views of many buildings and a river walkway in Fukuoka, Japan / cheapest cities in Japan to visit or live

11 Cheapest Cities in Japan to Visit or Live

Are you looking for the cheapest cities in Japan to visit? You’ve come to the right place!

Japan is a fascinating country known for its rich history, unique culture, and stunning natural landscapes.

While it may be perceived as an expensive travel destination, there are actually several budget-friendly cities in Japan where visitors can enjoy themselves.

In this article, I’ll be covering both the cheapest cities in Japan to visit, including average daily costs for travelers and monthly costs for those considering relocating to any of the cities mentioned.

For daily visiting and monthly living costs, figures consider accommodations, food, and transportation. Note all numbers are in US currency.

When many think of Japan, they automatically think of Tokyo and only think of visiting Tokyo. With how famous and unique of a city Tokyo is, it makes sense for travelers to think of Tokyo when thinking of Japan instantly.

It’s similar to many who instantly think of New York City when thinking of destinations in the US or those who think of Istanbul when thinking of Turkiye!

many cherry blossoms at a popular tourist attraction in Osaka, Japan

Cheapest Cities in Japan to Visit

Tokyo is amazing, futuristic, and a place unlike many others in the world, but there are many other captivating cities in Japan to explore that should be considered. Also, Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities to visit!

Whether you are a budget-conscious traveler or simply looking to maximize your money during your trip to Japan, these cities offer the perfect blend of affordability and unforgettable experiences.

Fukuoka

vibrant colour sunset setting in amongst the river in Fukuoka, Japan

Fukuoka is a vibrant city located on the southern island of Kyushu, Japan. Known for its warm climate, beaches, modern shopping malls, ancient temples, rich history, and lively atmosphere, Fukuoka offers a unique blend of modern and traditional attractions.

Sitting at a population of over 1.6 million people, Fukuoka is the largest city on the island of Kyushu and has plenty to offer visitors. The city is well connected, with an international airport and excellent transportation networks, making it easily accessible for travelers.

Fukuoka boasts a wide range of attractions, from historic landmarks to contemporary modern shopping districts. The most famous attraction in the city is the Fukuoka Castle Ruins, which provides a glimpse into the city’s feudal past.

Foodies will love visiting Fukuoka; the culinary scene here is exceptional. The city is renowned for its rich and flavorful tonkotsu ramen. As you walk around the city, you’ll find countless restaurants and food stalls offering it. Besides the city’s famous ramen, you’ll find gyoza, grilled meat skewers, the freshest seafood, and much more!

The Nakasu district is a bustling area in the city known for its many restaurants, shopping, vibrant nightlife, and entertainment options. Within the district is the Naka River, offering a unique feature to the area.

Additionally, Fukuoka hosts various festivals throughout the year, showcasing traditional performances and cultural events. Visiting during one of the many festivals offers an extra way for you to experience the local culture!

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $140 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $1,170 US

Sendai

amazing mountainous views from the famous Yamadera Temple in Sendai, Japan

Sendai is Located in Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region, a vibrant and modern city that seamlessly blends innovation and tradition. Known as the “City of Trees,”

Sendai is famous for its picturesque scenery and abundance of green spaces within the city.

It is famous for being a cultural hub, offering visitors numerous museums, art galleries, and traditional festivals to experience. The city has a thriving culinary scene; Sendai is renowned for its delicious seafood, particularly its fresh and succulent gyutan (grilled beef tongue).

Visitors can also venture out and explore the nearby Matsushima Bay, an area known for its serene islands and breathtaking views.

With its natural beauty, cultural attractions, and delectable cuisine, Sendai offers a captivating experience for all types of travelers.

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $144 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $1,170 US

Hiroshima

coastline views of Hiroshima city in Japan

In western Japan, Hiroshima is a city with immense historical significance. Today, it serves as a symbol of peace and resilience.

The city is forever etched in history as the first city to suffer the devastation of an atomic bomb during World War II. Hiroshima has since risen from the ashes and transformed into a vibrant, forward-thinking metropolis.

Hiroshima’s most known attractions are the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, serving as reminders of the devastating event that occurred in 1945.

These sites honor the victims and advocate for nuclear disarmament and global peace. The A-Bomb Dome, a skeletal structure that survived the blast, stands as a powerful symbol of the city’s resilience.

