My 9-Day Japan Trip (2015) - Travel Expense Breakdown + Tips + Itinerary

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Last Update: February 6, 2018

It was a trip of a lifetime but I was hesitant to take because I know Japan is NOT a cheap destination. I know there are ways to stretch my budget but I know it will still be expensive compared to other Asian countries I’ve visited.  But the thought of celebrating my Birthday in my favorite country and seeing the Sakuras for the first time is so tempting, I could not resist. Best Baby Carriers 2017
This is the first of many Japan related blog posts :)
"So how much does it cost to travel in Japan?” I’ve been asked this question many times since I arrived last Saturday. Guess what? It’s not as expensive as I expected! May be it did not cost too much because of weaker yen or better performing Philippine peso (this is not true anymore as the Japanese Yen has recovered in 2016). But I think I did not go beyond my spending limits because I managed to control my shopaholic and impulsive self. :) For the first time, I did not use my credit card abroad! Still can't believe it really. So guys let me share to you my actual Japan budget travel expenses. 

PS: Get ready, this is quite a long read!

Actual Travel Expense - Japan 2015
excel file can be viewed here
1 Japanese Yen equals 0.37 Philippine Peso
JPY to PHP conversion were all rounded off and based on today’s date April 11, 2015 
1. Japan Tourist Visa
Getting a Japanese visa is pretty easy and cheap just choose among the accredited travel agencies of Japanese Embassy. I chose Universal Holidays Inc. and paid PHP 1,200. I got my visa after 24 hours! Check out my detailed post here :)

At Hitachi Seaside Park
2. Airfare
Japan roundtrip tickets via Cebu Pacific can go for as low as PHP 3,800 during their Piso fare promos. However, our trip was from March 27 to April 4, 2015 which means Cherry Blossom season and tourism is at its peak. Almost no chance to get a piso fare. We purchased ours with Jetstar which costs PHP 13, 183.85 round trip without baggage allowance. Expensive, yes! But worth it because we were just in time for the Sakuras :)

3. JR Pass
Japan’s biggest railway company is Japan Railway Company (JR) whose trains encompass the whole of Japan.  They are the company behind JR pass which is your ticket to see the entire country. This pass can only be purchased outside Japan and need to be exchanged in one of the JR offices upon your your arrival. Make sure to advise when you plan to activate your pass, otherwise it be be activated right away. In our case, we activated it on our third day because our entire stay was 9 days. 

Local JR Train
JR train to USJ
The ordinary 7 day pass is currently priced at JPY 29,110 or PHP 11,052 at the time we purchase it at Universal Holidays Inc. You see the price will depend on today's foreign exchange rate. Please be advised not all mode of transportation are covered by JR Pass. Please see this link for more details.

4. Transportation
Sure that big map with god-knows-how-many different colored lines looks intimidating, but the railway and bus systems in Japan are remarkably easy to master. Plus, because it is so well connected there are very few places in the city that are not located close to a train station. Tokyo’s JR Yamanote line is a good example. 

5. Accommodation
Japan offers a wide variety of options when it comes to accommodation. Guesthouses and hostels are your best bet. However, during peak season rooms run out very quickly so it's best to book months ahead. I primarily use Agoda for out of country trips. 
Tip! Book a place near the city centre particularly near a train station. This will give you better access to dining options and tourist attractions. 

Me, Jett and Maki
Accommodation in the provinces are spacious, like this traditional room of Yokichi in Shirakawa-go priced at JPY 10,000 per person which includes traditional dinner and breakfast. The thing is you need to book ahead of time because there are only about 22 farmhouses in Shirakawa-go which are open for tourists. Reservations for farmhouse stays are possible through the website Japanese Guest Houses.

Where we stayed in Osaka

Tenma Itoya Guest House
4-16-13 Temma, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0043, Osaka Prefecture
Check Rates and Availability

Where we stayed in Kyoto

LA Kyoto - Guesthouse in Kyoto
58-1 Higashikujo Kamigoryocho, Minami-ku, Kyoto 601-8015, Kyoto Prefecture
Check Rates and Availability

Where we stayed in Tokyo

Tokyo Plaza Hotel
2-15-1 Hyakunincho, Shinjuku 169-0073, Tokyo Prefecture
Check Rates and Availability

6. Tour
Temples and Shrines
Most historical attractions have entrance fees. If you are not a history buff, visiting 2-3 sites would be enough. Good thing, Japan offers visitors from abroad a lot of worthwhile places to see and things to do for free. Check out this file from JNTO website which features free attractions in Japan.

Hogwarts Express
dream come true! #certified #potterhead
Universal Studios Japan 
I don't really fancy amusement parks but since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter recently opened in USJ, I decided to spend a day here. Tickets are from JPY 7,315 (JPY 7,900 with tax) per adult and JPY 5,000 per child ages 4-11 (JPY 5,400 with tax). The thing is, a timed entry ticket may be necessary during peak season. We went to this ticketing area at around 10:00 AM and the entry time we got is 5:00 PM. SRSLY. All entry schedules are fully booked and only 5:00 PM and 5:30 PM are left.

