How Much Did Your Japan Trip Cost?

Thursday January 31, 2013   

“How much did your Japan trip(s) cost?”
I get this question a lot.

I decided to write my usual answers in a post. Basically so I can just link to it when someone asks because 25 messages back and forth isn’t fun for either party. And though I really don’t like discussing money, I understand why it’s asked.

photos from my past Japan trips

Honestly, I find the question difficult to answer.
Because unless you live in Washington DC, stay at the same hotels for the same length of time buying similar stuff and eating similar foods and times that by 2 people (the perils of married life) our budgets will likely look quite different.

Airfare is the most costly part of my trips to Japan. DC to Tokyo is on average $1,200 round-trip per person. My flight takes about 20+ hours.

Hotels vary greatly. For Tokyo I prefer staying on the edge of Shinjuku. There’s a 12-hour time difference between DC and Tokyo so I like the plethora of late night & 24hr places located in Shinjuku for when I’m awake at 2 or 4am. Keio Plaza Hotel & Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku are examples of places I’ve enjoyed staying at while in Tokyo.

I budget more than I expect to spend.
If I think I’ll probably spend about $2K on shopping I make sure I have $3K set aside. It’s a safe buffer for unexpected purchases or fees like parking, luggage, room service, etc.

photos from my past Japan trips

For budgeting I always start off with what I want to do on the trip.

Pretty obvious, huh? I’ll have stores or cafes or day trips already in mind and I budget around those ideas for metro fare, food costs, bus fare, taxis, etc. I also usually know what I want to shop for be it makeup, beauty item, or clothing.

I like to recommend Good Luck Trip to help spark ideas. They do have sponsors so they may recommend the same touristy place over & over. But I did find Ainz Tulpe through them which helped me get most of the beauty products and makeup I wanted in a single store visit!

You can budget down to the exact fare you’ll need for day trips just by using Google Maps and choosing the rail directions. It’ll display the fare for each stop or transfer. You can also check rail fares and highway bus fares online too.

Because of all these variables I don’t think mentioning my exact costs is useful. I’ll just say that for us, our tax return roughly covers the cost of one trip (2 people.)

Entries about my Japan trips are all tagged “Japan trip” and show some of what I did, where I went, and what I bought while there. I’ll say that my 2008 trip was the most expensive because we traveled to Mt. Fuji and stayed at a ryokan with a private onsen and ofuro connected to our room.

It really depends on what you do, where you eat, where you sleep, how long you stay, and how much stuff you wanna buy.

I’ll end this entry by saying,
“How much would a trip to Japan cost you?”
Probably a few thousand.


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17 Responses to “How Much Did Your Japan Trip Cost?”

  1. cin says:

    nice info! it’s hard to say isn’t it! i think it’s best that the traveller research about costs themselves because the costs will be different.. for my case i’ve travelled with before with as little as $500 to as much as $2000 in spending money because of the different circumstances. also flight costs differ depending on the seasons. XD

    • jenny says:

      Agreed, this is exactly the point I was trying to make. I get that people might want to do similar things as I have on my trips but then I’ll find out that they are flying solo, live in a different country, want to stay for a shorter period of time. I hate telling them too large of a number which could discourage them especially if their circumstances means they’d pay a lot less!

      I didn’t even mention the roll of exchange rate or seasons! My first trip the dollar was much stronger 100Y – 110$ where as last time it was more 100Y – 83 cents. Easily a couple hundred dollars difference in ticket costs alone!

  2. Maho says:

    Great post. I always wanted to do a trip to Japan but I worried how much this would cost. A few thousand sound quite expensive but including flight and hotel stay…that’s okay, I guess.

    • jenny says:

      You can definitely do it cheaper than I have done in the past. I’d recommend looking at packages that include staying in hotels a little further out from the main Tokyo districts. It’s still crazy easy to travel around Tokyo without staying in Shinjuku, Shibuya, etc. :) And traveling there off-season helps with flight cost :)

  3. Michelle says:

    It’s not surprising that a trip to Japan would cost a few thousand. The last time I went there I spent a week and a half (school trip included hotel stays, bus expenses, flight, breakfast & dinner, and museums) and it was roughly $2,000(?) at the time. That was a couple of years back, too. My boyfriend and I wanted to go to Japan for a week and I was expecting the cost to at least double in the amount. Plane tickets are no joke, though. I wince every time I look at costs of flights and hoping that I score a major deal when I plan out a trip.

