there will be no end of free experiences which make it kinder on your pocket. Lots of tourist offices offer free walking tours on certain days, most of the stunning temples and shrines are free to enter and there is are an abundance of free outdoor spaces to chill in.One of the things many tourists want to do is get up high to see the city views, particularly in Tokyo. Well head on over to Bunkyo Tower in the capital and you can spend as long as you want on their 25th floor observatory deck for absolutely nothing.
5. Minimise your time in Tokyo
Like any other country in world, the capital city is generally where the expense is at. Whether it is accommodation, transport or food, compared to the rest of the country, prices are higher, and Tokyo is no exception. So in order to save some dosh minimise your time here and instead opt to spend more time elsewhere. We absolutely loved Fukuoka beach in the south of the country and also found tonnes of stuff to do in Hiroshima which many tourists often only reserve for day trips.