Half a million yen...

...is what I spent on my trip to Japan in June/July 2007 – 500,058 yen, to be precise. At current exchange rates (121.941 yen to the dollar), that's just a hair over $4,100 US. This includes all transportation and lodging, as well as everything I spent money on in Japan. It does not include the costs of obtaining a passport, buying luggage, etc. I kept very close track of all the money I spent in a small journal, and saved most of my receipts, so it was easy to piece things together.

I've split expenses up into categories, but I won't post all the specific things I bought. A guy's got to have some privacy. ^_^


Category Yen spent Comments
Plane tickets 241,692 $1,981.08 to buy round-trip tickets online from my local airport to Boston to Chicago to Narita. In hindsight, I could have saved some money here, but I wanted to fly on Japan Air Lines and didn't want to drive to the nearest large airport.
Train tickets 65,690 I bought a two-week Japan Rail Pass for 45,100 yen, but only used it to go to Sapporo and back, and I still had to pay sleeper car fees each way. It would have been slightly cheaper to just buy the individual tickets instead. I also took the Keisei Skyliner from Narita to Ueno and back, but that wasn't covered by the rail pass because it's a different train line. Very foolish decisions on my part, and lessons learned.
Hotels 80,050 I spent five nights at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn with tatami mats and a futon) in Iriya, near Ueno, and requested a traditional Japanese dinner and breakfast there (which was added to the bill). I then spent one night at a business hotel in Sapporo. Finally, I spent five more nights at another ryokan in the Shibuya area. None of the places were exceptionally nice, but they were all definitely acceptable.
Bus tickets 2,310 While in Shibuya, I had a choice between a 15-minute walk from my ryokan to the subway station or a bus ride for 210 yen. I did so much other walking during my trip that I chose the bus every time. I took 11 bus trips... and got three rides back to my hotel from my friend Tateki.
Subway tickets 6,480 The Tokyo Metro subway system was disappointingly easy to navigate; most signs were in English as well as Japanese, and I had an English map in my shirt pocket for the rare instances where there was no English sign. I did accidentally buy one 160-yen ticket from a JR machine when I wanted to ride the Metro, but that was my own ignorance at work.
Restaurants 6,440 I had intended to eat one or two meals a day at restaurants, but I ended up falling in love with convenience-store food and barely ate in any restaurants. Plus I received two very nice meals when I was with Tateki that I didn't get to pay for. So this number covers a lunch of gyoza and ramen with Tateki in Yokohama Chinatown, three meals at MOS Burger in Sapporo and some vendor food at Senso-ji temple.
Convenience store food and beverages 11,331 As I said, I fell in love with convenience-store food. It's cheap compared to its US counterpart, but it's also exquisitely prepared and very delicious. I had a spaghetti salad topped with mentaiko (salted pollack or cod roe spiced with red pepper) that was divine. And I drank about 20 liters of Pocari Sweat. Family Mart, 7-Eleven, AMPM and Sunkus all got my business, as well as a shop with the delightful name of Consumerism Convenience Store.
Vending machine beverages 7,000 I averaged 500 yen a day in drinks bought from some of Japan's six million vending machines. I had a hard time staying hydrated due to walking so much and being out in 80+-degree heat. I drank delightful concoctions with names like Amino Supli, Calpis Fruity Café, Vitamin Guard, Kirin Nuda and Black Boss... plus the legendary, miraculous cocoa in a can. This doesn't even count the beverages I bought at convenience stores.
Vending machine food 550 I only bought food twice from vending machines. In the hotel in Sapporo, I paid 250 yen for two tiny bags of macadamia nuts. And at a huge rest area just off a major highway where Tateki took his dog for a walk and a wee, I found a vending machine that heated frozen taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries with sweet red-bean filling) and just HAD to have some, even though I'd just eaten a huge meal. I was not disappointed.
Hygiene 5,059 I didn't want to go through the hassle of bringing liquids or gels through airport security, so I just packed a toothbrush and decided I'd get all the other necessities in Japan. If only it was so easy. The only deodorant I could find turned out to be women's deodorant, as learned several days later from a TV commercial. I fought sunburn with mentholatum gel and a sunblock that cost 1,575 yen for 30 mL (1 ounce). I bought what I hoped was toothpaste (it was) and a few other items.
