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6 Surprisingly Cheap Things in Japan

6 Surprisingly Cheap Things in Japan

Last updated: 14 October 2020

Japan is a country well known to have a high cost of living and is often said to be expensive to travel around. While these may be true, it doesn’t mean everything in Japan is expensive!

In this article, we’ll take a look at some things we found to be cheaper in Japan than in most countries!

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Izakaya Pubs: Eating Out is Cheaper in Japan
  2. 2. All-you-can-drink?! Drinking in Japan is Cheap!
  3. 3. Sushi in Japan Is Cheap to Eat!
  4. 4. Manga is Cheap in Japan!
  5. 5. Japanese Fast Food is Cheaper Than You'd Think!
  6. 6. Japanese Clothing Brands are Cheaper in Japan!
  7. Bonus: Free Pocket Tissues!?

1. Izakaya Pubs: Eating Out is Cheaper in Japan

1. Izakaya Pubs: Eating Out is Cheaper in Japan

Izakaya can be found just about anywhere you go in Japan and serve a large selection of alcohol and small portions of different kinds of food. Often compared to bars or pubs, izakaya are informal places where you can go in the evening or night to just hang out with friends over a drink and some food. Most izakaya (especially chain izakaya) are very reasonably priced.

Most izakayas will serve typical Japanese side dishes, and those that don’t will have a certain theme. There are countless famous chain izakaya.

Torikizoku is known for serving chicken dishes and tasty yakitori. Isomaru Suisan is popular for its fresh seafood, some of which you can enjoy grilling yourself! Tsukada Nojo, famous for its free-range chickens grown by the same company, is well-known for its dishes in Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures. And another izakaya is Watami, which serves mainly Japanese dishes and is known for using organic vegetables made on their own farms.

With so many izakaya around, it may be difficult to choose which to try! However, we definitely recommend checking them out while on your trip to Japan as they are unique to Japan, delicious, and best of all—affordable!


2. All-you-can-drink?! Drinking in Japan is Cheap!

2. All-you-can-drink?! Drinking in Japan is Cheap!

In many countries, buffets and all-you-can-eat options can be common things to see at restaurants, but all-you-can-drink is totally unthinkable! However, in Japan not only is all-you-can-drink (nomihodai) common, it may actually be a more economical choice!

Most izakayas’ drinks will be priced around 450 to 600 yen apiece while all-you-can-drink will only cost you around 1,500 to 2,000 yen.

All-you-can-drink will usually last for two hours, making it more cost-effective than just having normal drinks depending on the person. You can choose any drink off the menu and get another of the same, or select something different when you’re ready for more! You’re also not limited to only alcohol as soft drinks are also available.

At many izakayas, there is a normal drink menu and an all-you-can-drink menu. Be sure to check both menus when making your selection!


3. Sushi in Japan Is Cheap to Eat!

3. Sushi in Japan Is Cheap to Eat!

Sushi is a dish that just needs to be mentioned when talking about Japan! While there are extremely expensive sushi restaurants, there are also very reasonable ones—especially conveyor belt sushi restaurants which can be found in many places in Japan.

Many of these restaurants offer a plate of two pieces of sushi from around 100 yen.

Japan is famous for its convenience, and it’s even made its way to sushi! At these conveyor belt sushi restaurants, you can get fresh and cheap sushi by ordering it on a touch screen. Your item will then be delivered to your table via the conveyor belt!

Some very popular conveyor belt sushi restaurants that can be found throughout the country are Sushiro, Kappa Sushi, Genki Sushi, and Hama Sushi. They’re all well-loved, delicious, family-friendly restaurants that any sushi lover needs to visit!


4. Manga is Cheap in Japan!

4. Manga is Cheap in Japan!

Many Japan-lovers will be very familiar with these comics! Japanese manga is fairly expensive in other countries because of the fact that they are translated works. However, in Japan they can often be bought brand new for under 500 yen!

For those who want to find some even cheaper manga, second-hand book stores are the place to look! One notable famous used book shop is Book Off, which sells good quality used books for very low prices. Sometimes you can get used manga in mint condition for around 100 yen!

While these books will of course be in Japanese, many fans of a certain series will buy it so they can have the original thing or to brush up on their Japanese!


5. Japanese Fast Food is Cheaper Than You'd Think!

5. Japanese Fast Food is Cheaper Than You'd Think!

Japanese food is delicious, as I’m sure we all know! However, sometimes it can be a bit pricey or hard to find a nice place to eat at. This is why we recommend checking out some Japanese fast food restaurants!

These Japanese fast food chains like Yoshinoya, Sukiya, and Matsuya are usually famous for their gyudon, or beef bowls. However, they usually sell different variations of it and other dishes as well.

On these beef bowls you can add things like onion, raw or soft boiled egg, kimchi, cheese, and more! These shops usually offer other foods as well such as curry, udon, tonkatsu, veggies, hot pot, and more! Sides are also found on their menus for those who would like something else off the menu as well.


6. Japanese Clothing Brands are Cheaper in Japan!

6. Japanese Clothing Brands are Cheaper in Japan!

This may be a given, but Japanese clothing brands are also much cheaper when bought in Japan, even if you may have the same store in your country!

Stop in at the more inexpensive stores, such as Uniqlo or GU, to experience additional savings. If you are interested in luxury brands like COMME des GARÇON or Yohji Yamamoto, you can find a favorite at a lower cost than you would outside Japan.

With either of these options, it’s universal that the selections will be much cheaper here than you will find back home! For all fashion lovers, discovering some of the unique Japanese brands while you’re here will be well worth your time!

As you can see, not everything in Japan is expensive. Knowing what’s cheap can really be a life saver on a trip, so try to keep these helpful tips in mind!

Bonus: Free Pocket Tissues!?

Bonus: Free Pocket Tissues!?

You never know when you’ll need these, and in Japan you are sure to have an endless supply.

Many are quick to notice that you can often pick these up for free on the street. In Japan, it’s common to promote your company or an event by handing out pocket tissue packs with an advertisement on them!

This tissue marketing is seen solely in Japan and was introduced because, unlike the average paper with advertisements on them which are usually swiftly thrown in the trash, you can actually keep them with you and use them for a while!

Despite these being free, the quality doesn’t change too significantly to those you can buy in a store. (However, even if you purchase your tissues, they only cost around 100 yen for several packs!)

Written by Lindsey Schultz
Top image credit: Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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