Japan Trip Cost: Our Actual 12-Day Trip Expenses

Japanese yen paper money

If you’re planning a trip to Japan, cost is a massive thing to consider. We went to Tokyo and Kyoto in November 2023 as a couple and wanted to share our Japan trip costs with alternative options. For what I would call an in-between of affordable and luxury travel, we spent $900 per person a day for a 12-day trip in Japan during the Fall.

Our trip included five prix fixe dinners in addition to low-cost and average restaurants, private and small group tours, lots of souvenirs, many forms of transportation, and mid-range and luxury hotels.

Obviously, this is not typical, and you can still travel to Japan for much cheaper. If you’re not interested in multiple fine-dining restaurants or luxury hotels, we estimate you can easily do a comfortable Japan trip for about $500 per person daily; this cost includes affordable hotels, mid-range restaurants, a sizable souvenir budget, plenty of popular activities, and using the Metro as a main form of transportation.

Price options for your trip

Below, we’ll show you how the trip could have cost three different ways: budget, average, and high-end. We also added an average of each of these cost differences in the first column. We ended up spending around $900 per person per day. If you are traveling solo on a similar itinerary, you should expect a higher per-person cost for items we were able to split, like hotels and taxis.

Average costLow costAverage costHigh cost
Hotel (per night)$770$250 (Hotel Kitano)$500 (Ace Hotel)$1800 (Mitsui the Hotel)
Transportation$50$1 (Metro)$20 (rideshare)$400 (JR Pass)
Food$81$1 (food stalls/konbini)$60 (Itadori Bekkan)$355 (Azabujyuban Hatano Yoshiki)
Activities$190Free (Fushimi Inari Shrine)$54 (Tokyo Disneyland)$117 (dMatcha Farm)
Souvenirs$61$1 (Kewpie bottle)$40 (matcha bowl)$330 (Kamata knife)


Mitsui hotel room
5-star Mitsui hotel room

Hotels were by far the biggest cost category for us. There were some cheaper hotels, but even if you stayed in the cheaper ones, it would still tally up to double your flight cost unless you stayed in hostels the entire time. Accommodations took up 35% of our entire budget for our trip, and we spent about $591 per day average on hotels.

We stayed in a mix of affordable, mid-range, and luxury hotels throughout our stay. All of our rooms were standard-size king accommodations. For example, our stay at The Mitsui Hotel was $1850 per night (see our Mitsui Hotel review!)

Here are the hotels we stayed in during our trip: 

No. nightsCost per nightStarsAmenities / valueWorth it?
Karaksa Premier Tokyo Ginza3$4003Good concierge, open snack bar and happy hour, good locationGood option if you’re on a business trip or want to stay in Ginza without paying too much
Ace Hotel Kyoto2$5654Great concierge, beautiful hotel, good location, hosts eventsYes, if you want a central location in Kyoto and a hip and youthful hotel with good coffee and shopping
Hotel the Mitsui Kyoto2$1,8505Great concierge, luxury hotel, private onsen, and hot springsYes, if you want a luxury experience and have the budget
The Kitano Hotel Tokyo4$2704Right next to metro stationGood option if you want something affordable and near a metro

When researching accommodations, our main needs were hotels with larger rooms instead of hostels or Airbnbs. We focused on booking rooms that were larger (27 m2 / 300 ft2) than typical Japanese hotel rooms (15 m2 / 162 ft2). American hotel rooms are typically 20-27 m2 / 215-300 ft2, and we are more comfortable with this size. Hotels also meant we had access to concierge services that helped us book dining reservations, and some also had spa services.

More affordable hotels

You can absolutely find cheaper accommodations all throughout Japan. However, this depends on the location, size of space, and amenities. Most hotels in Tokyo ranged from about $250-$500 per night for a central location in a major city like Ginza or Chuo City and was about 20 sq meters. 

Here is a list of more affordable hotels in Tokyo:

  • Muji Hotel Ginza: Type B room King bed $250 per room per night
  • Shibuya Stream Excel Hotel Tokyu: Standard double $309 per room per night
  • Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza: Standard double $137 per room per night 

More luxury hotels 

On the flip side, there are plenty of fancier hotels to stay in Tokyo. Many of them are located in areas like Ginza, Chuo City, and Minato City. These five-star luxury hotels often have a very good concierge who can help you book restaurants and activities well before your trip. 

