Surviving Tokyo on a budget

A few days ago, a Japanese guy went to visit a homestay in Leyte. Thank you Kensuke for having fun in the Philippines. Now, I have not been to Japan yet.. although I see many people in my friend’s list have been there or is planning to go, thanks to the easing of visa applications.

I’m not yet keen to go visit Japan, coz I’m targeting another continent. Meantime, Sarah of Go Find Sarah lived there already. Yep, she’s country hopping Asia. Let’s see what she has to say about surviving Tokyo on a budget:

Whether you are travelling around or staying put in Tokyo, remember this, even with the Japanese Yen down, Tokyo is still an expensive city (now ranked Asia’s 11th most expensive city).


tokyo on a budget


So… how do traveller’s on a shoe string survive? There are some tips and tricks.

1. Working in a hostel
This is exactly what I am doing right now aside from writing articles. I only work from 11am – 2pm. I get two days off per every seven days worked. I do not work overtime and I certainly do not work any minute less than the agreed 3 hours. Because of this, I get a free place to stay and a bunch of new international friends. Oh, and I get to use the hostel facilities too, such as the computer I am using to type this article out. Cha-ching .

2. Public transportation
Unless you have your own bicycle or some sort of solar paneled bike, parking fees and public transportation fees will kill you. It half killed me, that’s why sometimes I would choose to walk for 30 minutes more just to save ‎¥120. Speaking of public transportation, Tokyo has one of the best and one of the most complicated systems I have ever seen. Different train lines are owned by different companies. I always rely on google map and I very often opt to take JR trains just to save a couple hundred yen. So next time, remember to google your way and check out the various options and prices.

3. 24 hour super market
Where I live, in Asakusa, I can count at least four 24 hour super markets. I love it! It means my friends and I can go down and grab some beer at 4am in the morning because we cannot afford to drink anymore at the bar. And, it can also mean I can grab my favourite ¥82 chocolate bar again whenever I want! But the best thing is, super markets often have a tiny section that sells almost expired food at 15% off. I always hit the discounted veggie and fruit section as it’s the most expensive thing I eat daily. Then there’s the fish, bento box, fried tempura, sushi, salad, and of course, karaage (Japanese fried chicken) sale (usually half the cost, but you need to know the kanji on the sticker). Around 10pm – 12am, you would see people, my kind of people, strolling around the whole super market scrounging for discounted food. I remember this one time where a Japanese lady fought me over dango (sweet rice cake).

4. Clubs
Those who were born with testosterone and wants to go clubbing in Japan better remember to bring your fat wallet to the club. The world was never fair, I know. Guys always have to pay more and ladies always have discounts (or even free on ladies night). That’s just too bad :)

5. English cafe
I’m a bit bored with my life in Tokyo and got introduced to an English cafe. Though various English cafes offer different incentives, mine gives me free drinks every half hour so long as I keep talking to the Japanese customers in English. Wow, free drinks and I get to talk? What a find!!! Just so you know, normally when you have a working visa, you get paid. I’m just there for fun.

6. 100 yen stores and 300 yen stores
Does the name Daiso ring a bell? If so, you’ll love it here. Somehow, everything they sell seem so practical and so cute. And it’s cheap. From snacks to nail polish, house hold items to cute accessories, I just want to own it all. In reality, I don’t really need it, but I can’t stop myself. 300 yen store is like the upscale of a 100 yen store, but a tad bit more expensive. Things do look sturdier, colours more varied, and design seems to be better. Maybe these stories will make me broke after all.