Saturday, September 26, 2015

Japan On Budget

Dear all,

Reminiscing my last very memorable trip to Japan, I want to write a bit of my journey. And excuse me if I am super late to share the story. Lately I cannot afford much free time :(

The reason I want to share the trip in this blog is because I want to keep remember this trip even I get older, and I want to share to the world especially fellow Indonesian that it is possible to have a budget travel to Japan. Many myths heard that Japan is an expensive country. Well, I have been there as a tourist and I personally think that the perception depends on how you take it.

In total, I spent almost 12 million for 7 days and it is VERY POSSIBLE to spent less than 10 million but I was a little impulsive in my last days in Japan, too many shopping.

Early summary, why it is possible to go to Japan on budget:
- Find cheap airplane ticket.
- Water is free in Japan from tap water
- Buy foods from convenient stores like Lawson, Family Mart, Seven Eleven, etc.
- Don't be impulsive buyer, don't spend so much on souvenirs (which I did)
- Plan thoroughly. Pick your priorities places.
- Stay on budget hotel such as dormitory (usually shared with 6 or more people) or capsule hotel.
- Walk and walk. Use bus or train smartly so pay as your destination.
- Renting a portable internet modem is optional. Convenience stores sometimes provide free wifi.
- Keep calm. Japanese people are very very very humble and friendly. Don't be afraid to be scammed.

Let's start!
PS: I will be using word 'Japan on budget' often. Stay til the end of the post, I also share my itinerary for your reference.

1. Budget Airlines
First thing you need to have Japan on budget is find the cheap return ticket as well. I bought a return ticket from Air Asia for IDR 3,500,000 and already include a baggage.

The departure route was from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo and the return route is from Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta. Air Asia's plane for flight from KL-TKO is an airbus, so it's a three rows seating but don't expect high comfort because to be honest the space for your leg is not spacious, remember about budget airline. To overcome the long flight from Tokyo to KL, and to avoid legs cramp, I usually walked to the toilet for sometimes and I sleep.

2. Manage visa on your own.
For non e-passport holder, you still need to make a visa. Many people choose to apply via agent to be more hassle free but of course you have to pay more expensive. To read how to apply visa, you can read my blog post here (in Bahasa Indonesia).

3. Sleeping smart and on budget
Be well prepared on itinerary, do research please. You don't want to come home from Japan feeling regret because you could have got many cheaper items. I booked the hotel from Agoda and honestly, my hotel was not the cheapest one because I and my friend thought we wanted to have a comfortable sleep and it's very important to rest. Besides, the cost on this hotel we stayed was not that expensive. The rate per night was mostly IDR 700,000 (each person paid 350,000), however it sometimes cost more than that. We thought it was a good deal because it is Japan, and even for hotel in Jakarta, such price is sometimes hard to find. But remember, you could get much cheaper price. The alternatives are staying in capsule hotel, dormitory or internet cafe.

Sharing my actual experience, I spent a night on an overnight bus from Tokyo to Kyoto. It saved a night in a hotel and this deal moved us to another city in Japan.

Note: Most hotel we were staying did not allow us to take a bath before the check-in time (usually 2 PM). So after the overnight bus, we arrived in Kyoto in a mess at 7 am desperately need to brush our teeth and have a proper bath. Finally we brushed our teeth in the underground station's toilet. It's not Japanese people are rude, I respect their rules that we cannot 'borrow' their bathroom for showering before the check-in time.

Place to sleep during my stay:
- Tokyo: Tama Ryokan  (USD 127.92 for two nights and for two people in private room, back then dollar rate was not this high rate like nowadays)
- Tokyo: Hostel Komatsu Ueno (USD 62.92, private room)
- Kyoto: Kiraku Inn
- Overnight bus: Willer express.

4. Eat smart
During our stay, honestly we ate Lawson food often but I LOVE how all convenience stores in Japan provide such delicious instant food. They even have cakes that are usually served in Cafe. There are Lawson, Family Mart and Seven Eleven in Japan and also in Indonesia. But in Indonesia, the instant foods served are not as tempting and as complete as they are in Japan. I wish I could bring all of the foods home.

The convenience stores don't only serve instant frozen foods but they do have warm food. What I love the most is their onigiri. Words cannot do justice how different the taste with the one in Jakarta.

The other days, we were a bit royal. We spent more money for foods, like the 1500 yen we spent on Tsukiji Market. We also had a lot of street ramen, udon and yakitori. Surprising enough, the street foods are actually very affordable. We did not have to try too much to find cheap restaurant around our inn in Tokyo and Kyoto.

And btw, good news is you can drink for almost all tap water in Japan. Yayness! We really saved a LOT of money because of this. We filled our empty bottle with tap water during our outside activities. Just make sure the tap water is eligible for drink.

convenience store

convenience store

Warm milk tea from lawson. Yes Lawson in Japan has hot cabinet. and the milk tea is very nice. suitable for drink in the middle of cold Shibuya.

Delicious ramen and below 50k thousand IDR.

