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Living Cheap in Tokyo Japan

Updated on May 1, 2014

I wouldn't even say budget because budget implies that you are making sacrifices for what you can get. At no point did my partner and I ever feel like we were having to settle due to money issues. Compared to what you pay back home (for us, that's Australia), Tokyo Japan prices are absolutely fantastic for the average traveler.


Accommodation in Japan is expensive, plain and simple. A single room in a hotel (and by single room in Japan I mean a bed that comes all the way to all four walls) could set you back around $150 a night, which to me is impractical.
The best places to stay are at hostels. I know what you're thinking - you dont want to be bunking with 28 other sweaty backpackers listening to the sounds of drunking stumbling and forication every night, concerned for your safety and security. But you can find a great hostel which can offer a double bunk bed private room for $20 a night ($40 for two people). Considering space is going to be an issue wherever you stay it's a no brainer not to take advantage of the bargin prices you can get from hostels. Not to mention the added bonus of having many other tourists comming and going that are more than happy to share their travel tips and recommendations.



This may not be an issue to some but me, I like to have a drink, and this is where your holiday budget can go out the window in a single evening in most places if you're not careful. However there are two beautiful things I found in Japan to combat this- Izakias and 7i (Japan version of 7 Eleven).

7i - Pretty much every street corner in Japan has some form of a convenience store. Not only do they sell a lot of awesome hot food, but almost all of them double up as a liquor shop and are open 24 hours a day. You can get any sort of alcohol from spirits to beer, but my personal favorite is a Japanese drink known as Strong. Strong is a sweet premixed drink that is made from something called Shuhai. It can range in strength and size but the best value for money is their 500ml cans of 9% alcohol... for around $1.50. Yep, pretty much wrote off the trip once I found these babies at 9am one morning.

Izakias - An izakia is a type of bar/restaurant that serves a wide range of bar style Japanese food and drinks for very very cheap prices. You are given you're own private booth where you can chat and drink and eat with your friends and be as loud as you like without upsetting anyone. Most izakias have a doorbell on each booth that you can press to call in the water for more food and drinks. At the end of a drunken stupor of an evening after many hours after arriving and you're presented with the bill, you won't often have to break a $50 between four people.

awesome for only 100 yen
awesome for only 100 yen
Grilled offal and garlic shoots
Grilled offal and garlic shoots


Now evening meals in Japan can be quite breathtaking and as such can often attract a high bill. If you like to eat out often eat out for lunch, because in Japan the bill is usually about half the price of dinner.
Bento Boxed - There are many smaller places which will sell cooked, prepackaged bento boxes for around $2.50. These bento boxes are much larger than any I've seen before and I always had trouble finishing them. They come with a variety of options, my favorite being rice, fried chicken and picked vegetables. Also towards the end of the day a lot of places will drop their prices; I've often picked up a bento at the end of the day for around $1/$1.50. Now these places are takeaway only so you do have to find somewhere to eat them (Japan frowns upon eating in the street, but not drinking!). Grab a Strong and find a nice park, or just take it back to the common room at the hostel and you're set for dinner and you haven't event spent a fiver.


This is another great part about Tokyo. Unlike some of the other places I've traveled you just don't need a lot of money to keep yourself busy. Everything is so ahead of its time in Japan, from the cutely painted drain covers on the street, to the giant robots being driven around the city to promote a club. Having a day 'at the part' has never been more interesting - it seems as though (perhaps because of the small living areas) that everyone spends their time outside. Down at Yoyogi Park in Harajuku you will find everything from musicians to acrobats to magic, all free and all just for fun. And this isn't just a weekend thing, this happens every day of the week. Even the signposts are set to impress.


Nishikawaguchi - a fantastic place to stay


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    • kolastyles profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Australia

      Nice one cheers! Looking forward to heading back in a few weeks :)

    • KawikaChann profile image

      Kawika Chann 

      4 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      I love bentos!! Never been, but one of my dream locations to visit - thanks for the tip on hostels - staying in a hotel there was the one thing that would zap the money out the trip very quickly. I could so see myself living off Strongs and bentos... lol... Upvote/useful. Peace. Kawi.


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