How Expensive is Japan? A Comparison of 5 Cities

By David

One month from today we’ll be in Japan! I don’t know if you’ve ever planned a family trip where everyone is spread throughout the world before, but let me tell you — it’s not easy. But we finally have the cities and dates set.

It will be a bit of a whirlwind tour as we’ll be stopping in 5 cities over the course of 15 days. Those 5 cities are: Sendai, Hirosaki, Tokyo, Nagasaki, and Kumamoto.

Heading into the planning, I was hoping we could stay around $50 USD a night for accommodation. That proved to be slightly too optimistic, but I think we still did a good job staying pretty close to that mark. If Alexis and I were traveling alone, we would probably stay in places slighter cheaper, but since it was a family trip, nicer accommodations were necessary.

I know accommodation prices aren’t the only factors that go into a city’s economy, but I would image that they’re a pretty good indicator. So based on accommodation prices alone, here’s how I would rank the expensiveness, from cheapest to most expensive, of the 5 cities we’ll be in:

1. Kumamoto: $47 USD/night
2. Hirosaki: $53 USD/night
3. Nagasaki: $66 USD/night
4. Sendai: $67 USD/night
5. Tokyo: $77 USD/night

Three things to point out:

1. Besides Tokyo, we’re staying in hotels in all of these cities. We have an Airbnb house in Tokyo because it was the only way we could stay in the city center for under $100 USD/night. Tokyo was by far the most expensive city.

2. All the hotels are of relatively equal quality.

3. All the accommodations are in the city center. If we had moved outside the city center, prices would be cheaper.

Also, I don’t know if this means anything, but the two cheapest cities, Kumamoto and Hirosaki, are the southern and northern ends of our trip. I’m imagining a price map of Japan that shows a bright red circle over Tokyo right in the middle of the country with radiating circles moving away from the center with slightly tamer shades of red to indicate a drop in cost of living. But maybe that’s a total reach.

To book the hotels, I used Agoda.com, the cheapest site for hotels in Asia.

We have a few ideas of what we want to do in these cities, but if you have any suggestions, please let us know!

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