At Lawson.
Yummy instant and cheap food from Lawson

Lawson food. the yakitori is SOOOO NICE. and cheap.


5. Transportation 101
There are many types of transportation in Japan: train, Shinkansen, bus, taxi, ferry, etc. But I only tried train and bus. Shinkansen is expensive and as I did Japan on budget thingy, I did not try this famous high speed train.

Let me tell you this. Railway routes in Japan is very complicated (riweuh in Sundanese). First time I saw the route I was like 'will i ever be able to understand this?' The key is keep researching before you go and know your destination. Once you are in Japan, don't be shy to ask to local if you are confused about where to go, Japanese are very helpful and friendly. And don't be afraid to the joy of being lost. Sometimes being lost is the meaning of the travel itself :)

How to get to center of Tokyo from Narita? You can take a train in Narita airport that connects with the cities in Japan. You can purchase the ticket in the airport. There are many ticket agents promising the fastest time, the cheapest price, the most comfortable seat, etc. Be careful to choose. Don't decide immediately after only asking from 1 agent. I almost bought one expensive train ticket but the fastest. However I did not need fastest, I need cheapest :P Luckily I moved to the next agents and found the cheap one and it did not take that long to Shinjuku.

How to get to Kyoto from Tokyo? I picked an overnight bus by Willer Express and it saved me the cost for hotel. The price was still okay to me. The seat was comfortable, I got electricity as well.

How to get to Tokyo from Kyoto? Again, I picked an overnight bus from Willer Express. Depart from Gion Shijyo Station (Kyoto) and arrive at terminal shinjuku west exit (Shinjuku Sumitomo BLDG 1F). Cost 13,200 yen for two.

How to get to Tsukiji Market? The nearest station to Tsukiji Market is actually Tsukijishijo Station, reachable by the Toei Subway Oedo Line (The Magenta coloured line). If you would take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to the Tsukiji Station, it would be about a 10 minutes walk. You can take the Oedo Subway Line directly from Shinjuku Station to Tsukiji Shijo Station. The one way trip will take about 20 minutes and cost 260 yen.

How to get to Fuji Mountain? From Shinjuku Station take Keio highway go to Kawaguchiko Station (via Keio highway bus terminal/fujikyu bus 1101).

Willer Express overnight bus to Kyoto

Willer Express overnight bus. Cute, right?

6. Priorotize your activities
I wanted to go to Disney Sea (it cost 6,400 yen on April 2015) however I didn't go there because I need to allocate the budget for more activities. So during my stay in Japan, my activites are:
- Seeing the remaining Sakura blooms in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park (entrance fee is cheap but apologize i forgot the fee)
- Alcatraz Cafe. It is a really unique cafe I have ever seen. Serving a creepy hospital concept, this cafe got you pay a 500 JPY entrance fee (exclude foods and beverages). But the experience was worth it.
- Ichiran ramen. This is a must! The best ramen my entire life, and people like it too, proven by how long we should queue to eat here. the concept for food purchasing is unique because we choose the menu on the machine and directly insert the cash inside. The eating place is cute too, it's like a cubicle in the office where you are separated by a board with someone beside you. I assume this is to prevent you from talking during eating and to cut the unnecessary long time to eat, remember, the queue.
- Go to Takeshita Dori, Harajuku street. No entrance fee because basically it's just an open street. But there are soooo many delicioud foods there. I was tempted to try all of them but I remember my Japan on budget thing.
- Line store. Know the gang of Cony, Brown, etc? You can find fiant Brown there and of course everyone took a picture with the cute giant doll. Again, it is free.
- Shibuya. Remember Hachiko? Taking picture with this statue is free. I enjoyed my time watching the famous Shibuya crossing. I and my friend passed the crossing several times and took picture in between the overload tresspasers. Nah, you now have beautiful picture to be posted on Instagram. And it is, again, free.
- Eat yakitori. Well there are many pork and chicken yakitori sold in Tokyo. Oh I tried several yakitori places and all of them are too delicious to be described.
- In Kawaguchiko, try Shibazakura Festival and Mount Fuji. As I went in April, I could see the blooming Sakura and an occasional festival. There was entrance fee to Shibazakura festival but it was not expensive. Don't forget to wear thick sweater. The coldness was beyond what I thought it could be.
- In Kawaguchiko, went to Ice Cave. There was entrance fee to the ice cave and not expensive. We should use boots and helmet (rented for free by the management). Inside the cave was ultra cold. I remember shivering without hand gloves. The journey inside the Ice Cave took only 10-15 minutes, so short. You can see the chunks of ice which believed to be naturally appear.
- Tsukiji Market, the largest fish market in Tokyo. I ate sashimi rice for 1500 yen (the most expensive meal) and that was like the cheapest price in entire Tsukiji Market. No wonder the queue was enormously long. How long? 40 minutes queuing.
- 100 yen shop is a must.
- Akihabara, a large electronics district. My friend bought an iPhone 6 in Akihabara with almost 2 millions Rupiah cheaper than market price in Indonesia. Applause...

