We spent a month in Japan in September 2016. It was a frenetic month, full of trips, outings, weather problems, movement, and amazement. We really do love Japan, it’s one perfect place to have a vacation.
In Tokyo, we:
- wandered around Shinjuku, it’s amazing day and night (and very different from each other, so do both!)
- went to Pokémon Center in Ikebukuro – that’s where we saw most of the cosplayers we saw while in Japan
- saw a summer festival passing through our street from the veranda (it was small, but it was a nice taste of Japan)
- went to Disney Sea
- visited very quickly Ueno Zoo and didn’t like it.
- had the Totoro cream puff from Shiro-Hige
- walked around Shibuya, saw the world’s busiest crossing and crossed it, of course
- boarded the kids’ first bullet train
- spent an afternoon in Akihabara in midst of all the stores and buildings and amazing things
- spent an afternoon at the beautiful Odaiba and visited Odaiba Trick Art Museum
- had the most amazing time at Ghibli Museum
- spent an afternoon in Asakusa, visiting its beautiful temples and surrounding streets
- saw Tokyo from above at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
In Osaka, we:
- visited the Pokémon Center in Umeda and had a lovely time in the surrounding areas
- saw a typhoon
- spent a day in Nara, fed shika senbei (cookies made for deer) to deer and visited many temples (even saw the huge Buddha statue)
- had a bit of a disaster day in Umeda, in between the Ferris wheel and the cute Gudetama Café
- had amazing food at Kuromon Market
- went to Universal Studios Japan’s Halloween
In Mie, we:
- visited Aeon Mall and Hunter Mall
- spent an afternoon at Flower Park
- had Japanese barbecue
- had kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi)
- visited Iga Ueno’s castle, Danjiri-kan Museum, and Ninja Museum
Here’s our Japan budget, which we decided on leaving in the local currency because exchange rates change a lot:
We paid for 3 weeks of accommodation since we were at my dad’s for 9 days and didn’t pay for anything (instead, we were spoiled). In Osaka, we paid JP¥ 31.000 for 6 nights and in Tokyo, we paid JP¥ 126.000 for 16 nights. It was a little bit cheaper than NZ and we were able to make it under our budget (a lot under, if we count in the 9 nights we spent at my dad’s) of NZ$ 100/night. The apartments were a lot smaller in Japan, too, so I guess it’s the price.
(If you’re new to Airbnb, click here to receive a discount on your first booking – and we receive one too, without any additional cost to you! – we used Airbnb for both accommodations)
We hadn’t set out a limit budget for transport because we wanted to travel as much as possible with the kids and not be limited by money. The truth is that we cut our travels to around 70% of what we’d planned due to fatigue and not by money, but it ended up saving us a good amount of it anyway. I’m glad we didn’t choose to move houses every 3 days as we had originally wanted to.
- JP¥ 12 400 for the Airport Limousine from Narita Airport to Shinjuku
- JP¥ 3 800 for the Keisei bus from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport
- JP¥ 43 687 for the car rental for 5 days
- JP¥ 47 640 for the bullet trains (price for both trips from Tokyo to Nagoya and from Osaka to Tokyo)
- approximately JPY 20 000 for the regular trains and subway
And all of this totals around JP¥ 127 527 which is still cheaper than 2 weeks of JR pass for our family.
We knew we’d spend a lot in food. We’d even decided to not cook anything other than rice (in rice machines). But we also knew that food wasn’t very expensive – not the food we like, anyway. I mean, we love Japanese food and we’re happy with supermarket food (in Japan). Most of our food was paid in cash so we don’t really know exactly how much we paid, but I can tell you how much it cost to eat per person approximately. One ramen bowl cost us between JP¥ 700 to JP¥ 1300, depending on what kind of ramen we ordered. The kids and I usually kept to the cheaper ones because we prefer simple, but Angelo liked to try out different ramen, so his ramen varied a lot in price. Oh, and the kids shared one bowl in 2 people because it is a lot. It also depends on where you’ll eat.
One meal in Ootoya (one of our favorite restaurants) cost in between JP¥ 800 ~1000 and the kids’ meal was around JP¥ 500.
If we had something simpler, like takoyaki (little round doughs that come with tiny pieces of octopus inside), it cost around JP¥ 500 / person.
If we made the rice at home and bought the rest of the meal at the supermarket, we’d pay at most JP¥ 3 000 / meal.
But we always bought something else throughout the day, like ice cream, donuts, crepe, etc. and they cost anywhere from JP¥ 100 / person to JP¥ 2000 / person.
And we bought breakfast from convenience stores or supermarkets, but they were cheaper because it was bread, butter, milk, juice, tea, coffee, cookie, yogurt, and fruit. We don’t know how much it cost, but I guess it was around JP¥ 5000 / week.
By the way, the fruit in Japan is a crazy thing, super sweet and juicy – and pricey. Go on and try them.
All the rest
We went to Disney Sea, Universal Studios, Hep 5 Ferris Wheel, Ueno Zoo, all the temples, Ghibli Museum, Trick Art Museum, Iga-Ueno Castle, Danjiri-kan and Ninja Village. We bought cookies to feed the deer in Nara, tons of souvenir, little things for ourselves, a few meals for my dad. We played a lot in game centers, bought a lot of vending machine drinks and ice creams, and a lot more.
It’s super hard to measure now how much we spent because we didn’t take any notes but we didn’t blow or budget!
Adding all the money (cash and the credit cards) we used, it cost us around JP¥ 20 000/day for all our family. It was above our budget, but bear in mind we didn’t cook one day, we went out almost every day, had loads of treats and we bought a lot of things for our family and friends in Brazil. We don’t really regret it. If we’d skipped the souvenirs and gifts, we’d have lowered that amount considerably. Plus, my dad gave the kids money – and they were able to pay for all of our entrances and a LOT of the food we ate while there.
What do you think? Is Japan a place you’d consider visiting?