Admission 1,600 Senso-ji temple was free, but I made an offering of 100 yen and paid another 100 yen for an omikuji (written fortune). Admission to the Ueno Zoo was only 600 yen, and two trips to the botanical gardens in Sapporo set me back only 400 yen each.
Gifts 7,767 Along the way, I bought various gifts for my parents and one of my DeviantArt friends. I bought postcards and mailed them to friends and family, and I feel bad that I forgot so many people! And I gave Tateki a 1,000-yen note to help cover parking costs during a trip; he was so gracious and generous that I barely got the chance to pay for anything.
Shipping 12,000 Tateki also helped me ship a big box of things I'd bought back home. I had figured I'd spend $100 on shipping, and while I ended up sending less than I'd thought, it was still heavy enough that it had to be sent via EMS... so I broke even.
Console games 14,364 I bought seven video games for the DS Lite and Japanese PS2 from shops in Akihabara and Ginza, but since most of them were used or discount titles, they ended up costing less than $20 apiece. I couldn't find a few titles I was looking for, and I completely forgot to buy Itadaki Street DS even though every shop had a huge display of the game.
Trading cards 12,780 One of my favorite things to collect is trading cards related to the game Tokimeki Memorial, but they're hard to find in the US, even in online auctions. I looked all over Akihabara and couldn't find a single card in any of the shops I went to. But later, when I went to Nakano with Tateki and some of his friends, they helped me find all sorts of TokiMemo cards. Later, I actually did find some TokiMemo telephone cards in a consignment shop in Akihabara, and I bought a couple of cheap packs of other types of cards, too.
Figures 7,450 Another thing I've been collecting recently is small figures of characters from various anime and games that I like. They often come from gashapon machines, which are fancy versions of the toy capsule machines seen in US department store lobbies. It's a very expensive hobby, especially when buying them from online auctions. Miraculously, I found two sets of a dozen figures each from the game Sentimental Graffiti, in their original boxes, for 1,575 yen each. I also picked up 15 more figures, plus a plastic beetle and three miniature food items. I showed amazing restraint. (Translation: I wish I'd bought more!)
Books 2,730 I could have bought more books... but books are heavy, and I can easily order Japanese books online. So I only bought two books: volume 6 of the manga Yotsubato!, and a book/CD combo designed to teach Japanese speakers how to swear in English, which is even more bizarre than it sounds.
Toys 5,401 I spent well over an hour in Ginza's Hanuhinkan Toy Park, the largest toy store in Japan. It's eight stories tall, and the bottom four are filled with every kind of game, toy and novelty you can imagine. I bought a bunch of little puzzle toys, including a jigsaw puzzle disguised as a chocolate bar and a calendar where you arrange nine cubes to indicate the date and day of the week. I also bought some utterly useless, flashy trinkets, like tiny miniature models of Pocari Sweat bottles.
Pachinko 3,000 I lost 3,000 yen in pachinko in half an hour. The entire time, I hit one minor award, which dispensed only five balls into my bucket. That's OK, because Tateki seemed to know what he was doing, and he lost 3,000 yen, too.
Video games 350 I really wanted to visit some game centers (arcades) when I planned my trip. But every time I'd find one, I'd see a bunch of UFO catchers (crane games) inside the door and keep walking, totally neglecting the fact that the cool games are all hidden away on different floors. I played a game of Puyo Puyo 2 on a machine in horrible condition in a tiny game center in Sapporo, and I played five games of the fighting game Melty Blood: Act Cadenza in a game center in Nakano. I probably would have been a bit disappointed even if I'd gone into other game centers, as I'm a fan of older games (pre-2000), and apparently older games aren't as common in Japanese arcades.
Miscellaneous 6,014 Just a bunch of stuff barely worth listing: a tacky baseball cap (the tackiest I could find), coin lockers, coin Internet access, laundry, batteries and so on.
TOTAL 500,058  

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