The decision to visit Japan and experience the country for yourself is one you will not regret! You do need to be aware, however, that it can be quite an expensive trip if you fail to take advantage of the best offers available. Detailed below are some of the prices you can expect to pay for the main expenses involved, i.e. transport, accommodation, food, etc.
It is possible to find return flights from London to Tokyo for around £450-550 all year round. Prices increase by roughly £250 in summer however.
Train tickets are so expensive that it is absolutely essential to purchase a Japan Rail Pass if you plan to do much travelling around the country. The pass has to be bought before leaving and gives you unrestricted travel on Japan's rail network. The cost is ¥29,110 (£185) for 7 days, ¥46,390 (£294) for 14 days, or ¥59,350 (£377) for 3 weeks. These rates are reduced by 50% for children aged 6 to 11 years old.
In order to get one, you must have "Temporary Visitor" status, i.e. you must be visiting Japan for the purpose of tourism and remaining in the country for no more than 90 days.
Prices are dependent on the number of stations passed through. the minimum ticket price in Tokyo is ¥170 (£1.10), though a typical journey costs between ¥200 (£1.30) and ¥350 (£2.25) on average. The price of a 1-day ticket varies from city to city but tends to average between ¥700 (£4.45) and ¥1,000 (£6.40).
Contrary to what you may have heard, food is actually quite cheap in Japan. Though prices at yakiniku restaurants range from £12 to £16 per person, and sushi bars cost between £8 and £20 per head (depending on the particular establishment and the amount eaten), it is also possible to eat for between £4 and £6.50 at ramen stalls, and you can find curried rice or katsudon for as little as £2.40.
Youth hostels represent the best option for the lone traveller. A night at one of these will cost you around ¥3,500 (£22.50), whereas you would pay almost three times as much at a mid-range hotel.
There is a greater range of choices available to those travelling as a couple or in groups as in addition to the economic option already mentioned they can also opt for a double room in a hotel or an apartment rental. Whereas the first of these will cost around ¥12,000 (£75), it is possible to find the second for less than £24 per person, as long as there are at least two of you that is, or preferably three or four.
At around £3.20 for a packet of 20 on average, cigarette prices are much lower than in the UK. I do not encourage you to smoke however!