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Be sure to take cash to save on ATM fees | © Dick Thomas Johnson / Flickr
Be sure to take cash to save on ATM fees | © Dick Thomas Johnson / Flickr
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9 Genius Ways to Save Money in Tokyo

Picture of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer
Updated: 29 September 2017
As anyone who’s ever been there can tell you, Tokyo doesn’t have to be expensive. From discounted travel tickets to lunchtime meal deals, stretch your yen further with these genius tips for saving money in Japan’s capital.

Consider the “Tokyo Subway Ticket”

Anyone coming over on a tourist visa can pick up a discount 24-, 48- or 72-hour “Tokyo Subway Ticket” that allows unlimited rides for the time allotted. The 72-hour ticket is 1,500 yen for adults and 750 yen for children, meaning you’d only have to ride about seven times before it’s worth it. This card is only valid for the Tokyo Metro lines; therefore, it won’t cover the JR Lines or anything outside of the city, such as the shinkansen. Grab one upon arrival at the Visitor Information Center at Haneda Airport or the Keisei Bus Ticket Counter in Narita.

Empty train on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line
Empty train on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line | © STTrain/WikiCommons

PASMO

PASMO is an option for stays of a month or longer. It’s a reusable smart card accepted by Tokyo Metro, JR, public buses and even some vending machines and convenience stores—just check for the PASMO symbol on the tap machine. PASMO only gives you a discount of around two to five yen per ride and costs 500 yen, which is why we recommend it for longer stays. Pick up a PASMO at the electronic ticketing kiosks in subway stations.

PASMO and Suica symbols
PASMO and Suica symbols | © Cassiopeia sweet/WikiCommons

Try cheap eats

It’s very easy to eat cheaply in Tokyo. Keep an eye out for shokudo, those restaurants that usually display plastic models of the food and prices out front, and that are sometimes called the Japanese equivalent of fast food. Chains such as Yoshinoya are another option. At places like this, it’s possible to have a generous serving of food for around 500 yen or less.

Gyudon from discount chain restaurant Yoshinoya
Gyudon from discount chain restaurant Yoshinoya | © Hajime NAKANO/Flickr

Keep an eye out for lunch specials

But you can’t spend the whole time eating gyudon (beef bowls) and ramen. The good news is that most pricier restaurants offer inexpensive lunch sets that cater to the working population. Even kaiseki (high-end Japanese cuisine) restaurants offer specials. Popular Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant Kien in Akasaka has lunch sets starting at 1,700 yen (walk-in only and first come, first serve).

Know your internet

For browsing the internet or navigating the city, a mobile wifi device might be cheaper than renting a cell phone. CD Japan’s rates are some of the lowest. And if you have an unlocked smartphone, you can use a data-only SIM instead for half that price. If the internet is not that important to you, save your money and rely on free wifi hotspots throughout the city, though Tokyo is not known to be reliable or generous when it comes to free wifi.

A data SIM is cheaper than roaming or a rate plan
A data SIM is cheaper than roaming or a rate plan | © Pexels/Pixabay