10 Cheap Ways to Visit Japan

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Japan is timeless, a place where the modern fuses with the ancient seamlessly. Add in excellent cuisine, exquisite nature, and welcoming people, and it’s easy to see why Japan attracts more than 25 million foreign tourists annually. 

From visiting historic temples and relaxing at teahouses to eating soba noodles and riding bullet trains, Japan offers an incredible variety of amazing things to do. You can even enjoy hot pot while watching a sumo show. 

If you want to have a transformative, unforgettable vacation, Japan — without a doubt — can provide that experience. 

Now, we know you may be worried about the cost of visiting Japan. That’s why we’ve put together this article — because potential expenses should not hold you back. With a little flexibility, resourcefulness, and open-mindedness, you can actually visit Japan for cheap. Although flights, hotels, meals and activities in Japan add up, cost-saving travel strategies exist. 

You may not have considered it, but a savvy way to visit Japan on a shoestring budget is to teach English. This allows you to earn a salary and live and work in a city like Tokyo, Osaka, or Sapporo. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is the perfect opportunity to get paid to travel abroad in Japan. Organizations such as International TEFL Academy (ITA) can help you land a job there. ITA offers the gold standard in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad and teaching English online. ITA can certify you to teach English and help you get a teaching position at a school in Japan. Salary and benefits are quite solid. You’ll typically earn $2,000 – $3,000+ per month, with perks such as free accommodation.

Another one of the cheapest ways to visit Japan is to intern abroad there. For example, Intern Abroad, the world’s top-rated global internship provider, offers internship opportunities in Japan in Youth Education and Business. These intern programs provide great experience to jumpstart your career and don’t have high price tags and. Fees typically include accommodation and meals, among other things. This helps eliminate major vacation expenses. 

As you can see, there are cheap ways to visit Japan. Below, we cover the top 10 cheap ways to visit Japan. Use one, two or more of them, and you’ll be able to enjoy the vacation of a lifetime — without breaking the bank. 

1. Search for Cheap Flights to Japan

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There are low-priced flights to Japan out there. Here’s a strategy to snag one of those flights:

  • Consider going during months when flights are cheapest. According to data from CheapFlights.com, the cheapest time to fly to Japan is from September through February. Flying during spring or summer can cost you $500+ more.  
  • Start looking at least 6-8 weeks in advance. For most regions, flights to Japan are cheapest when well in advance. Frommer’s research shows international plane tickets are generally most affordable when booked 6 weeks in advance. 
  • Fly with low-cost airlines. For example, low-cost carriers like AirAsia feature routes throughout Asia, including to and from Japan. Prices are usually below market averages.
  • Search for flights on student travel sites, such as StudentUniverse. If you’re a student, these specialty sites will tailor deals and discounts for you.

2. Be Flexible with Travel Dates to Japan

When flying on a Tuesday is $500 cheaper than flying on a Saturday, it’s probably worth it to restructure your schedule to fly on a Tuesday. If you’re flexible with dates, you can save tons of money on flights, hotels, and more. 

For example, this is a calendar showing round-trip flight prices from New York City to Tokyo for summer 2024:

By waiting to go to Japan until late August, and flying on a Monday and Wednesday instead of Thursday and Saturday, you can save $527 on your flight!

3. Get a Business Internship in Japan

Interning in Japan is a great way to not only boost your resume, learn Japanese, and acquire new skills, but also to immerse yourself in local culture. It’s also one of the great cheap ways to visit Japan as the fee you pay often includes meals and accommodation. 

For business internships in Japan, Intern Abroad is a top choice. The organization hosts 280+ enriching internships across 24 countries, including Japan. To date, they’ve helped thousands of young professionals gain important international career experience. 

Currently, Intern Abroad has a top-rated Business and Media Internship in Japan. For the program, you’ll work in Tokyo, where you’ll contribute to cross-cultural exchange within the workplace and learn the ins and outs of your company and sector. You’ll work in an exciting field such as e-commerce, digital advertising, and tourism. 

The program includes accommodation in a home with other interns and language students. This allows you to meet like-minded individuals and expand your personal network too! You can apply here

4. Go to Japan During Non-Peak Season

According to Condé Nast Traveler, the cheapest time to visit Japan is mid-January through February. If you can stand a little cold, you can save a lot of money on your vacation during this time. 

In general, peak season in Japan is March-May and September-November. Spring is cherry blossom season and autumn is quite pleasant. WIth that said, travel prices do NOT get too high during September, October, and November (especially in comparison to spring). Summer is often the most expensive, but it’s note the best time climate wise to go.

So, it may make sense to visit Japan in the autumn if you want a good experience and reasonable travel prices. If you want to save the most money, go after the winter holidays.

5. Teach English in Japan

Are you looking for a longer adventure but worried about money?

Worry no more. You can teach English and make money while living in Japan. This will enable you to extend your stay as long as you wish. According to International TEFL Academy (ITA), foreign English teachers can usually make $2,600+ per month in the first year of the contract, with annual raises for resigning. Many jobs offer free housing too (or at least a housing subsidy). 

To get started teaching in Japan, get certified with a reputable organization such as International TEFL Academy. ITA helps aspiring ESL teachers obtain TEFL certification at a low cost online. There are in-person TEFL certification classes as well as online.  

