I don’t live in Japan. So I have little clue about exact living cost there. I only have been there for 2 weeks this summer, for holidays. When I got questions if Japan is expensive, here is my answer: What are you comparing Japan to? I am from Indonesia and I can say Japan is way more expensive than Indonesia. Pocari sweet drink costs about 150 yen in Japan. In Indonesia you can buy it about half price. But Japan is much richer and developed than Indonesia.
Currently I live in Norway, so this is what I am more likely to compare prices in Japan to. But again, eventhough many people might know that things are very expensive in Scandinavian countries, I will say, compare to Japan, it depends. One of my biggest concern when I travel is food. 😀 I was happy to find out that I could get the chance to try some Halal restaurants in Tokyo. More about this coming soon. One example, nasi goreng or fried rice in one restaurant costs 1000yen, as in Norway you might pay double for that, and in Jakarta much less. Last week I had my tom yam soup and rice in a Thai restaurant here in Norway, I paid 159NOK. It’s like more than 2000yen.
Regarding accommodation, I paid my stay at the hostel 3300yen per night, roughly around 200 Norwegian kroner (NOK), as in Norway one night at hostel might cost you between 200-300NOK (or even more). Once I stayed at a hostel in west coast of Norway it cost me about 250NOK (including breakfast), another time in I paid 190NOK. So the price nearly as high as in Norway. But you’ll get more choices in Tokyo. You can find some hostels there that have hotel feelings and atmosphere, top cleanliness. But there are also some cheaper hostels that got some bad reviews. You choose.
What about hotels? I’ll say it varies. Hotels with more stars located in famous district cost very high. Try that one that gives you view of Shibuya crossing, for example, the price is pretty high, but surely it gives you amazing view, not everybody can get. An advantage if you can book in advance, you might get lower price, than to book on the spot. Some hotels have policy to lower the price when you book at least 2 weeks prior to your arrival. In Norway when you can get a room in Scandic or Thon hotels for about 700NOK or less for a night, you get a good price, normally you book it online. In Japan, at least according to my own experience staying at a hotel in Tokyo and Yokohama, that is about the price I paid when I booked one day before, online or on the spot. I am talking about the same kind of hotels in this case, related to the condition of the room and facilities.
Transportation. If you take public transportation, I suggest you to buy Suica or Pasmo card. You might save a little money, but the efficiency most important. You just have to top it up once you are about to run out of credit. You can even use it to pay your purchase at shops, cool, eh? 🙂 The example of price is from Haneda airport to Jimbocho, it takes about 29 minutes, it costs 570yen. In my area where I live here in Norway, it costs 50NOK for one fare that is valid for 1,5 hours. But you can pay less if you use mobile app.
What about taxi? I took taxi only once in Tokyo. That was more because I got up late for meeting with a friend in the evening and from my confusion getting to the destination by train earlier in the afternoon (it was my first day in Tokyo, by the way), I just had this thought as if I was in Jakarta, that taking taxi would take me easier and faster. Anyway, I think I was about 15 minutes, maybe more on taxi and I paid about 2600yen. I would say, this is slightly cheaper that I might pay if I spend the same amount of time taking taxi in Norway. In 2 places where I lived before now, I had to take taxi everytime I had something heavy to carry. Less than 10minutes-taxi ride when I was in Northern Norway, for example, already cost me more than 150NOK. With the same price, in Jakarta you might ride a taxi for about an hour or more to pay the same amount of money.
What about shopping? If you fancy shopping tour in Japan, I guess it’s necessary to know which shop or shopping centre that suits your budget. Uniqlo shop might be recommended by some. It’s like H&M here in Scandinavia. It’s enough to visit 1 or two stores, since they have the same kind of things in every store. 😀 For some reasonable price fashion, I can suggest Aeon mall or Sunshine City in Ikebukuro. There are 2 malls in Sunshine city, I wasn’t even finished with one but happy already. 😀 When I was there I saw this one shop having a bargain sale. It was called Earth, Music&Ecology. I never heard of it before, later I heard that it was pretty famous. Anyway, I got a good bargain on a skirt. It cost me only about 1000yen. I was happy. 😀 Another time, I bought a Snoopy t-shirt in Tokyo character street cost me 1000yen as well. I thought, even in Indonesia it might cost the same or even more to have this real Snoopy merchandise, no?
If you are thinking to buy some gifts for family or friends back home, I will say not everything is expensive. It depends what kind of thing. I bought some chocolates for friends, and for the prices (generally pretty high for Indonesians), they can be cutely and nicely packed, so your family and friends will be pleased. 🙂 Travelling on a budget? You can visit 100yen stores, for example Daiso, they have a lot of things to choose as well.
I didn’t visit many touristic places. I couldn’t visit Ghibli museum since it was fully booked. I managed to book one day tour to Fujiko F. Fujio museum and Ramen museum (not including the price of a bowl of ramen you’d like to taste). It cost me about 6000yen. It was worth it. Not to forget that I was the only participant on the tour. 😀
After spending the day with some shopping tour, I went to supermarket a few times to buy some sushi and Pocari sweet drink. This one was pretty cheap. Even in Jakarta you might pay more for that amount of sushi in a Japanese restaurant.
So, wherever you are from, just find out if Japan is expensive or not, by visiting the country yourself! 😀 Oh well, with some price searching in advance. 😛 If you start complaining, oh no, in my country it costs this and that, why is it expensive in Japan? You are asking me why? Do you want to keep complaining for the rest of your life? Come on, you only live once, enjoy it, chill out, man! 😀
P.S: Maybe I should ask Pocari Sweat to sponsor me next time I go to Japan again, since it was what I drank most of the time when I was in Japan last time. Seriously. 😀