- Fushimi Inari. You could be tempted to buy many amulets there. The price of the amulets are not very cheap though. Some are 500 yen and more.
- Gion, rent a kimono. If you want, spare some budget for this, guys. It was not that cheap.
- Arashiyama area: Togetsukyo Bridge, Tenryuji Temple, Bamboo Groves. I also rented a bicycle at Arashiyama and the ride was very addicting. Initially, we rented for 2 hours but then extended until 4 hours or so.
- Onsen/hot spring is a must for me. It was the best choice because we were so tired after everyday long walking and cold weather. Onsen was a relief to our sore and tired muscles. Advise: The water in onsen is very hot. Remember to pur your body with warm water first to calibrate your body temperature with the water, or else you will feel dizzy in instant you get in the hot spring (like me and my friend). And you must be completely naked. Worth the experience, though. Don't worry, the are for boys and girls are separated.
- 100 yen shop. We knew we were going to Daisho in Kyoto but we did not know how to get there. So after long minutes of getting lost in Kyoto, we found Daisho and one 100 yen shop across Daisho. Then I started become impulsive in buying so many 100 yen souvenirs and foods which in total could cover my three times cheap meals in Japan.
Remaining Sakura at Shinjuku Gyoen

At Shinjuku Gyoen

Unique concept at Alcatraz

At Takeshita Dori

Giant Brown at Line Store near Harajuku St

Yakitori. This is tooo delicious no words can describe.
Shibazakura Festival
Ichiran Ramen: Choose your preference before you input to the machine by yourself
Unique concept of eating table at Ichiran Ramen
THIS IS ICHIRAN RAMEN. a must try for ramen lovers. the best!

The cheapest amongst all in Tsukiji Market.
Lunch at Tsukiji Market.
At Tsukiji Market. Look at the long queue. 40 minutes is no joke!

Kyoto: Fushimi Inari
Rent a Kimono at Kyoto.

Hachiko Statue at Shibuya

Shibuya Crossing

Arashiyama with Togetsukyo Bridge as the background and my bicycle

At Bamboo Forrest, Arashiyama
Saw a geisha at Gion, Kyoto
What took the budget that actually could be more pressed *LOL*

7. Internet modem rental
Remember I mentioned that you could save more budget? Yes you can by not renting internet modem because some convenience stores actually provide it free. But I and my friend rented a modem because we could not cut the connection with the world (read: we need to update our social media platforms hence we need real time internet *smile*), besides, internet actually helped us A LOT for finding directions. Google Map needs internet connection, remember? If you do not want to spend more money on rental, you can rely on asking people on the street. For us, even though we rent a modem, we still lost every time. We spent total 5,952 JPY for 6 days of usage. I don't remember if the internet quota was unlimited or not but it will not run out unless you watch youtube or movie by your phone, which is unlikely. The modem we rent is from Pupuru (

Pupuru wifi: Free delivery to your chosen address, free return to any post box.

Always get lost even though we have an internet connection with us

My Itinerary
Many people have been asking for my itinerary. I hope this can help and sorry for taking long time to share.

Please check to for bus route and literally for everything about Japan, for any possibilities of change. This website has helped me on everything I need to know about Japan.
I really hope to be back to Japan again. Japan is my most favorite destination now, I feel so blessed as well for being able to visit this country in my early twenties. Next time should bring my parents here, Amen.

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your stories about Japan too :) And please don't hesitate to ask. I will try my best to answer.


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  1. Thank you for your handy tips and guidance of Japan!
    I've heard about the food in convenient store and how
    ridiculously good they are!
    Xx Ice Pandora

  2. nice! Just went to Japan last month and I had a blast!

  3. nice post, oya, i would like to ask
    Sebenarnya karimun jawa itu dimana sih? Di jepara kota ukir atau dimana? Sudah saya cek jadwal kapal terbaru tapi masih bingung, apalagi dengan harga paket wisata 2016, apa liburan ke karimunjawa bisa 2 hari 1 malam, 3 hari 2 malam, atau 4 hari 3 malam? Rencana sih saya mau backpacker sendiri, tapi istri saya malah ngajak honeymoon di hotel karimunjawa. Yang penting saya nyoba ikut wisata karimunjawa ah, siapa tahu dapat harga paket murah, ikut paket homestay juga nggak apa-apa hihihi...

  4. Next year should be better
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    selain itu juga ada batuk kronis atau batuk akut
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  5. Hallo salam kenal,

    aku pengen nanya nih soal willer bus yang ada di Gion Shijyo Station (Kyoto). aku kebetulan mau pesan willer dari tokyo - kyoto turun di Gion Shijyo Station. Dari halte bus ini apa dekat kemana mana? dan dekat situ apa ada loker untuk titip barang?

  6. Admin, if not okay please remove!

    Our facebook group “selfless” is spending this month spreading awareness on prostate cancer & research with a custom t-shirt design. Purchase proceeds will go to, as listed on the shirt and shirt design.

  7. Your article has piqued a lot of positive interest. I can see why since you have done such a good job of making it interesting.

  8. mba for working professionals
    pleasant! Just went to Japan a month ago and I had an awesome time!


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