Japan Costs & Prices - the cost of living in Japan
Getting To Japan
Airfares to Japan vary widely and flights from Europe and the USA can range from around US$600 with Aeroflot to over US$1000 with Air France, JAL, British Airways (BA), Virgin, Finnair, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, Austrian, Emirates, Alitalia, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Thai Air, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Air and KLM.
Discounts on domestic air tickets are available from JAL, ANA and other domestic and international carriers.
Getting around Japan
Buy a specific Japan Rail Pass before you come. It entitles you to reductions on certain hotels.
Night buses run between the major cities, usually from the main railway station, and are an economical possibility if you do not have a Japan Rail Pass.
For car hire, count on paying around 7,000 yen per day from the major companies for a compact car such as a Honda Fit, Toyota Vits, Nissan March or Mazda Demio, which will come complete with a Satnav system. Cars with less than 1,000cc engine capacity (with yellow number plates) are cheaper but not ideal for long distances.
Value for money
Japan is a first-world economy. However, London has overtaken Tokyo as the more expensive city for certain goods and services. Deflation is now a fact of life in Japan; consumer prices are falling and continue to fall. Some things are cheaper than in many other countries, for example cigarettes and alcohol.
Japan does offer a high degree of service and efficiency for the money you pay.
For those on a tight budget, lunch set prices are cheaper than dinner; and a morning set breakfast in a chain restaurant or cafe can be good value.
Tipping in not a custom in Japan.
Japan Some Prices (2016)
Food & Drink
Beer in a bar: 500+ yen.
Beer (Kirin lager 633ml): 340 yen.
Cocktail in a bar: 600+ yen.
Coffee & cafe: 600 yen.
Coke (Coca Cola 350ml/can): 120 yen.
Curry rice: 656 yen.
Hamburger/fries: 350 yen.
Instant Noodles: 108 yen.
Juice (sugar free 1L): 158 yen.
Kentucky Fried Chicken: 200 yen, large fries: 240 yen.
Milk (1000ml): 207 yen.
Ramen: 550 yen.
Snickers bar: 102 yen.
Steak in a top class restaurant: 5,000+ yen.
Sushi: (one serving) 1226 yen.
Mineral Water (2L): 128 yen.
Whisky (Red Label) (750ml) 1500 yen.
Gilbeys Vodka (375ml) 620 yen.
Starbucks cappuccino (short) 280 yen.
VAT (consumption tax is 8% from April 2014 and set to rise later to 10%)
Other everyday items & services
Airport departure tax (Passenger Service Facility Charge, or PSFC): 2090 yen (Narita Airport Terminals 1 & 2 - included in ticket price, not levied on passengers directly).
Battery (1 set of 2 Alkaline AA battery): 98 yen.
20 cigarettes: 410 yen.
Cinema ticket (on the door) 1,800 yen.
English language paper: 120-180 yen.
Fuji film (24 exposures; 400 ASA x 3) 598 yen.
Film development (24 prints) 525 yen.
Gasoline 1 liter: 107 yen.
Hair Cut (men's): 1,600 yen.
Hilton Hotel, Tokyo (double) 46,000 yen.
Laundry (a piece): 221 yen.
Local phone call (10 yen for 3 minutes).
Public Baths: 440 yen for adults, 200 yen for children, 60 yen for babies.
Sony MDs (3 pack): 528 yen.
Taxi flag fall (Kyoto): 570 yen.
Underground (subway) ticket: 220+ yen.
Tips for saving money in Japan
If you are on a tight budget consider some of the following tips:
*Disclaimer. Remember that prices vary and may change. Our listing of particular brands is in no way intended as an endorsement.