Japan Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

Tokyo, Japan backpacking

This post details the estimated cost of travel in Japan. We have two daily travel budgets – one for shoestring travellers and one for those on a slightly more comfortable backpacking budget. Further down there are details on the local currency and typical prices for travellers in Japan.

backpacking budget japan
Map of Japan from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Japan Cost of Travel in 2023

Shoestring Backpacker Budget

  • US$60/day | 8,000 Japanese Yen

Japan is one of the most expensive countries to visit in Asia and consistently ranks near the top of the global cost of travel rankings. A typical Japan backpacking budget is around 8,000 Yen per day as of 2023 and that should cover accommodation, transport and food costs for a shoestring traveller, whilst leaving a bit left over for activities and evening entertainment. You’ll need to be a bit savvy to stick to that though.

Let’s start with some good news. Eating and drinking out is relatively affordable and overall prices are a bit cheaper than what you might find in Europe or North America for example. Entrance to the main attractions also tends to be really good value with minimal entry fees for some of the best temples and sights.

Budget accommodation is found in most of the main travel destinations and all the bigger cities with capsule style dorms all the rage here. They offer a bit more privacy than you’ll find in your average hostel too. However the relatively high cost of accommodation is one of the reasons why Japan is an expensive place to visit.

The other more significant one is the cost of transport and the two questions you really need to ask yourself when setting your budget for Japan is how much travelling am I going to do?, and how I am going to travel?

If you spend at least a few days in each destination and are taking the slower trains or buses to get around, you should be able to get by on $60/day and it should certainly more than cover your costs on days when you are not travelling between cities. However, if you opt for the popular rail passes which allow access to some of the fastest trains in the world, then you will find it almost impossible to stick to this budget as they aren’t particularly cheap!

More Comfortable Japan Backpacking Budget

  • US$90/day | 12,000 Japanese Yen

For anyone backpacking around Japan using a rail pass, you may want to consider upping your travel budget to something more in the region of 12,000 Yen per day. It is by far the most hassle-free way to get around the country and in its own way, whizzing around on Japan’s brilliant high-speed rail network is one of its biggest appeals.

The passes become better value if you choose longer periods (2 or 3 weeks) but it is possible to do a one week pass (which will work out to over $30/day) and really try to cram a lot of travelling in. If you are in Japan for only one or two weeks and opt for the rail pass, there is simply no way you are going to survive on the previous $60/day budget and even $90/day may be tight given you’ll want to make the most of your limited time in the country.

If you have three or four weeks in Japan, then you can perhaps afford to travel more slowly and have a few more relaxed days. That should save you money too and in that case $80-90 might be a realistic “more comfortable” backpacking budget.

Japan rail pass
Rail passes in Japan are not cheap but are the most convenient and fastest way to get around the country.

Japan Travel Costs

Approximate Price (in US Dollars)
Flight from Tokyo to Sapporo (1 hour 45 minutes)From $40 + Baggage Fees
Japan Rail PassFrom $235 for 7 Days, $370 for 14 Days
Meal in an affordable local restaurant$6-9
Local beer in bar/restaurant$3-4
Dorm bed in a hostelFrom $20/night
Budget private roomFrom $40/night
Visit to Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto$3
Travel insurance for backpacking JapanGet a quote from Heymondo in under a minute!

As the prices above show, Japan is quite good value when compared to the cost of travel in the USA for example, at least when it comes to food, drinks and accommodation. However prices are significantly higher than in most Asian countries and there’s a notable hike when they are compared to the cost of travel in China.

Money – Japanese Yen

£1 = 165 Yen

€1 = 144 Yen

US$1 = 133 Yen

All exchange rates are correct as of March 2023. The Japanese Yen has lost value against most major currencies over the past few years making it a slightly cheaper place to visit. As you might expect, there are plenty of options for digital/contactless payments in Japan. US Dollars are used in this article only for ease of comparison and foreign currencies are not widely accepted in the country.

This Japan backpacking budget was last updated in March 2023.

Japan Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

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