Everyone thinks food in Japan is super expensive. Tokyo does have the most Michelin Star restaurants in the world, but despite the rumors and things you may read, you can eat well and not break the bank in the process while visiting Japan. Here are some tips and prices that I have seen while traveling to Japan.
Let’s start with the city of Tokyo itself. Prices may differ in other cities in Japan, but let’s use Tokyo for the costs of foods because that is the main city most people will visit when they arrive in Japan.
Yes, Tokyo is expensive and has a ton of world class restaurants that can break the bank if you aren’t careful. Where else will you find a ramen restaurant that has a Michelin star? However, while there are places that will break your bank, there are also plenty of cheaper options for each meal throughout the day.
Let’s start with breakfast. Want McDonalds? You can get your McMuffin for about the same price as the states. Craving a more Japanese breakfast? Well, for about $10 USD, you can find a simple set breakfast with meats and rice for an easy and cheap breakfast. What I did when I was there was go to the Family Mart (convenience stores) and would get either an egg sandwich, pastry, etc. and something to drink the night before, spending only about 7 USD (max) and that would be a quick breakfast for the morning. There are other expensive options, but if you aren’t a big breakfast person like me, there are so many cheap options out there in the early morning hours. There are also plenty of places that offer cheap options for breakfast, you will just need to look around.
For lunch, the options are never ending. From department stores, street vendors, and random spots, there is always a restaurant around. From a 5 story building with several basement spots to restaurant that sits 50 floors up, there are plenty of options for whatever you are craving. From ramen to conveyor belt sushi, the options are limitless. I found that lunch would range from $10-15 for a good meal and I ate a lot. From beef curry to a quick sandwich, a $15 range is probably the best range for a meal at noon time, but again, there are always cheaper options (or more expensive).
Lastly, dinner and this is where it gets more expensive. From the higher end sushi restaurants, wagyu restaurants, and beyond, prices can go from $20 for a meal to over $250 in a blink of an eye, so it all depends on what you want and what you have in your wallet. My favorite is finding an izakaya restaurant and getting a lot of yakitori skewer with each one averaging around $2 per skewer. After 5 of 6 of them and a few beers, you will be around $20 to $30 for a really good dinner. Again, it all depends on how hungry you are, want you want, and how much money you want to spend. Most restaurants will have a menu outside and a quick Google search can help you find the best spots that fit your hunger and wallet.
So it ranges for cost in Japan (Tokyo) when you are ready to eat. You can be budget friendly or break the bank, all depending on what and where you go, so do your homework and make a plan. You can save some money on some meals and then go all out on others, its all up to you! Just don’t think that every restaurant in Japan is going to break your credit card. You can eat well and not have to take out a second mortgage to make it happen.