How much does a day in Tokyo cost? It's a question that often comes up. In a recent post we looked at the 3 most common mistakes people make when planning a trip to Japan. One of those was thinking it will be prohibitively expensive.
So just how much does it cost to spend a day in Tokyo? Read our handy quick guide to find out...
How Much Does It Cost To Spend A Day in Tokyo?
by Reese Jones
Japan - Setting Tourism Records
For many people, Japan is a bucket list type of destination.
In 2019 the country welcomed 31.9 million foreign visitors — up by 2.2% from 2018 and setting a record for the 7th consecutive year. Impressively, Japan set that record in spite of Typhoon Hagibis, the biggest storm to hit it this decade. 2020 - well, we all know that story.
That, during normal times, Japan is hitting tourism records isn’t at all surprising given its numerous attractions and the many activities visitors can do here, including the 10 most popular ones we listed previously, like watching sumo training, visiting the Tokyo National Museum, and eating in a kawaii cafe.
Concerns About Costs
Having said that, some might actually be putting off a trip to Japan due to concerns about costs. It is, after all, one of the world's most developed and most sophisticated nations, and, quite frankly, looks like an expensive country to visit.
But how much does one day in Japan's capital city really cost?
Will it cost you an arm and a leg?
The answer, fortunately, is not necessarily, as long as you're willing to pass up on the country's more expensive attractions, like eating Kaiseki at Kitcho, which can set you back around $580 (¥60,000).
So, without further ado, below is a sample calculation of your main expenses for a day in the bustling capital of Tokyo.
Eating - Bang For Your Buck Meals
A good way to enjoy Japan is to experience authentic Japanese cuisine. It's a good thing that bang-for-your-buck meals are available everywhere, especially in Tokyo.
In fact, it's quite easy to enjoy a variety of typical Japanese dishes for $19 (¥2,000) or less. You can have breakfast at a convenience store, then grab lunch and dinner at various budget-friendly fast-food restaurants all across the city, like like ramen, gyudon, curry rice and sushi.
Food: $47.50 / ¥5,000
(Breakfast $9.50 / ¥1,000, lunch $19 / ¥2,000, dinner $19 / ¥2,000)
Transportation - Getting Around Tokyo
The best way to get around Tokyo is by taking the trains of the Tokyo Metro, as its trains can take you pretty much anywhere around the capital.
Taking the Tokyo Metro is cheaper and more convenient than flagging down a cab. Though its sheer number of lines can be confusing at times. Fortunately, you can download the official Tokyo Metro App for free, so you can better plan your trips.
The best part is that you can buy a one-day pass for only $7.60 (¥800)! Read more about using public transport in Japan in this post.
Travel: $7.60 / ¥800
Sightseeing - Tokyo's Best Attractions
With that one-day Tokyo Metro travel pass in hand, you can get to explore a number of Tokyo's best attractions, including the ancient Buddhist temple of Sensō-ji in Asakusa, Ueno Onshi Park in Taitō, and Kiyosumi Gardens in Fukagawa.
Admission to both Sensō-ji and Ueno Park is free, though you might want to pay $5.89 (¥620) for a guided tour of the latter.
Entrance to the Kiyosumi Gardens, on the other hand, is only $1.43 (¥150). You might want to visit the usual residence of the Emperor of Japan, the Imperial Palace, as it is also free of charge.
Siteseeing: $7.31 / ¥770
Shopping - Plenty For The Bargain Hunter
What's a visit to foreign soil without some shopping, right? Well, you're in luck here as there are plenty of shopping areas in Tokyo perfect for the bargain hunter.
100 Yen Stores
Notably, Japan is home to ¥100 shops, where you can score a wide variety of items priced at, yes, $0.95 (¥100), or even less. One of the most popular ¥100 shops is arguably Daiso, which has branches scattered all over Tokyo.
The biggest is the Daiso Giga Funabashi branch, though it's just a bit outside the capital, right next to the Funabashi Station. It's a massive, six-story store, and you'll likely find a few things you'd want to take home.
Shopping: $28.50 / V3,000
Assuming you don't binge-shop!
Splashing Out On Shopping
Happy to indulge your shopping habit a little? You can get advice from a local fashion expert and shop in Tokyo with your own personal stylist. You can even take a shopping tour in Tokyo visiting a famous shopping street to understand Japanese consumers!
How Much Does A Day In Tokyo Cost?
In all, based on the examples above, one day in Tokyo will cost you an estimated $90.91 (¥9,570) per person, excluding accommodation.
(Check out this post if you're looking for cheap, but decent, accommodation in Tokyo.)
Total Cost Per Day Per Person: $90.91 / ¥9,570
Including accommodation in our calculations, the total estimated cost will be around $132 (¥13,770) — provided you are not too picky and are willing to stay in a capsule hotel, whose per-night charge is usually around $40 (¥4,200).
Booking.com has a list of the 10 Best capsule hotels in Tokyo based on customer ratings.
Total Cost Per Day (Including Accommodation) Per Person: $132 / ¥13,770
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A nice hotel averages $125 US a night for two (similar quality to an average US chain hotel, but smaller). Check hotels.com, Agoda.com, or other hotel sites.
Sometimes the hotel breakfasts, now and then, are nice and run $10 to $20. You can spend $ 600 to $5000 a day for a very nice hotel if money is of no object.
I budget about $50 a person for food and $20 for other. For two people I average about $250 (125 pp) a day total on a three week stay plus about $700 pp for a green car 3w rail pass and I will hit three of the four big islands and about 14 cities.
The average retail cost of the train tickets I use in three weeks would be over $4000 pp if without the $700 JR pass. This includes, on average, using the First Class (Green Car) Shinkansen about 15 times.
Thanks for sharing your experiences Brek.
Always really helpful to see exactly what other people are doing and how much they are spending.
Good job. IMO, the costs can be even lower than this.
1) Food: $47.50 / ¥5,000 = That is not bang for the buck! These are costs that will cover a proper sit-down meal at a decently good restaurant. If it’s real bang for the buck, then it can be done for as low as 2000 ~ 2500 yen (incl. good quality takeaway bentos from high-end department stores or restaurants)
2) Accommodation costs = I am assuming the approx. 4000 yen per head cost has been given on the basis of a twin-sharing private room. But, if you’re willing to book private rooms in hostels, the costs will come down per head to 3000 yen (double occupancy). Bunk beds in hostels start for 2500 yen per night. If you’re willing to rough it out, you can stay at an offbeat place like an internet cafe – with your private room, 70% reclining seats, high-speed internet with desktop, manga collection, free coffee/tea, toiletries, common shower, etc. for as low as 1600 yen. So, yeah, costs can go down.
But, good job – we need more information on travel/stay in Japan!
Thanks for sharing your insights and positive comments Ramesh!
Yes, these prices are meant as a general guide rather than showing just how cheap it can actually be.
So, as you say, it is certainly possible to get the cost down further still if you want or need to.
Good tip on the internet cafes. I once used one many years ago. They’re not for everyone but are definitnely a bargain!
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Not bad at all Rob, wow. I think Tokyo and assume hundreds per day. $132 is excellent for such a bucket list trip to a land with a high standard and cost of living. Well done. Good to know for when we eventually visit.
Thanks Ryan. Good to hear this post has given you a better insight into what’s possible in Tokyo on a modest budget.