Living cost in Japan

Living cost in Japan for Students

Living cost in Japan is an important factor to consider next to Tuition fee and accommodation fee. Living cost varies by individual, depending on your lifestyle. However, there are ways to minimise the cost of living to live comfortably in Japan.

Based on the actual experiences, the following are some tips to minimise the living costs so that you can focus on your study and enjoy Japan with less money worries.


Step 1: Identify basic needs while living in Japan.

Step 2: Identify unavoidable costs and variable costs. For example, National Health Insurance is an unavoidable cost to which everyone living in Japan must contribute. The variable costs, such as daily food expenses can vary depending on your lifestyle.

Step 3: Find good deals.

Step 4: Set a monthly budget that is not too tight so that you can stick to the plan.

Step 5: Implement your plan. Try for a month or two so that you can make changes where more savings can be made.


Example of 1-month living cost in Japan

The table below is a guide to the living cost in Japan. They are expenses you are likely to come across when you start living in Japan. Figures are an average cost per person living in a studio in Tokyo. It will give you some idea of how much you will need to live in Japan.

Currency in Japan is Japanese Yen (¥)

As from 1st October 2019, VAT in Japan has increased from 8% to 10%. The VAT is a tax added to the cost of goods & services. The figures include VAT.

National Health Insurance 1,900
Utilities (electricity, gas, water) 7,600
Mobile phone Calls and Data 2,900
Transport Commuting pass (within 15 minutes journey) 5,380
Daily Food from supermarket 15,000
Total JPN ¥ 32,780

Breakdown explained

National Health Insurance

Those staying in Japan for more than three months are required to register at the local public office. You will receive a National health insurance card upon registration. If you ever need to see a doctor or go to the hospital, you will present the card at reception. With this card, 97% of your medical costs will be covered. You will pay the remaining 3% of the costs.

If you ever need to see a doctor or go to the hospital, you will present the card at reception. With this card, 97% of your medical costs will be covered. You will pay the remaining 3% of the costs.

International students are usually Non-Taxpayers in Japan. This means that the monthly fee is kept to a minimum.  However, it depends on the region you live in and we advise it is about ¥1,900. The monthly fee can be paid by direct debit if you have a bank account in Japan. Otherwise, you can pay at the local public office or any convenient stores using pay-in slips.

The registration process can be extremely difficult for students. Especially if it is your first time in Japan, and everything is written in Japanese! No need to worry, Pathway Japan can assist you with the registration. Student Package includes everything you need for your study in Japan.


Gas, Electricity and Water costs vary by region.

  • Gas approx ¥3,200 per month.
  • Electricity approx ¥3,300 per month.
  • Water approx ¥2,200 is paid every two months.  

The utilities are included in the shared accommodation rental, but not when renting privately.

Mobile phone, Living cost in Japan

Mobile phone & Internet

Mobile phone: There are many network providers in Japan and offer various packages. 

Mobile SIM (Phone calls + 2GB Mobile data) package is approx ¥2,900 per month. No minimum contract period.

The call limit is set to about 10 minutes for this price. If your call exceeds 10 minutes, you can hang up and call again for another 10 minutes.

Mobile data only may be cheaper. However, you may need to call your school, landlord, local public office, and so on if you are studying for a longer period. Therefore, it is always good to have the option for the calls too.


Mobile WiFi: Portable WiFi is approx ¥4,000 per month. It is a small device that gives you internet access to your mobile phone, laptop or any device with WiFi.

Wifi is included in the shared accommodation rental, but not for private property.

To help you start your living in Japan, Pathway Japan can set up a SIM card for your mobile phone. Student Package includes everything you need for your study in Japan.

Livng cost in Japan, travel pass


Pasmo/Suica is a top-up travel card. You can use it on any overground trains, subways or buses. ¥200 ~ 350 within 30 minutes distance. However, it cannot be used on Shinkansen the bullet train or other long-distance super express trains.

You can also use it at the convenient stores to buy goods. 

Commuting pass is available monthly, three-monthly or six-monthly. The fare depends on the lines you use. E.g. Odakyu line from Shimokitazawa to Shinjuku (approx. 15 minutes journey) ¥5,380 per month.

Daily grocery

Living cost in Japan, Grocery

Approx ¥15,000 per month is a doable spending amount on groceries.

  • Milk 500ml ¥150
  • 4 Eggs ¥160
  • 6 slices of Bread ¥155
  • 350ml can of beer ¥210
  • Japanese Wagyu beef 8 slices ¥700
  • Pork for stir fry 250g ¥500
  • 1 Onion ¥100
  • 1 Tomato ¥170
  • A bag of crisps ¥108. No Salt & Vinegar nor Cheese & Onion unless you go to a shop that sells foreign food. How about trying Japanese crisps?
  • 2kg Rice ¥980. 2kg is about 28 bowls of rice. Yes, we Japanese eat rice 3 times a day! So if you eat rice once a day, 2kg will last you for a month.

Dining out

Dining out in Japan is very reasonable too but depending on what type of food you like. It is said that the Japanese businessmen spend an average cost of ¥500 on lunch. We call it a One-coin lunch!

  • Mc Donald or KFC set meal ¥550
  • Gyudon ¥390
  • Family restaurant set meal (main, rice, drink) ¥1,600


Japan has been the country with the biggest music industry in Asia since the Beatles came to Japan in 1966! To date, many bands from the UK, USA and all over the world have performed in Japan. There are music festivals such as Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic during Summer in Japan too.

Rock & Pop by famous bands is approx ¥8,000 ~ 10,000 per ticket. However, there are many smaller venues in Tokyo where international and Japanese artists perform. A gig in smaller venues is approx ¥5,000 ~ 8,000 per ticket.

Karaoke is still the number one entertainment in Japan. With your friends, work colleagues, family or even alone, you can rent a room for approx. ¥1,500 per person. There are snacks, drinks or light meals you can order from the room. No wonder Japanese love to spend hours singing!

Cinema is approx. ¥1,900 per ticket. Tokyo Shinjuku is the entertainment district where many cinemas are showing old and new Japanese movies as well as Hollywood movies. Kurosawa fans will have the chance to watch the digitally remastered 7 Samurai on the big screen!

Pathway Japan has loads more information. Courses, School, Accommodation, Student Visa or any other questions, you are always welcome to contact us. We will be delighted to assist you with your study in Japan.