Japan is more affordable than we expected

A few years ago, when we were choosing which countries to visit on our round-the-world trip, we decided against visiting Japan.  We were sure that it would be over our modest budget. However, our friend, Stephen, was so enthusiastic about Japan, we decided just MAYBE we could travel simply in Japan.


East Garden of the Imperial Palace – FREE!

Would it be possible?  We booked AirBnB apartments in Tokyo and Kyoto for much less than hotels would have cost and allowed us the use of kitchens and washer-dryers. Transportation costs were negligible because we walk almost everywhere. Food had been our biggest surprise. Modest Japanese-style meals cost less than we paid for equivalent meals in Washington, DC.  Sightseeing?  We spent very little.


The National Museum of Modern Art – FREE for seniors

We were surprised that our visit to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace was free and even more surprised that The National Museum of Modern Art was free (for seniors).  Another free activity should not be discounted, rambling the streets; we saw so much by just walking down the streets every day.


Art installation observed on a stroll in Tokyo

We walked up to the main road on our first morning in Tokyo ready to eat.  A window display of appealing noodle dishes looked just right so we entered a very small restaurant. Vending machines greeted us at the door.   We recalled reading a blog and knew just what to do.  We searched the photos of dishes, found which we wanted, dropped coins into the machine, pushed the button for our selection, and out popped a receipt.


Make your selection

DSC06189 - Version 2

Put yen into machine and punch in your selection

We repeated that sequence for another dish.  Then we took the receipts to the counterman – also the cook. He asked, “Soba or Udon?”  We said one of each. He nodded approval. A few minutes later, our meal was ready.  Total cost for 2 of us: 8,000 yen (about $8 US).


Time to eat!

Of course, you could spend more money to see interesting things, but we’ve had a fine time and haven’t sacrificed at all to stay within our budget.  We’re glad that our assumptions proved to be wrong and that Japan can be affordable for the simple traveler.

September 2013

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, Japan and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Japan is more affordable than we expected

  1. We went to Japan during the spring.
    The cherry blossom was amazing.
    We rented a car and it was great.

  2. Lady Caladium says:

    I like the photo of the East Garden. It sounds like you had a good time. I’ve found that Japan can be both inexpensive and expensive, depending on what you do and how much research/planning you do beforehand. Are you still in Japan? Did you (or are you going to) head anywhere else in Japan?

    • Yes, your “inexpensive or expensive” view fits with our experience. Because we’re traveling for 14 months — rather than touring for a week or two — ours is a “less is more” approach. We will only visit Tokyo and Kyoto during our two weeks in Japan. Next we go to China.

  3. Jean Alaba says:

    Glad you decided to tick off Japan in your list. 🙂 I’ve been there thrice these past few months thanks to budget airlines from the Philippines. I found that you can visit Japan on a budget as long as you plan carefully your itinerary and learn from the tips given by bloggers who’ve been there.

  4. Gretchen Hall says:

    Yes the Japanese instant food system sounds very like the automats of long ago New York City. Except there, the actual food was in the little box behind the glass so that you accessed it directly rather than twiddle with receipts and such. Glad all is going so well!

    • We both are old enough to have used the automat in NYC. On Joe’s senior class (high school), the first thing he did was go to the automat. We hadn’t made the connection with the Japanese system. Thx.

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