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Japan – Cost of Living

Japan is known for its unique culture, technology, and cuisine, making it a popular destination for tourists and expats alike. In this article, we will explore the cost of living in Japan, including currency, comparisons to the UK and USA, breakdown of costs, and common forms of payment.

Local Currency in Japan

The local currency in Japan is the Japanese yen (JPY). One yen is divided into 100 sen, although the sen is not commonly used anymore. Coins are available in denominations of 1 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, 50 yen, 100 yen, and 500 yen, while banknotes are available in denominations of 1000 yen, 2000 yen, 5000 yen, and 10,000 yen.

Cost of Living in Japan Compared to the UK and USA

The cost of living in Japan can vary depending on the location, but on average, it is generally considered to be higher than that of the UK and the USA. According to Numbeo, a website that compares the cost of living in different countries, the cost of living index in Japan is 81.29, while the UK is 69.08, and the USA is 76.86. This means that on average, it is more expensive to live in Japan than in the UK or USA.

Breakdown of Costs in Japan

The cost of living in Japan can vary depending on the location and size of the household. Here is a breakdown of some of the typical costs for singles, couples, and families of four in Japan:


Housing costs in Japan can be relatively expensive, especially in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost around 100,000-150,000 JPY per month. Outside of major cities, the cost of housing can be lower but still relatively high compared to other countries.

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Japanese cuisine is known for its fresh and high-quality ingredients, and eating out in Japan can be relatively affordable. A meal at a local restaurant can cost around 800-1500 JPY per person, while grocery shopping can also be affordable, with a loaf of bread costing around 100-200 JPY and a liter of milk costing around 150-200 JPY.


The cost of utilities in Japan varies depending on the size of the household and the location. On average, electricity, water, and gas bills for a family of four can add up to around 20,000-30,000 JPY per month. Internet and mobile phone plans are also relatively affordable, with a typical plan costing around 5000-7000 JPY per month.


Japan offers a variety of leisure activities, from exploring historical sites to experiencing modern technology. Many activities in Japan can be relatively affordable, such as visiting a local temple or enjoying a day at a public park. Paid activities such as visiting a theme park or attending a concert can cost between 3000-8000 JPY per person.


Public transportation in Japan is known for its efficiency and affordability, with a one-way ticket on a train or subway costing around 150-300 JPY. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also available but can be relatively expensive, with a typical 10-kilometer ride costing around 2000-3000 JPY. Owning a car in Japan can be expensive due to high taxes and gasoline prices.


The cost of clothing in Japan varies depending on the brand and quality. Affordable clothing options can be found at local stores, with t-shirts costing around 1000-2000 JPY and jeans costing around 3000-5000 JPY. High-end designer clothing can be more expensive, with a designer dress costing around 30,000-50,000 JPY or more.

Household Goods

Household goods such as furniture, appliances, and electronics can be relatively expensive in Japan, especially if purchased new. Second-hand options are available and can often be more affordable, with items such as a used refrigerator costing around 30,000-50,000 JPY and a used television costing around 10,000-20,000 JPY.

Common Forms of Payment in Japan

Cash is still widely used in Japan, but electronic payment methods such as credit and debit cards are becoming increasingly popular. Many businesses, especially larger chains and tourist destinations, accept credit cards. ATMs are widely available in Japan, but it is important to note that not all ATMs accept international debit and credit cards. It is also common to use electronic payment methods such as Suica and Pasmo cards for public transportation and some vending machines.

In conclusion, the cost of living in Japan can be relatively high compared to other countries, but it also offers a high standard of living, quality food and leisure options, and efficient public transportation. Housing and transportation costs can vary depending on location, while food and leisure options can be relatively affordable. Cash is still widely used, but electronic payment methods are becoming increasingly popular. Overall, Japan offers a unique and exciting lifestyle for those willing to invest in the cost of living.

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