Tips on Where to Eat on a Tight Budget in Japan!

  • FOOD
  • For some travellers, traveling in Japan is quite expensive even when it’s not peak season. Transportation, accommodation and food expenses will be the main concerns everyone has to consider.

    How to have an unforgettable trip but also having something spare for any subsequent trips? For instance, visiting various attractions, doing lots of shopping and at the same time treating yourself to delicious meals? If you’re not the kind of person, just saying, when staying in Kobe, that has to eat Kobe beef every day, then this article is for you!

    Below are six ways to help you so that you don’t spend too much money on food.

    Convenience stores (Konbini)

    With all the advantages like being open 24/7, located near stations, hotels, major and common areas, the konbini provides various types of meals: onigiri, pasta, bento etc. with a wide range of prices (¥108~¥500). I’m sure a Japanese konbini will definitely satisfy your appetite!

    Although, you should be aware that some meal combos are more expensive than those in a supermarket (because there is no discount after 6 pm etc.) and the type of meal may not be the same every day.


    Have both eat-in and take-away style, you can try Japanese traditional flavors from daily gyudon to seasonal unagi-don and curry, with an acceptable price range (around ¥380) compared to the amount of food. Also, it’s easy to find the stores and some Yoshinoya restaurants may have a late closing-time. However, Yoshinoya is not very suitable for people who want to meet up and spend a long time chit-chatting.

    Supermarket (Suupaa)

    The most powerful place in common and residential areas, that provides a wide range of choices from ingredients to packaged meals, not to mention the discounts available after 6 and 7 pm (2% ~ 50%), and some products are cheaper than in a conbini.
    Despite most supermarkets closing at 10 pm, being charged ¥5 each for nylon bags and sometimes the packaged meals are not overly tasty, discounts up to 50% still sound attractive right?!

    Fastfood restaurants

    McDonalds, KFC, Mos Burgers and many other brands to choose from depending on your taste. They all have cheap set menus and at McDonalds, they have a special discount for a set menu during lunch time (from 10.30 am to 2 pm) and some stores are open 24/7. Popular brands like KFC, Lotteria and McDonalds have stores inside stations and other common areas.

    However, not all of them are open 24/7 and being fast food, you may find them not very healthy in the long term.

    Family-type restaurants

    These restaurants provide a course menu for more than two people. A course menu means that the more people that dine, the more food there will be and the cheaper the price. In my experience, these places have a good atmostphere for gatherings, chit-chats, moreover some restaurants even offer nomihoudai (drink anything you want on the menu for a period of time, i.e. two hours for only around ¥1,500), which is a good way to experience the nomikai tradition in Japan.

    Compared to the above titles, this is a bit more expensive. If you want to come to this kind of restaurant during peak hours or with more than 10 people, a reservation call beforehand may be needed.

    Replacement of Alcohol

    Instead of paying for expensive wines or cocktails in bars and pubs, you can experience another typical Japanese way of drinking with these replacements. They’re easy to find in any supermarket or conbini: shochu (made from rice, wheat or sugar cane), chuhai (based cocktails with various flavors).

    There are plenty more restaurant chains (family restaurants alike) that serve meals with acceptable prices, to fill your stomach but that are not expensive: Joyfull, Naruto Udon, Gusto or even the foodcourts inside major stations will certainly help you save or stick to your budget!

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