Budget traveling in Japan: Cheap food.

This post is about how to save money when traveling in Japan (read more on cheap rooms and transportation). Japan is not all about sushi. Actually, our first days in Japan we didn’t even see one sushi shop, we were trying so hard to survive on as little money as possible 🙂 We were walking around 7/11 and similar shops like zombies, eating just soup and bagels. But then we got our stuff together and found some cool tricks which made our tummies full without spending so much money.

Okonomiyaki - local specialty of cabbage, eggs, meat and special sauce on top.

1. Family Mart, 7/11 & Lawson

Small stores of these chains are scattered all over. They’re literally on every corner. Set meals which they can be heated up cost around 450 Y (3,8 $) and include rice, piece of meat, some veggies. Hot water is alway on hand for instant noodles or suop (just ask the employees how to use the dispenser). We also liked fresh dougnuts (0,9 $), bananas (3 for 1,6 $) and coffee (1,2 $). Best coffee was in Lawson 🙂 Some stores even have tables and chairs so you can eat your meal in peace.
Other useful thing about these stores is that they have a toilet which you can use for free. It’s like public toilets all over Japan!

2. All hostels have kitchen

So make use of it and eat breakfast and dinner made from store bought ingredients. And you can eat whatever you feel like! If you’ll be exploring during the day, make yourself some snack or grab a cheap lunch in the city.
6 eggs (6 for 1,6 $), toast (6 big thick toasts for 1 $) and cheese spread (1 $) was our breakfast of choice.
If you’re going to eat pasta and sauce it will cost you around 2 $ (per person) which is at least half the price you would pay outside for the cheapest meal.

Sushi from a small fish shop.

3. Supermarket after 8 p.m.

We heard it from several Japanese locals. If you visit a bigger supermarket (like Fresco, …) in the evening, several items will be discounted, mostly for 30 % and some even for 50 %. Bread, desserts, sushi are mostly discounted, so now you can have more for less. Feeling like an advertisement here 😀

4. Fruit is for rich people

Oh, no. Kg of apricots for 9 $, kg of mango for 8 $. One peach for 5 $. Sadly, we didn’t eat fruit in Japan (we did knock ourselves in other parts of Asia where fruit was ridiculously cheap). One thing we were buying were bananas from the Philippines (3 for 1,5 $). Otherwise all fruit is from Japan (which is good) but the regulations make it very expensive.

Sushi chain restaurant. Yum! With our Couchsurfing host.

5. Set meal restaurants

Some taste better, some ok. These are like fast food restaurants, only local. You can find them by their menu which is in sets and by way of paying – it’s always on machines. So first you buy a ticket and then give it to the waiter. Price of a set of soup, main dish, side dish and bowl of rice is from 600 – 1000 Y (4,5 – 8 $), depends on the complexity of menu. The food tastes good and it’s local, and you’ll probably be the only tourist there. You can find them in all cities and towns. We ate there all the time!

6. Cheapest sushi on the planet

Once, we tried sushi in a small local restaurant and it was very expensive and the portion was small. But there are some kind of running sushi chains, where you get a table and a screen where you can order any sushi you want. They make it fresh in the kitchen and send it to your table by a small bullet train. So cute (or kawaii in Japanese :D) and modern! There’s lots of choice and the price for most of sushis is 1 $ for 2 pieces. Cheap! Two of those kinds of restaurants are Genki Sushi and Hamazushi, but I’m sure there’s many more. They’re not always easy to find so we usually a

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