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Planning Your First Japan Trip, Part 1: Doing the Math

April 1, 2010

The cost of a Japan trip has gone up surprisingly little over the years.


I like Toyoko Inn, which is currently about US$50-$75 (single) or US$80-$85 (double or twin) for a clean, quiet, modern room
with bath, TV, free breakfast, free internet, and a coin laundry. If you prefer a more authentically Japanese experience, if you want to meet more fellow travelers, or if you just want to save money, you should consider traditional inns and youth hostels. And
everyone should try an overnight stay at a Buddhist temple.


I love putting together an itinerary, but I can’t possibly fit all I have to say about that into this posting. So I’ll save that for Part 2 .


Once you’ve sketched out an itinerary, you’ll probably want to buy a JR rail pass: A 2-week pass is about US$460 at today’s exchange rate. To find train schedules and fares between cities in Japan, see Hyperdia.

The Japan Guide web site, “a godsend for Japan travelers,” offers this rough guide to food costs.

That’s it for the biggest expenses. You’ll want to add a bit–say, US$100 to $200 a week for subways, buses, the Shiraishi ferry, presents from the Moooo! Bar, and other incidental but important items.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2010 11:34 am

    Hi, I enjoy reading this info. I want to add from my experience.

    About transportation, if you have time, and no money, I would consider including riding on long distance bus. Some buses are luxury, and comfortable for long hours. I live in Osaka. Osaka to Shikoku, Chugoku area, you can take bus to Okayama station Tokushima, (Naruto swirl wave tour), Takamatsu (gateway to Shikoku and back to Honshu), Nakamura (near Shimanto river in Kochi, Shikoku which is consider one of the most clean, clear river in Japan.)

    JP rail pass is the one you can buy in outside of the country, but there are also different kinds of discount tickets you can guy at Midori no Madoguchi. (JR ticket center) I recommend the ticket in the certain area of your travel (syu-yu-ken, an excursion ticket). It is include local bus fair and some tourist spots (temples and museums, restaurant). They sell certain time of the year, but I buy this kind of the ticket on top of the transportation to the place. A travel agency in Japan can arrange for you also with no extra charges.

    About the food cost, eating the local food would be good, but if I am under budget. I just buy Obento or bread at a convenience store and bring to a hotel.

    For foreigners, I would recommend staying at Minshuku which runs by a family or private owner. It is also reasonable. They just rent their own house and rent a room as a hotel room. It is kind of a Japanese style B&B. Some serve breakfast, some are not. In the country side, some Minshuku owners are farmers and serve food from their farm, so that is fresh and good. I guess it was influenced by European style agri-tourism. You can stay at traditional Japanese house and talk to local people.

    At Kanazawa, we stayed at more than 100 years old samurai era house Minshuku. My partner is sensitive guy and he had a nightmare and could not move. Maybe a cause by a Samurai ghost?!

    • Mowreen permalink
      April 20, 2010 1:39 pm

      Moooo! artistgalicias. Thank you for sharing your expertise! This is a valuable supplement to the information in my posts.

      The samurai-era minshuku in Kanazawa sounds really spooky!

      Best regards and moos,


  2. April 21, 2010 10:54 am

    My pleasure. Some people from outside of the countries, might not notice some detail information traveling in Japan. I would be happy to share you moo guys, so that more people can have a deep and effective experience.

    I will come back and comment on the site, and might be send some Japan info again. Thanks.

    Me, I am the other way, I want to travel more outside of Japan though. But while I am in Japan, I will travel or just stroll within Japan. grin. ; p)

    My partner is a San Francisco residence, Mexican, and he is more into Japanese culture like wannabi a Samurai, and he paints Buddha and zizos, and beautiful Kimono women. ha ha.

    • Mowreen permalink
      April 21, 2010 11:10 am

      Please keep the comment coming!

      Most of the other Humor-Us cows live in Japan, but I live overseas. I’m lucky to be able to travel to Japan every year. (In fact, I was there just 2 weeks ago for the hanami party on Shiraishi. And last September I attended the Moooo! Bar end-of-summer party.) But I’ve never lived there, at least not yet. So your perspective is very important to me.

      I hope we will meet at the Moooo! Bar someday!

  3. April 21, 2010 9:26 pm

    It sounds fun! I go to SF almost every year too. (^_^)
    I am thinking to move to some where around Chugoku or Shikoku area, after a year or so, so I might be able to moo guys (gal) somday.

    Thanks for inviting…


  1. Planning Your First Japan Trip Part 2: Planning an Itinerary « Humor-Us Guide to Japan

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