7. Shopping

Japan is an expensive destination but there are lots of shopping options, some stores offer tax free shopping for foreigners. Don't get overwhelmed with my total shopping cost because most of it are pasalubong. And I bought so many I needed to upgrade my baggage! Anyhow, here are my top three stores when it comes to pasalubong hunt in Japan:

Donki: The one we went to in Shibuya have pharmacy, food, clothes, gadgets, adult items, costumes, chocolates and more (Same as the one we found in Osaka but much bigger). For Kitkat, I was able to buy Strawberry Cheesecake, Matcha green tea, Dark Chocolate flavour. They offer tax free shopping for Foreigners just present your passport upon payment. 

Daiso: The biggest we found is in Harajuku’s Takeshita Dori. Like most if not all Daiso locations, it was clean, brightly-lit, and fairly-well organized, and there were so many cute, colorful items to look at. They offer food, makeup/skin care products, kitchen stuff, socks, school supplies, cleaning supplies, laundry bags, and the list goes on! Most of the items are priced at 100 JPY. 

Seria: This is probably my favourite 100 Yen Shop in Japan! It’s not the same as other 100 Yen Shop, it’s more classy. They have the normal essentials of a 100 Yen Shops like skincare/make up products, umbrellas, bags, home cleaning supplies, accessories, ceramics and many more. What I love about Seria is that they have wide selections of scrapbooking materials :)

Shopping at Asakusa
Keychains at Asakusa
For souvenirs like T-shirts and ref magnet, those are actually pretty expensive in my opinion. The cheapest I love Japan Shirt I found is around JPY 1,000. Ref magnets cost JPY 320 each. 

8. Food

The average food budget per meal is JPY 500 - 1,000. We decided to splurge on authentic Japanese meal once a day only. My usual breakfast is Onigiri which costs around JPY 100 per piece. Surprisingly, it was more than enough. If you are on a tight budget, Bento boxes from 7 Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson are also pretty good. 
The Best Katsu in Kyoto
The best Katsu!
My biggest regret in Japan is not being able to try sushi! I know it’s unbelievable but my two friends don’t really fancy sushi. I should have gone on a sushi hunt before we left. Darn it. But that’s okay I guess. It will give me more reasons to go back! ^_^

There you have it guys! I hope this post will help you a lot when you plan your trip to Japan!  Let me know if you have questions and I will try to answer as soon as I can. Oyasumi! ^_^


Our Route: Osaka - Kyoto - Shirakawa-go - Takayama - Tokyo
Travel Dates: March 27 - April 4, 2015
Useful Travel Resources:
Japan Guide - The ultimate guide for Japan Travel
Pinoyexchange and Female Network - my primary sources of travel information
Hyperdia Definitely useful to figure out your fare. Timetable is updated as well. Amazing website!


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  1. Hello Milet! I'm so happy that you included Shirakawa-go and Takayama on your itinerary. Not a lot of travelers visit those places! I can't wait to see you post soon!

  2. Hi Milet! 80K for the whole trip is not bad at all, considering all the places you've visited! Looking forward to reading your travel entries! :)

  3. Shirakawa-go is one of the highlights of our trip. I actually had no idea this village existed if not for Japan Guide website. And when I saw your pictures of the Winter Light-up, I got excited and determined to include this in our itinerary. This part was the most challenging to plan but it was easier than I expected when we got there. :)

  4. Thanks Jacq! I'll be posting more entries soon :)

  5. Wow! Very detailed! Bookmarked for future reference. :)

  6. Hi Anne! Glad you find it very detailed. Hope this helps you plan your Japan trip in the future :)

  7. I love the graphic detailed of the budget! Galing! Cute ng mga keychains! So kawaii!


  8. sis! super helpful! we're planning our japan uss too for harry potter haha! :)

  9. Wow that's great! Though there are so many tourists in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I bet you will still have a wonderful time! :)

  10. Thank you for this! I want to go to Japan also (but not in the very near future) and this very detailed and informative budget guide will surely help me plan for it. :)

  11. Glad this will help Edelweiza! :) It's actually best to go now or just reserve Japanese yen because the exchange rate favors PHP compared to previous years. Last year, 7-day JR pass costs around 13-14K and now it only costs 11K. :)

  12. hope to see your blog post of shirakawa-go soon :)

  13. nakakainggit! we were suppose to travel to japan too wit my inlaws but unfortunately, we were unable to make it in time, we lacked time with the preparation of docs.
    I love your harry potter adventure! im a fan too but im more excited to see hp than the cherry blossoms. hehehe

  14. Aww sayang naman! Why not try this coming autumn? I bet it would be magical with all the maple leaves :) And they say autumn season is less crowded compared to spring :)

  15. I'm loving you blog. Beautiful pictures and you look super cute in that outfit.

    Gah. Japan. I haven't seen it. :(

  16. You definitely should visit Japan soon! It's a different world out there! You'll find lots of places to do #OOTD pose, which I think you will love! ^_^

  17. Milet! We're planning to go there next spring. Good thing you have this blog as my guide from expenses to practically everything!

  18. Waah! Mommy you found my blog! :) Download nyo po yung excel kasi nandun lahat ng expenses namin. Also, use Hyperdia to calculate transpo costs. PM nyo lang po ako if you have questions. Miss you mommy! ^_^