Traveling Japan can be expensive.
Traveling during peak season can be even more expensive.
But Peak Season is when I wanted to be there.
So I had to figure out a way to not drain my wallet during my stay.
I was in Japan for 44 days and averaged about $52 a day.
During my stay I was there for the entire Cherry Blossom season and went right into Golden Week.
I was in Japan at a time when festivals were happening everywhere.
I saw the Cherry Blossom season(all over Japan),
Festival of the Steel Phallus(Kawasaki),
Onomichi Minato Festival(Onomichi),
Hakata Dontaku Festival(Fukuoka),
and left during Golden Week(Fukuoka).
My Tips for how to save money in Japan during peak seasons are:
Extensively Plan Everything Out.
If you’re gonna be in Japan for a long time it’s good to have most of it planned in advance.
Doing that will also help with accommodation and train rides.
I usually like to travel as each day comes.
But planning things out in detail really seemed to help in Japan.
Book Accommodation in Advance.
If you’re arriving in a city a few days before a festival it’s wise to book accommodation a couple of weeks in advance.
It’s not something that I do very often but it did help in Japan.
There were a few times when the hostel I wanted was fully booked 4-5 days out from when I was arriving.
Therefore forcing me to book accommodation that was more expensive and further from where I wanted to stay.
Buy JP Rail Pass If You’re Covering A Lot Of Ground.
If you’re gonna use the train a lot this pass will pay for itself almost immediately.
But if you stay in one place and only plan to visit a nearby city, a single train ticket would make more sense.
If you buy the JP Rail Pass know that it should be used continuously.
If you buy a 7 day pass and don’t use the train on one of those 7 days you lose that day.
A bus is an even cheaper option if you have time to waste.
But only use it if you’re not in a hurry.
What would take 2 hours on a train can take 10 hours on a bus.
Avoid Themed Restaurants in Tokyo.
They might sound like fun, but they’re expensive and not worth it.
The food portions are also small.
Even for Japan.
I have a whole breakdown of Themed Restaurants HERE.
If you’re trying to save money avoid these.
Shop at Grocery Stores in the Evening.
This tip saved me a lot of money.
After 7 pm grocery stores discount the bakery and pre-made meals anywhere from 30-70% off.
All the discounted items are made fresh daily, and Japanese hate to be wasteful.
So instead of throwing away perfectly good food, they simply mark it down.
I would go to a grocery store and load up on all pre-made sushi and noodle meals.
Then I’d raid the bakery section.
Most hostels in Japan have a kitchen with a fridge.
So I’d keep my bags in the fridge and have meals for the next couple of days.
Don’t Buy Fruit.
Bananas and apples are decently priced, but that’s it!
All the other fruit is insanely expensive.
Japan has some fruit that is “Perfect” therefore it’s price range is $50 or higher.
But even the average package of 8 strawberries can cost around $6.
Avoid Accommodation in certain Tokyo Wards.
When I say certain Tokyo Wards I basically mean Shinjuku and Shibuya.
These 2 wards is where most of the action is happening.
Therefore hostels and hotels are much more expensive.
But a search on AirBnb might be able to get you good priced accommodation in those areas.
I stayed in the Taito ward.
I still had a lot of sites near me that were walking distance.
But every ward in Tokyo is well-connected with the metro.
You’re never too far away from other districts if you use the metro.
Look For Cheaper Options.
This last one sounds obvious.
But sometimes there are things you didn’t even know had cheaper options.
Take the observation decks for example.
In Tokyo, most tourists want to go up the expensive SkyTree Tower for good views of the city.
But if you go down the road to the Seaside Top Observatory(World Trade Center Building) you can save money at their observation deck.
SkyTree costs between $10-$20, while Seaside Top costs about $6.
If you go at night you can even see the SkyTree lit up, which you wouldn’t be able to see if you were on the top of it.
All throughout Tokyo there are FREE observation decks.
Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building are 2 examples.
Search what you’d like to see and then try to find cheaper options.
Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive.
I’ve met a lot of people who want to go to Japan, but avoid it because of the cost.
The only things I found to be expensive were transportation and accommodation.
If you use these tips Japan can be quite affordable.
It just takes a bit more planning.
Do you have any tips on how to save money in Japan?
Let me know in the comments below.
My name is Jeremiah and I'm a photographer from Arizona.
I'm always in search of picturesque landscapes and adrenaline pumping adventure.
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