Here are more options for high-end luxury hotels in Tokyo during the Fall: 

  • Aman Tokyo: Tokyo Suite King $2,209 per room per night
  • The Tokyo Edition, Toranomon: King standard room $911 per room per night
  • Mandarin Oriental Tokyo: Deluxe Premier $1,400 per room per night


Zipair full flat seats

We thought flights were going to be much more than they were, but they were still 20% of our overall trip costs. Here is the cost breakdown for one-way flights:

  • LAX to NRT – ZipAir full-flat seats $1,291 per person
  • HND to LAX – American Airlines premium economy $750 per person

The lay-flat seats on ZIPAIR were 72% higher than the premium economy seats on our American Airlines flight. If being on long, crowded flights is a dealbreaker for you, this will help alleviate some of that travel stress. The full-flat seats were definitely comfortable, even though the only thing that comes with this flight is the seat itself.

Amenities like blankets, pillows, water, food, and check-in luggage are additional charges. However, even with the lack of amenities, I would still say the flight was very comfortable–you just need to prep ahead of time to bring your own items or food. 

If full-flat seats are too high for your budget, I would recommend premium economy. For a couple hundred dollars more than basic economy seats, you get roomier seats, can recline further back, receive food earlier, and receive a higher-grade amenities kit. Having more space definitely helped us sleep better than previous long-haul economy flights. 

Finding the cheapest flights to Japan

If you’re on a budget, basic economy is the way! Here are some one-way flights we’ve found that will definitely save you some money from popular metropolitan cities. Note these prices are from the same Fall 2023 dates as our trip so you can compare these options vs. what we paid.

  • LAX to NRT – ZipAir basic economy $312 per person
  • SFO to NRT – ZipAir basic economy $358 per person
  • JFK to HND – ANA basic economy $893 per person


JR Rail Pass ticket

We opted for first-class JR passes, which included upgraded cabins and seats because we planned on traveling to multiple cities like Kyoto, Osaka, and Karuizawa. We mainly purchased this pass to get more comfortable seats and not deal with purchasing individual tickets while taking the Shinkansen.

The price of an individual JR Pass rose from ¥ 29,650 to 50,000 (from $200 to $337 USD) in October 2023. Note that we purchased the pass before the JR pass price hike, so the passes were worth it for our visit. However, after the price hike, it wouldn’t have been price-saving for the amount of cities we visited. 

first class cabin on train from Narita to Tokyo

There are only first-class cars for the Shinkansen, so the first-class JR passes will work like regular JR passes for JR train lines on the Metro; This also means you have unlimited rides using JR Metro trains when you have the JR pass. 

However, the Tokyo Metro also has many trains that aren’t under JR company. We used digital Suica cards that we reloaded frequently for regular Metro rides. Using the Metro was significantly less expensive than using taxis or rideshares. 

Here’s the cost breakdown of what we spent on transportation:

  • First-class JR Passes: $430 per person
  • Suica: $36.63 per person
  • Rideshare: $441.61 for two people 

How to save money on transportation

view on a Japanese bus

You can avoid much of this taxi and rideshare cost by shifting more of your use here to trains (and buses occasionally). It would probably reduce your cost by 75% or more. Being able to use our JR passes for unlimited JR line train usage saved a little bit, but it was probably under 30% of the total train lines. 

I recommend buying JR tickets individually rather than the unlimited-use passes if you go to only a handful of other cities during your trip. There are JR pass calculators online to help you figure out which is the best cost-effective option to go. 

Fine dining

Mitsui private tea service

This is optional for any traveler, but we enjoy food and wanted to experience the fine dining options available in Tokyo and Kyoto during our visit. See all our favorites in our post covering the best restaurants in Tokyo. For this trip, fine dining constitutes a prix fixe, multi-course dinner.

We could book most of these dinners through third-party reservation websites that charged us for the entire dinner at check-out. We were also able to book some dinners with the help of our hotel concierge. 

We found most of the fine dining tasting menus averaged about $200 per person, including drinks and taxes. Our most inexpensive fine dining experience was Tatsumi 巽 パレスホテル東京 for ¥11,000 ($76 USD) per person. The most expensive dinner was at Azabujyuban Hatano Yoshiki 麻布十番 鮨 秦野よしき for ¥49,000 ($335 USD) per person. 

Gomei Akita truffle rice

Compared to fine-dining restaurants in Los Angeles, Orange County, and, in general, large metropolitan cities we’ve traveled to, Japanese fine-dining prices were similar to restaurants in the US. 

