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How much does it cost day-to-day in Japan? (planning a 9-10 month trip)

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My background:
  • 18 years old
  • half Japanese, half British
Next year I intend to take a gap year in Japan. I have family who live in Osaka, so I will live with them for my stay (or at least a significant portion of it). The costs of living (as in accomodation, language schools etc...) are pretty much worked out and set in stone. The area which I am having some issues with is how much money I would need to bring for just "casual" use. This could range from eating out/going out with friends, travelling to different prefectures as a tourist or even just buying snacks from the local 7-Eleven. If you have things that you think fall into that category, please feel free to mention them.

The question:
"How much money would you suggest (for each month) would be enough for these 'casual' expenses?"
*the question is a little awkward, so please do ask me to clarify anything if you don't understand.

Thank you very much in advance for both taking the time to read this and reply!
 

mdchachi

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Under the assumption that most day-to-day breakfast & dinner meals are covered at home, I'd maybe start with:

Y1000/day for food
Y1000/day for train/bus fares.
Y2500/week for hanging out with your friends at izakaya (assuming they are students/budget-oriented)

You might want other transportation options such as a bicycle or scooter. So plan accordingly.

For travel & recreation, it really depends.
If you go to some ticketed event like sumo or concert or something, could be Y3500 to Y10,000 for tickets alone.
Night at minshuku/ryokan could be Y2000 to Y10,000/person depending on how fancy you go.
Transportation for recreation can easily reach Y20,000 round trip. More if it's farther and via shinkansen. Less if it's relatively close and you can take a bus. Most expensive bus trip I ever took was Y14,000 round trip (Tokyo - Oze).
A car trip with your friends sharing gas/road tolls around Y5000.
Two days skiing with one-night lodging, lift tickets & rental Y20,000
Your share of the beer/food for ohanami or fireworks Y2000.
Entry fees into shrines, temples or other sites. Y300 to Y1200.
Consider taxi as well. You can easily blow your budget on taxi rides if you aren't careful.

Although my data is very old, I think it's still relevant given the lack of inflation all these years.
One not insignificant expense I had that you don't is film & film developing expenses. :laugh:
 
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Under the assumption that most day-to-day breakfast & dinner meals are covered at home, I'd maybe start with:

Y1000/day for food
Y1000/day for train/bus fares.
Y2500/week for hanging out with your friends at izakaya (assuming they are students/budget-oriented)

You might want other transportation options such as a bicycle or scooter. So plan accordingly.

For travel & recreation, it really depends.
If you go to some ticketed event like sumo or concert or something, could be Y3500 to Y10,000 for tickets alone.
Night at minshuku/ryokan could be Y2000 to Y10,000/person depending on how fancy you go.
Transportation for recreation can easily reach Y20,000 round trip. More if it's farther and via shinkansen. Less if it's relatively close and you can take a bus. Most expensive bus trip I ever took was Y14,000 round trip (Tokyo - Oze).
A car trip with your friends sharing gas/road tolls around Y5000.
Two days skiing with one-night lodging, lift tickets & rental Y20,000
Your share of the beer/food for ohanami or fireworks Y2000.
Entry fees into shrines, temples or other sites. Y300 to Y1200.
Consider taxi as well. You can easily blow your budget on taxi rides if you aren't careful.

Although my data is very old, I think it's still relevant given the lack of inflation all these years.
One not insignificant expense I had that you don't is film & film developing expenses. :laugh:
Thank you so much for this really well informed response! You have posted on my previous posts with similar quality and I am INCREDIBLY grateful for your continued support. Everything that you wrote gave me my answer (and more!), so once again, "THANK YOU!!".
 
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Under the assumption that most day-to-day breakfast & dinner meals are covered at home, I'd maybe start with:

Y1000/day for food
Y1000/day for train/bus fares.
Y2500/week for hanging out with your friends at izakaya (assuming they are students/budget-oriented)

You might want other transportation options such as a bicycle or scooter. So plan accordingly.

For travel & recreation, it really depends.
If you go to some ticketed event like sumo or concert or something, could be Y3500 to Y10,000 for tickets alone.
Night at minshuku/ryokan could be Y2000 to Y10,000/person depending on how fancy you go.
Transportation for recreation can easily reach Y20,000 round trip. More if it's farther and via shinkansen. Less if it's relatively close and you can take a bus. Most expensive bus trip I ever took was Y14,000 round trip (Tokyo - Oze).
A car trip with your friends sharing gas/road tolls around Y5000.
Two days skiing with one-night lodging, lift tickets & rental Y20,000
Your share of the beer/food for ohanami or fireworks Y2000.
Entry fees into shrines, temples or other sites. Y300 to Y1200.
Consider taxi as well. You can easily blow your budget on taxi rides if you aren't careful.

Although my data is very old, I think it's still relevant given the lack of inflation all these years.
One not insignificant expense I had that you don't is film & film developing expenses. :laugh:
I'd absolutely agree that it's relevant these days, and far more comprehensive than I was planning on doing.
 

mdchachi

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I'd absolutely agree that it's relevant these days, and far more comprehensive than I was planning on doing.
Thanks. I still have all my expenses in Quicken from those days and can look up almost exactly where my money went. It's been very helpful for dating photos decades later.
 
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Thanks. I still have all my expenses in Quicken from those days and can look up almost exactly where my money went. It's been very helpful for dating photos decades later.
:facepalm:

I can barely manage to remember to scan and save my business receipts!
 

nice gaijin

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Transportation and food/drinks will be your biggest day to day expenses, and it really depends on the lifestyle you want to have. You can get by relatively cheap if you plan ahead and buy things at the market instead of the combini, but if you're eating out you're more likely to average around 1000 per meal (conservatively). Going out at night can get really expensive, but it all depends on where you go and what you do. As an 18 year old, you can avoid blowing a bunch of money on clubs and alcohol, which I've observed as sometimes fun, but mostly wasteful habits.

