Japan On the Cheap: Essential Money-Saving Pointers
Photo courtesy of the Japan National Tourism Organization
Japan is one of the most picturesque countries on Earth. Contemplate this country for even an instant and the mind is filled with images of cherry blossoms or a samurai entering a battlefield. Such vivid associations make Japan a commonly featured destination on the bucket list of travelers worldwide.
Unfortunately, for the average budgeting backpacker, it is pretty darn expensive. The good news is, with a few thoughtful maneuvers, Japan can be explored good and proper, but still on the cheap.
Here are a few money-saving tips to keep in mind while gallivanting around this beautiful country:
If you have never couchsurfed before, then Japan is most definitely THE place to get started. With dorm rooms ranging from $15-$30, couchsurfing will not only save you a bunch of cash, but it can also introduce you to some incredible authentic experiences. That being said, sometimes staying in paid beds is unavoidable. Therefore I can recommend K’s House. This is a chain of hostels that offer a loyalty card, allowing you to make some cuts on your spending.
You don’t have to spend a bomb to fulfill your dreams of seeing some of those ancient temples. In fact, entry into a decent amount of museums and temples is free. Generally, parks, museums and temples can be found in the same area. The parks are usually free and also bloody beautiful, rivaling Japanese gardens.
However, if you’re intent upon seeing a decent handful of attractions in the Tokyo region, it’s worth considering investing in a Grutt Pass. It provides free admission and discounts for over 50 museums, art galleries and other cool things.
Photo courtesy of Will Hatton
By far the cheapest place to buy a casual drink is the supermarket and as far as I know, it’s legal to drink on the streets. However if you’re looking to get drunk, then definitely check out an all-you-can-drink spot. These little gems are usually found in the form of Karaoke bars and restaurants and are well worth a visit.
Also to be found in the supermarket is your food supply. In Japan, there are laws in place that do not allow fresh food to be kept in the supermarket for more than a day. Hence, after 8 p.m., fresh produce will be put at discount prices, and picked up by bargain hunters such as ourselves. However I understand that you didn’t come to Japan to eat at the supermarket. Well good news! You can also enjoy a variety of sushi dishes for $1 a plate! These ¥100 per plate conveyor belt sushi joints can be found throughout the country.
Bullet trains (as the name suggests) are incredibly fast, however, if you have some time on your hands, then catching an overnight bus is definitely the way to go. Not only is it much cheaper than the trains, you can also save on a night’s accommodation. While the cross-country railpass remains quite popular in Japan, it also remains bloody expensive.
By far the best company for transport is Willer Express. Through them you can get a three-trip pass at ¥10,000, which can be used over a two-month span (unlike the railpass which must be used in seven days).
Of course the most economically feasible route is sticking out your thumb and hitching a ride! This may not be for everyone, but it certainly guarantees you some fun adventures with the locals.
Hopefully with these tips fresh in your mind, you can make a truly epic adventure of your time in Japan, without clearing every last penny from your savings.
More by Will Hatton
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