Smaller lunches and fast food

Where Japan really shines is the great quality of food at any price point. Even though we love a good prix fixe, fine dining experience, we also appreciate being able to drop into any quick dining restaurant and spend $10 for a delicious meal. 

Curry from Cafe Sama

We liked getting small snacks from shops like Mister Donut for the original mochi donut or Manneken for fresh waffles–these were around the same price of ¥150 ($1) per dessert. Food stalls and stands are also at popular tourist spots like Nishiki Fish Market, Tsukiji Outer Market, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Ninenzaka, which offer inexpensive snacks and meals. 

We ate at various spots around Tokyo and Kyoto, like Rokurinsha for dip ramen, Curry Cafe Sama for coconut curry plates, and Soba Stand for fresh soba. These meals ended up being between $6-$15 per person and were fast dining. 

tamago sando from konbini

If you’re in a hurry, there’s also the well-known konbini (or Japanese convenience stores) that offer egg sandwiches (¥230 / $1.50), iced coffee (¥300 / $2), ramen (¥300 / $2), and fried chicken (¥200 / $1.40). Some of our favorite stops were Family Mart, Seven Eleven, and Lawsons. They even have Lawsons Natural, which features more organic food options.   


matcha farm tour

Besides eating and shopping, there are endless types of activities to do in Japan. During our trip, we planned trips to museums, matcha farms, fish markets, and shrines. Entrance prices to these activities ranged from free to as much as ¥21,000 ($150). 

Here’s a cost breakdown of some of the activities we experienced during our Japan trip: 

  • dMatcha Farm tour: ¥19,500 ($132 USD) per person
  • Toyosu & Tsukiji Outer Market: Free entrance
  • Studio Ghibli Museum: ¥1,000 ($6 USD) per adult
  • Glanta ring-making class: ¥4,180-¥55,000 ($28-$366 USD) per ring
  • Private onsen at a luxury hotel: ¥19,500 ($130 USD) to ¥34,500 ($230 USD) 
  • Tokyo Disneyland & Disney Sea: ¥8,800 ($60 USD) per park per day 
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine: Free entrance

Note, while it is free to enter Toyosu Fish Market and Tsukiji Outer Market, we also paid for a private tour for $300 for two people (that we wouldn’t recommend, unfortunately). 

Free and low-cost activities in Tokyo and Kyoto

Toyosu fish market auction

We covered all our Kyoto favorites in our post on the best things to do in Kyoto. But, there are plenty of free things you can do if you don’t want to spend money. Here are examples of low to no-cost activities:

  1. Stroll Takshita Dori in Harajuku to see cosplay culture & kawaii stores
  2. Tuna auction at Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo
  3. Nishiki Fish Market in Kyoto
  4. Stroll the historic region at Gion in Kyoto

Souvenirs & gifts

chef knives display

We visited Japan when the US Dollar was strong compared to the Yen, so we got many things at a “discount” when comparing it to American prices. For example, souvenir items like matcha were $11 in Japan vs $20 in LA, and clothes from Uniqlo were 40% cheaper than stores in the US. 

Due to this price change, we took advantage of many stores throughout Tokyo and Kyoto, like Kappabashi for culinary tools, Ginza for Uniqlo and Muji, matcha shops, and beauty supplies and gifts from Don Quijote. Many stores also give you a tax refund if you show them your passport with a purchase of over ¥5,500. 

While it’s not necessary to buy any of these items, we wanted to show you the approximate breakdown of what we spent on souvenirs and gifts: 

  • Clothes: $150
  • Culinary tools: $500
  • Matcha & coffee: $850
  • Anime gifts: $85 
  • Beauty: $150
  • Souvenirs & snacks: $100

Miscellaneous costs

With any trip, there are miscellaneous items that you will need to also purchase. Our trip’s miscellaneous charges included withdrawing cash for Yen, foreign transaction fees during the trip, travel essential items like disposable soaps and travel blankets, luggage forwarding charges, and purchasing ESIMs. The total cost of miscellaneous charges was around $900. 

12-day trip cost breakdown per person based on double occupancy:

  • Flight: $2,045 round trip from LAX to Japan per person
  • Accommodation (double occupancy): $300 per day 
  • Transportation: $60 per day
  • Food: $145 per day
  • Activities: $61 per day
  • Souvenirs & gifts: $86 per day
  • Miscellaneous: $35 per day 

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