If you commute somewhere daily you can get a Teiki which will let you ride all you want between two points, which could be useful for reducing your transportation costs if your commute goes through stations you frequent.

For inter-prefectural travel, you can't beat the shinkansen for convenience but it gets expensive fast; the night/day buses on rakuten travel are decent value if you don't mind planning ahead a little and spending some more time on the road, and sometimes a good deal comes by. If you want to ride in luxury, go for the 3-seater buses.

You hold a Japanese passport, so you aren't limited to the landing visa, correct?
 
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Under the assumption that most day-to-day breakfast & dinner meals are covered at home, I'd maybe start with:

Y1000/day for food
Y1000/day for train/bus fares.
Y2500/week for hanging out with your friends at izakaya (assuming they are students/budget-oriented)
I would calculate a bit more to be on the safe side. I remember very well how in the begining everything seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity. "I might miss out on the best night ever/new friends/the love of my life if I don't join this party" was a feeling that I know many people had when they first came to Japan. I'm talking about 21-25 year old exchange students, but 18 yo (in Europe) aren't that far behind on drinking etc. It is very hard to say no when people invite you.

Also keep in mind that at the cheapest izakayas (I think 300 yen bars are the cheapest you can often encounter) it is still only 8 items plus tax. Go twice a week and it is 4 items per time. IF you have the opportunity to save, I would go for at least 5000Yen a week for drinking/dates/movies/hanging out and other fun related activities. For travel you should set aside a separate budget. It is best to save more than you are intending to spend. You don't have to spend it all but remember: it is a gap year and you might get that "but it is only once in a lifetime" feeling when you have the drink menu at the karaoke bar in front of you and your budget for that week is already spent on the latest MOS burger wagyu special..
 

Mike Cash

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Is a part-time job something you have considered doing during your stay?
 
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If you'll be 19 when you go, you technically can't buy alcohol at all right?

Just in case you hadn't thought about it and want to conscientiously obey the law. I doubt anyone would actually care about you being underage. I was never ID'd in Japan despite being not that much over 20.
 
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Is a part-time job something you have considered doing during your stay?
Can I find work as a half-Japanese 18-19 yr old with limited Japanese language ability? | Japan Forum
I started a thread on this a while back now. I will definitely be looking for a job, however I am fully aware that it will be an uphill struggle due to my proficiency in the language. If you have anything you can add to this or have any suggestions, I'd really love to hear what you have to say. Thank youu!
 
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If you'll be 19 when you go, you technically can't buy alcohol at all right?

Just in case you hadn't thought about it and want to conscientiously obey the law. I doubt anyone would actually care about you being underage. I was never ID'd in Japan despite being not that much over 20.
Yeah, I wasn't too aware of the laws until you just mentioned it. I, as an 18 year old in the UK, go on nights out quite frequently, so it'll be interesting to see what university-aged students do for social activities. I'm 5ft11, so i'm just above average in the UK, but I'm significantly taller than my Japanese counterparts. Maybe they'll associate size with age. Did you go to any 'clubs' when you were in Japan? If so, do they require an ID?
 
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I have seen plenty of underage (for Japanese standards) people enter bars and clubs. I have also seen bouncers refuse underage people. I think it is a matter or trial and error. There are plenty of casual bars where you should have no problem. You can always let your adult friend (if you have one with you) order the drinks at the bar. The convenience stores just want you to press the "yes, I have reached the legal age" button.

Not trying to offend any law-abiding citizens here. I just come from a country where you could enter a bar at 16 back in the day:cigar:. Nowadays it is 18.
 
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@sukarro
I went to several bars but nothing that could be called a "club". I wasn't in Japan all that long so my empirical "I never got checked" may not be accurate.

I think it's a similar situation to the UK - very few people wait until they're "of age" to start drinking, and get around the law in various ways (admittedly tougher in the UK now that Wetherspoons and other chain pubs have started IDing everyone under 30... not the situation in the Hub!)

I suspect they're more likely to question you or ask for ID if you look more Japanese than foreign, since none of my gaijin friends ever got asked for ID. The first couple of times the "press the button if you're over 20" notice came up in the konbini, I didn't have time to read it properly before the employee pressed it for me! Maybe they just can't be bothered with the hassle of trying to communicate to a foreigner that they should be over 20?
 
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The first couple of times the "press the button if you're over 20" notice came up in the konbini, I didn't have time to read it properly before the employee pressed it for me! Maybe they just can't be bothered with the hassle of trying to communicate to a foreigner that they should be over 20?
I regularly see them doing it for Japanese customers, so probably not a foreigner thing. Probably more of a 'If I can perform the service for the customer, I will.' thing. As with everything, it depends on the store. I've also had clerks ask me to press it.
 
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@WonkoTheSane
I guess I'm surprised because I was only 22 and often get mistaken for a teenager even a couple of years on, so they shouldn't really be doing that for me without saying a word (I understand if the customer is blatantly older than 20, but I'm not). They seem to care a lot more in the UK - I was even asked for ID to buy alcohol-filled chocolates within the past year XD

Anyway it doesn't really matter here - since the OP is half-Japanese I don't know how much he would get treated like a gaijin if there is any substantial difference. To OP I'd say - it seems like if they do ever ask for ID in a konbini or bar, it's far less often than the UK, so probably if you want to drink you can. But at least now you're aware it's technically not allowed so don't kick up a fuss if they do question you.
 
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