    • jenny says:

      If you double that amount (so 4k) & stay for a week you should be able to find something nice within that range. I found booking no more than 3 months (and no less than 2) in advance is a good sweet spot for deals. Further out 3 months & the hotel specials aren’t taken into considerations. Going on the edge of off-season too helps bring down costs leaving you more for shopping, dining, etc! But yeah, no matter how you slice it those damn tickets are still so high.

  4. Cindii says:

    Great post! This was very insightful. I think these same concepts could be applied to planning any vacation. I love to plan ahead – where to eat, sight see, etc.

  5. Jenny says:

    wow that is a lot of money. must stop buying dolls!! :P always wanted to go to japan, but… that’s a lot to remember & i kinda suck at that kinda stuff. SOME DAY~~~

  6. Elisa says:

    I dont know, i really want to go to japan. Its more than 14 hours for me to go there i think but im not sure how much i am willing to spend for it. I would feel broke when i go back though lol. I normally spend 3000 eu or something when i go to hongkong for 2 weeks :/ it would be way more than that when i go to japan i think since things are way more expensive there

  7. Sofia says:

    Of course it’s different depending on where you’re traveling from and what kind of food standards you want to keep during the trip and stuff like that haha ^^ I’m a planning freak so I usually plan exactly what each meal per day will cost and details like that. I don’t want to carry too heavy luggage on my way home so I never shop very much (at least not heavy stuff) either. So I stick to my budget pretty well every time I go there :)
    I too prefer being around Shinjuku. “Shinjuku Sunlite Hotel” where I stayed during October was pretty cheap, and 13 minutes walk to Shinjuku Station (or 3 minutes to Shinjuku Sanchome) … Ah, this makes me want to go back again!

  8. Mai says:

    Thanks for sharing this post Jenny! I know I’ve personally bothered you in the past for places to visit so I could imagine you getting emails from tons of people about it.

    Also, do you have a link or the name of the hotel you stayed in Hakone? I was thinking of doing something similar with the onsen connected to the room.

  9. Kate says:

    This is a great post with good links for helping to plan and budget — thanks for that! :)

  10. jessica says:

    hi jenny! i love your blog, and i find your notes on japan and japanese beauty products especially appealing. my husband and i came back from a trip to hokkaido last month, and i bought not one but THREE bottles of aroma charge after seeing your review of it. keep up the good work!

  11. Honeydew says:

    Thanks for sharing the info. I can understand why it’d be different for everyone as not all people who go to Japan will go to the exact same places, spend the exact same amount or eat the exact same food. I guess it’s best for one self research on their own. But it’s also nice to know where to get good hotel deals and how much to expect transportation to cost there.

  12. sukipooki says:

    Thanks for all the info! I personally love Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku and have only stayed there the few times I’ve went. I also think they discontinued the limousine bus service there but it’s okay since you can always get off at the Shinjuku station anyways since it’s so close. I also try to keep in mind the currency exchange rate at the time. The first time I went the rate was great, 1000yen was about 10$cad but the next few times I went it was 1000yen to 13$cad! I also enjoy going during low seasons too because of the great rates for hotels etc. but also because there are also a lot less tourists too! (Jan-Feb is my fav!) Again thanks for sharing all this information!

  13. Melissa says:

    Hey Jenny,

    After putting together the cost of flights, accommodation, rail pass and travel insurance it’s roughly 2.5k at the moment for my friend and I. We’re going at the end of Nov/early Dec and finding that places are getting booked out quickly. Did you use a rail pass in Japan? Do you think we would need one? We are having a hard time figuring it out. The travel agent says we would (but you can’t always trust them!).
    It’s $304 for a 7 day pass and $504 for a 14 day pass per person. We’re only going to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto for 12 nights.

    We are thinking we would need a budget of 4k if we include food, shopping, tours and Disneyland!

    The trip has definitely exceeded our expectations.

    Let me know what you think :)


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