Getting Around Japan
Tokyo has an extensive subway system with the color of the subway cars matching every exact line. Osaka, Yokohama, Fukuoka, and Kyoto also have subway systems. Metro one-way ticket costs between 1.5-3 USD (130-260 JPY) depending on the city. If you are planning to travel a lot by train, then JR Rail Pass is something that allows you to save money drastically. Get your JR Rail Pass before you hit the road since it is not applicable to subway system! While getting a ticket from a vending machine I felt somehow overwhelmed sometimes. Despite the fact that the final price is shown in Arabic numerals, I wasn’t always sure about my final destination, so I just chose the cheapest ticket and paid the excess at the end.
Buses are omnipresent in Japan. Expect to pay flat rate almost every time you ride a city bus. On the other hand, intercity buses have their rates based on the distance. When you enter the bus you get a paper ticket marked with a zone number. When you get off the bus you just show the ticket to a driver or put your ticket into the fare box. Non-Japanese speaking travelers may find using buses a bit confusing outside major cities. Since stops are often announced only in Japanese, it would be wise to know your destination in advance.
Accommodation in Japan
Finding a budget accommodation is a priority while in Japan. With everything rather expensive around here, several dollars saved on accommodation (well, saved on everything generally speaking) allows you to travel a bit further. Booking your accommodation in advance may be a wise idea because budget options are selling like hotcakes. Hostels are among the cheapest options in Japan. You can find hostels for around 2000-2200 JPY (19-21 USD) per night at the low end. Take advantage of staying in hostels to gain free Wi-Fi and self-catering facilities to cook your own food.
Budget hotels are great for spending a few nights before you find the more attractive option or hit the road for another location. I have found some great deals on agoda.com and booking.com that include standard amenities like towels, soap, and shampoo. They always have a private bathroom and also offer TV and a fridge. Expect to pay around 6000-8000 JPY (54-72 USD) for privacy. Capsule hotels offer small sleeping spaces that may look like a coffin for around 3000-5000 JPY (30-45 USD).
To feel the spirit of Japan consider staying at a ryokan. While expensive these traditional inns (B&B) can be found throughout Japan and usually set in Edo-period buildings. A harmonious combination of wood, glass, bamboo, paper screens, and tatami mats offers unique and memorable experience.
Food In Japan
You really can eat out on the cheap in Japan. Thanks to delicious and cheap noodle restaurants you can stay full longer. If you want to get some noodles and miso soup, stick to a budget and mid-range restaurants near train stations, in shopping malls and department stores. Many cheap places have traditional fabric curtains in the doorways, with the name of the eatery written on them in Japanese. Expect to spend around 5-9 USD per meal while eating there.
Food is the common motivator for residents to travel within Japan. You may notice that almost every town or city here has its own local specialities that make Japanese want to try it. Lunch deals are your best bet if you want to save extra money on food. A bunch of restaurants offer lunch deals at reduced prices. Fast food is generally more expensive than local food, expect to pay around 800 JPY (7 USD) for a combo meal. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also rather expensive, avoid them if you want to save.