After you get TEFL certified, ITA will even offer job placement for Japan. Within a short time, they can help you get a job offer in the city of your choosing, whether that be Kyoto or Kobe. 

International TEFL Academy truly helps set you up for success teaching English. Founded in 2010, the organization offers the gold standard in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad. Each year, ITA certifies more than 5,000 people to teach English abroad — a testament to their scale and quality.

Another option is to apply directly to the JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program). This government-run work program places foreign teachers in schools, government agencies, education departments and other institutions to teach, learn, and network. It’s incredibly selective, but does provide a range of long-term benefits. You can research eligibility requirements here: https://jetprogramusa.org/eligibility-criteria/

6. Save on Lodging in Japan

Outside of transportation to Japan, your next biggest expense may be lodging. This is where you can save a lot of money. According to a popular travel guide, hotel costs in Japan can vary significantly:

  • A guesthouse or hostel in Japan can be under $25 per night. 
  • The famous capsule hotels are around $30-$35 per night. 
  • A budget hotel may cost between $40-$100 per night.
  • A mid-range hotel costs between $80-$100+ per night. 
  • A luxury hotel or accommodation can cost between $150-$500+ per night.

If you go with budget or mid-range lodging in Japan, instead of a 4- or 5-star lodging, you can save hundreds of dollars on your trip. They may not have all the amenities you’d like, but they’re usually comfortable enough for a good night’s rest. 

Simply put, if you’re searching for savvy cheap ways to visit Japan, then plan to save on accommodation. 

7. Get an Education Internship in Japan

As we mentioned earlier in the article, interning in Japan is a great way to improve your resume and skills as well as immerse yourself in the country. Since internship fees include lodging, they’re a great cheap way to visit Japan

For education internships in Japan, Intern Abroad is also a top choice. The organization’s Youth Education Internship in Japan is highly rated by past participants. For this internship, you’ll assist at after-school centers in Tokyo and help improve the future prospects of local youth. Duties include teaching English, doing arts and crafts, playing games, and more. 

If you want to be a teacher or work in education, this internship is a wonderful option. You can apply here.

8. Use Miles or Points to Travel to Japan

You arrived at this article because you’re searching for cheap ways to visit Japan. So, chances are you’re open to various cost-saving tricks. 

Enter miles and points.

On sites like NerdWallet and Upgraded Points, you can learn how to get to Japan for free or low cost by leveraging lucrative credit card sign up bonuses, as well as other miles-earning hacks (doing surveys, shopping online, etc). 

For example, many major airlines, like Delta and United Airlines, have branded credit cards that offer bonuses to new customers after a certain amount is spent on the card. Usually, this sign up bonus gives you enough points to book an international plane ticket for free (or at a very reduced price). 

It’s not unheard of to obtain more than $1,000 in travel savings from these cards. With the right strategy and discipline (and good credit), you can get a credit card with a large signup bonus, meet the spending threshold, and then obtain tens of thousands of points. You can then use those points to get free airfare or lodging (or at least save a lot of money on both those things). 

9. Budget Wisely on the Ground in Japan

Going to Japan can be the vacation of a lifetime. You may get that ‘YOLO’ feeling while you’re there. That’s great! But it can cause spending to get out of hand. 

To avoid overspending, head to Japan with a budget and a plan. You’ll still enjoy a great vacation, while saving hundreds of dollars.

Follow these tips while there to save money:

  • Eat like a local: Avoid the Westernized restaurants that charge $15 for avocado toast. Instead, head to the local eateries and enjoy traditional Japanese food. For instance, quality ramen in Tokyo can be had for under $8. 
  • Take public transportation: You don’t need to hire a driver. You don’t even need to pay for taxis.  From the inter-city bullet trains to the Tokyo metro, Japan’s public transportation is world class. It’s convenient, fast, and cheap. Use it. 
  • Enjoy the free things: Japan has an incredible variety of things to do, some more expensive than others. Take advantage of free things, such as exploring the streets of the Harajuku neighborhood, taking in the organized chaos of Shibuya Crossing, and touring the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. 

10. Find a Package Deal to Japan

Perhaps you bundle to save on insurance or internet and cable. Employ this same cost-saving tactic for your trip to Japan. By bundling your travel, or buying your flight, hotel and insurance together, you can save hundreds of dollars on your travel (if not more). 

There are many ways you can find package deals in Japan. When you book on a site such as Priceline or Expedia, you’ll have options to bundle your flight, hotel, car rental, insurance and more. Just look in advance, and you’ll find a good price.

For instance, Expedia states it has package deals for Japan as low as $1,804 for weeklong stay in 2024. The package includes the flight and lodging. 

It’s Time to Put the 10 Cheap Ways to Visit Japan into Action

While you can’t use all of these tips at once, you can use a mix of them to save thousands of dollars on your trip. For instance, you could use miles for your flight, while interning in Tokyo to gain experience and save on food and accommodation. That would keep your vacation costs incredibly low.

Do you have any other cheap ways to visit Japan? Feel free to share on Facebook, X, or LinkedIn and add in your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you. 

Now, all that’s left to do is put these cheap ways to visit Japan to work — and go have the best vacation ever. 

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