Nov 3, 2015

How Much Money Do I Need For My First Week In Japan?

How Much Money Do I Need For My First Week In Japan? photo

There are a number of circumstances under which one might arrive in Japan to work.  For some, prospective employers take care of everything pertaining to a new workers initial days ‘in country’.  Airport pick up, hotel arranged and paid for, welcome dinners and drinks, and a shiny new apartment ready to move into as soon as the jet lag has passed.  Others are not so fortunate, or organised, sometimes turning up to Japan on Tourist Visas and hoping to chance their way into work.

What we want to look at here, is the question, How much money do I need to cover my initial days in Japan?  That time before starting work.  Before moving into a new place … assuming both work and permanent accommodation are set up and, nearly, ready to go. Hopefully this will also serve as a guide for people just over here for a visit.

We’ll choose our location as Tokyo for two reasons; it’s the most likely port of arrival in Japan, and it sets a ‘worst case scenario’ as the most expensive city in the country.  So, first up, How much money do I need ...

to get from Narita Airport into Tokyo?


KEISEI Skyliner to Ueno - 2,470 yen

Local train to Ueno - ~1,200 yen

Narita Express to Shinjuku - 3,190 yen

Local trains to Shinjuku - ~1,300 yen


To Tokyo/Ginza station areas - ~1,000 yen

How Much Money Do I Need For My First Week In Japan? photo

Accommodation (prices based on single occupancy)

Dormitory (Sharing with up to ~ 8 people)

Nightly rate: 1,700 - 3,500 yen

6 night stay: 10,200 - 21,000 yen

Private Room (cheap business hotel)

Business hotels abound in the capital.  Chain operations with English language reservation pages include Toyoko Inn, Super Hotel, and APA Hotel.

Nightly rate: 6,000 - 10,000 yen

Six night stay: 36,000 - 60,000 yen

Manga Kissa (Internet cafes)

In an earlier post at City-Cost (here), we talked about the possibility of making a temporary home out of Internet cafes.  At such an early stage, you’d have to be very desperate, very brave, or really keen on manga to make use of these.  Either way, it probably helps if you’re a smoker, too.

Nightly rate (6-9 hrs): ~ 1,500 yen

Six night stay:  9,000 yen


Breakfast - This might be served with your accommodation plan.  If not …

Coffee and bread from a convenience store:  200 - 300 yen

MacDonald’s set:  450 yen

Full English Breakfast: ~1,000 yen


For around 500 yen, you might be able to get by with Japanese ‘fast food’ (bowls of rice/noodles topped with meats).  Check Yoshinoya (吉野家), Matsuya(松屋), Sukiya(すき屋), TendonTenya (天丼てんや) to name just a few.

A pack of sandwiches from a convenience store - ~250 yen

Supermarket bento (pre-cooked lunch): 400 - 600 yen


Some of the lunches above might suffice.  If not …

Plate of food and drink from a department store restaurant:  1,000 - 1,500 yen

Big Mac Set  (fries/coke- medium):  670 yen

Big bowl of ramen: ~ 700 yen

Fast/standing steak: 1,000 - 1,300 yen

How Much Money Do I Need For My First Week In Japan? photo


Of course, this could be 0 yen if you’re happy to get as far as possible on foot.  If you have other commitments or you wish to sightsee before starting work, have a look at our article; What’s The Cost of a Day’s Train Travel in Tokyo?  In summary …

Half day exploring a limited area:  300 - 500 yen

A full/active day (in the city):  1,000 - 1,500 yen

Day trip out of town: 3,000 - 5,000 yen (return)

Totals For The Week

At the lower end of cheap …

Transport: ~ 3,000 - 8,000 yen

Accommodation:  9,000 - 36,000 yen

Food:  7,000 yen

Total: 19,000 - 51,000 yen

At the upper end (of cheap) …

Transport: 7,000 - 14,000 yen

Accommodation:  ~ 60,000 yen

Food: ~ 18,000 yen

Total:  ~ 85,000 - 92,000 yen

These are obviously ballpark figures to get you started, at the cheaper end of the scale.  The ability to share accommodation will have a significant influence on these budgets.  

Deeper pockets can be put to good use in Tokyo, where there is no end to the amount one can spend on transport, food and accommodation.  Of course, add a little extra on for the odd beer, entrance fees to attractions, and any other luxuries.  

If you’ve your own answers to the question, ‘How much money do I need for my first week in Japan?’, we’d love to hear them.  Join the conversation below.

For more content on how much it costs to move to Japan, see an earlier post:

Moving To Japan. How Much Money Do I Need?

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