Eating On The Cheap In Japan

Japan is an expensive place, that’s what most of us knew until I visited it last Holiday season. Before experiencing Japan, I was under the impression that food is expensive there, well that is partly true specially if you don’t know where to go but if you buy your food in the supermarket or even in some food stalls it is possible to survive with only US$3.50 per meal and still eat proper delicious food.


If you are in a budget when you travel Japan supermarkets are you best friend as they sell pre packed food that is really inexpensive but still tastes great and presented really well, some are even better than restaurants. Food items from supermarket is also not limited and it can range from bento boxes filled with different sushi and sashimi, kushikatsu, tempura, tonkatsu, curry, noodle dishes, naporitan spaghetti, teriyaki, you name it they have it.

Bento boxes like this mostly can be bought in supermarkets but take note that they do exist outside supermarkets, I don’t know what they are called but in Tokyo we saw this shop where it just sells food like this, some are pre packed some are displayed like buffet style servers where you grab what you can eat and they price it accordingly at the cashiers.

Just take a look at the gallery below and those are the ones I tried when I was in Japan when I did not fancy eating in a restaurant. If you are really on the stingy side like me sometimes you can wait for the last hour before the supermarket closes as they reduce the price of these takeaway food boxes, you will notice there is an extra sticker that says how much it will be less.


Prices range from ¥299 to ¥600 usually but different regions vary. I noticed food quality is better in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima compared to Tokyo, it is also a bit expensive in Tokyo compared to others, roughly ¥50 to ¥100 more expensive. Contents in Tokyo are also lesser but most of them serve more than what a usual restaurant does so don’t worry if you eat a lot then rest assured a ¥500 to ¥600 bento box is enough to fill you up.

Grabbing this meals supermarket will give you a totally new experience compared to dining in a restaurant where you are limited to what the menu can offer. In supermarket all the food aisle are your menu so experience everything as much as you want by trying different food items not just from the packed meals but items like bread, rice cakes, instant noodles, fruits, drinks, junk food, etc.

So if you think food is expensive in Japan well the answer is no, you just need to live like a local and save that money for other experiences you can have while you’re in this beautiful country of Japan.

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3 Responses

  1. suituapui says:

    Went to Japan in the mid-80’s and even then, it was so so so expensive.

  2. Maureen says:

    This post makes me smile. The first time I went to Tokyo I couldn’t believe the prices. The next time we went I thought we should visit a grocery store. It was the first time I saw huge strawberries sold in plastic containers with ONE strawberry per container. At the time it was $5 Australian dollars. For ONE strawberry! We did find food to snack on in our room and things for breakfast. We also found a tea shop in one store that taught us all about tea and we spent a fortune on gear we’ve never used. 🙂

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