I was in Japan a few months ago, and usually when I tell other people they immediately comment on how expensive Tokyo can be and how they went their wallet in about three days. Well, I am here to tell you that this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case—especially in regards to the food. You can find some amazing dining options in Tokyo without spending more than you feel comfortable with. Just because you are a budget traveler doesn’t mean you have to skip out! Here are some things I found helpful when in Japan and trying to stay on budget.
Look for restaurants off the main streets.
This can apply pretty much anywhere you travel to, but especially in Tokyo, you want to see if you can find a location or two in a place you wouldn’t expect. Some of my favorite restaurants that I ate at in Tokyo were in the basements underneath stores. You have to do a bit more looking, but it’s worth it in order to find a traditional meal that you’ll remember.
Know which areas are expensive.
As with most cities, different areas have different price ranges, and Tokyo is no exception. I was staying in the Shin-Juku area and was surprised to find that down the block you would end up paying 2000 or 3000 yen for a meal while if you walked down the street a bit you could find a giant meal with dumplings and sushi for 1000 or 1500.
Avoid spots where the menu is in English.
The locals know that if you speak English, you’re probably a tourist. So choosing a spot with the menu solely in Japanese can ensure that you are at a location where the locals go. Don’t worry—most of the wait staff usually can speak English if you are worried about communicating. And if not, that’s part of the fun. You might not know what you are getting, but that is one of the best parts of travel—experiencing something new.
Head to the grocery store.
You know you’re in the place with the best sushi when you can go to the store and pick up some amazing options. My friend and I picked up sushi from the grocery store several nights because not only was it easy and cheap, but it was also delicious. Just because you are low on funds doesn’t mean you need to miss out on some of the amazing food Japan has.
Have you been to Tokyo? Have any tips for budget-minded travelers?