This is Part 5 of our 5 part series on planning the ultimate trip to Japan during cherry blossom season. We will cover every aspect – itinerary, accommodation, packing, budgeting – of planning an unforgettable trip to Japan during cherry blossom season
Read Part 1 – Visiting Japan during Cherry Blossom Season: An Itinerary (opens in new tab)
Read Part 2 – A Guide to Tokyo (opens in new tab)
Read Part 3 – Choosing Accommodation for your trip to Japan (opens in new tab)
Read Part 4 – Packing for a trip in Japan during Cherry Blossom Season (opens in new tab)
At the outset, let me preface this by saying Japan is an expensive country. In fact we would say it is one of the most expensive countries we’ve been too. Just to give you an example of costs – A coffee or soft serve ice-cream can set you back by £4 while a bowl of ramen at a hole-in-the-wall eatery will cost £10. If you thrive on fresh produce (like us!), then you’re in for a shock – fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive and not readily available. When you do find them, expect to pay £5 for 5 apples, £1 for a banana, and £20 (yes you heard that right!) for a large watermelon. But the good part is that Japanese food is readily available, affordable, and scrumptious. Most supermarkets and convenience stores stock a range of local delicacies – sushi, bento boxes, edamame salads, and sashimi.
It is hard to explore Japan on a shoestring budget, so we suggest setting aside at least £2000 per person for a 14 day trip (excluding flights from your country of residence to Japan). Of course this cost can increase drastically if you choose to visit during cherry blossom season, stay in luxury hotels, dine at expensive restaurants, ski in the Japanese Alps, or visit an amusement park such as Disneyland Paris.
Find a breakdown of approximate expenditures on food, trains, and attractions below:
The cost of flights will vary according to your country of residence. However you will not need to take internal flights within Japan once you are there. That’s because train is the preferred mode of transportation within Japan – bullet trains and express trains connect the whole country seamlessly.
You can easily purchase your Japan Rail Pass online and we strongly recommend doing that. We purchased a 2 week pass – the company sent us exchange orders with a complete guide to Japan Rail well before our trip. Once in Japan, you can take these exchange orders to a Japan Rail (JR) office and get your JR passes. A 14 day economy pass costs approximately £280.
Our Japan Rail Passes allowed us to travel on most of the inter-city and intra-city (within Tokyo) for free. Do keep in mind that JR passes are not valid on some of the private railways so make sure you enquire in advance. When in cities like Kyoto or Osaka, you can buy individual tickets or day passes for the subway lines if you ever need to visit a subway station that isn’t serviced by Japan Rail. For instance – we only paid £8 for the private train that goes to Mt. Fuji and £20 for a couple of subway tickets in Osaka and Tokyo over the period of 14 days.
Commuting within Japan
Taxis are prohibitively expensive in Japan. Expect to spend £8-10 for the shortest of distances. We suggest using public transport as it is clean, efficient, and extremely punctual. The Japan Rail Pass listed above will cover most of your train journeys between cities and even within cities, but expect an additional expenditure of £6 per person per day if you use the subway extensively in cities such as Osaka, Tokyo, and Kyoto.
Accommodation in Cherry Blossom Season
As with everything else, accommodation in Japan is expensive. Expect to spend anywhere between £80-£150 for a mid-range hotel or B&B or upwards of £150 for a luxurious proprty in Japan during Cherry Blossom Season. Hotel rates are significantly higher at this time of the year, which is one obvious disadvantage of travelling during Cherry Blossom Season.
Do beware that Japan is infamous for the size of hotel rooms – cheaper rooms tend to be extremely cramped (read our article on Accommodation in Japan for a couple of such experiences)! If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!! Always read reviews thoroughly and check the square footage of a room before booking a hotel, especially in Japan. We usually compare hotel rates online to get the best deals.
Supermarket supplies and restaurant meals will set you back by at least £50/per person per day if you eat at budget-friendly local eateries and off supermarket shelves. This cost will increase significantly if you dine in fancier restaurants. Having said that, we do encourage you to indulge a few times during your trip to Japan. This is because Japan boasts of some incredible Michelin star eateries and fine-dining restaurants that offer delectable Japanese food. Also, make sure you visit one of the famous conveyor belt Sushi restaurants – they are scattered all over and offer a great (and not-too-expensive) dining experience.
Attractions and Entry Fees
The good thing is that a LOT of the attractions such as Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Inari Shrine, Tokyo’s parks, and viewpoints for Mt. Fuji are free for visitors. However do set aside a sum of £100/per person for the entire trip – this will cover tickets for the cable car at Mt. Fuji, parks such as Hamarakiyu Gardens, and attractions such as Osaka Castle. This does not include the entry fee for Disneyland Tokyo (£50 for a day pass) or skiing slopes at Hakuba (£40 for all resort pass for a day) – add those to your budget if you intend to do either of those things.
Summary of costs
- Japan Rail Pass: £280 per person for 2 weeks
- Add on transportation: £50 per person for 2 weeks
- Accommodation: £100 per day (average)
- Food: £50 per person per day (significantly higher if you eat all meals in a restaurant and have alcohol with meals)
- Attractions: £100 per person (Add £50 for Disneyland and £40 per day for Skiing)
If you have any specific questions about the prices and budget, please feel free to ask in the comments below 🙂