The city is blessed with natural beauty, including the scenic Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the picturesque Miyajima Island, home to the iconic floating torii gate.

Today, Hiroshima stands as a vibrant city that embraces its past while looking towards the future; with beautiful parks and a vibrant food scene, Hiroshima’s charm extends beyond its tragic past.

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $146 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $927 US

Osaka

views of the  Tsutenkaku Tower from a notable picturesque street

Located in the Kansai region of Japan, Osaka is a bustling city famous for its vibrant atmosphere, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine.

With a population of over 2.7 million people, you’ve most likely heard of Osaka before. Osaka is Japan’s third-largest city, so there’s no shortage of things to do in Osaka!

One of the main highlights of Osaka is its food scene, so much so that the city is often referred to as the “Kitchen of Japan.” It’s most famous for its street food, including takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and Yakiniku (Japanese grilled meat).

The best way to experience street food in Osaka is to pay Dotonbori a visit. The vibrant street is a must-visit for food lovers, food stalls, countless restaurants, and a fun atmosphere.

Osaka is home to several iconic landmarks within the city. Most notable is Osaka Castle, a magnificent 16th-century fortress, which is a popular tourist destination, offering stunning views of the city from its observation deck.

The Shinsaibashi and Umeda districts in Osaka are ideal for those looking to get some shopping done. You’ll find everything from trendy shops to luxury boutiques and large department stores. Another fun attraction in Osaka is Universal Studios Japan, a theme park that offers thrilling rides and attractions based on popular movies.

Osaka’s cultural heritage is evident in its many temples and shrines. The Shitennoji Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, is a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. The Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, known for its unique architecture, is another popular spiritual site.

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $147 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $1,220 US

Nagoya

views of the vibrant lit-up streets of Nagoya, Japan

As the fourth-largest city in Japan, Nagoya has a lot to offer visitors in terms of sights, experiences, and cuisine. Nagoya is known for its rich history and is home to several iconic landmarks, and it’s located in the Chubu region of Japan.

The Sakae district is a bustling area filled with high-end shopping malls, trendy boutiques, museums, and entertainment venues. Standing tall in the city’s heart is the Nagoya TV Tower, which offers breathtaking skyline views from its observation deck.

Foodies will be in awe and delighted by Nagoya’s local cuisine. Hitsumabushi, a grilled eel dish, is a city specialty and a must-try for visitors. Nagoya is also very much famous for its miso-based dishes, such as miso katsu and miso nikomi udon, which are flavorful and unique to the region.

The most famous attraction is The Nagoya Castle, a reconstructed 17th-century fortress that symbolizes the city’s feudal past and offers visitors a chance to explore its impressive architecture and beautiful gardens. Nearby, you’ll find the Osu Kannon Temple, a historic Buddhist temple.

With the city’s excellent combination of historical sites, modern attractions, and culinary delights, Nagoya offers a diverse range of experiences for tourists!

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $149 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $1,407 US

Kanazawa

views of the famous Kanazawa castle among many cherry blossoms trees

Often referred to as “Little Kyoto,” Kanazawa offers a glimpse into Japan’s traditional arts and architecture with its well-preserved historical districts and charming manicured gardens.

One of the Kanazawa’s main attractions is Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s most famous gardens. Known for its beautiful landscapes and stunning seasonal beauty, Kenrokuen offers a harmonious atmosphere mixing the beauty of nature and man-made design.

The Nagamachi Samurai District provides a glimpse into the feudal era of Japan, with its traditional houses, narrow streets, and preserved samurai residences. Strolling through this district, you’ll think you’ve stepped back in time, and it offers insights into the samurai way of life.

Kanazawa’s culinary scene is worth mentioning, with its fresh seafood, traditional sweets, and unique local dishes like jibuni (a rich duck stew) and kaga ryori (traditional multi-course meal).

With its blend of history, culture, traditional crafts, and culinary delights, Kanazawa offers a captivating experience showcasing Japan’s best traditional and artistic heritage.

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $152 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $1,127 US

Nagasaki

panaormic views of the many lit up buildings at night in Nagasaki, Japan

Nagasaki, located on the western coast of Japan’s Kyushu island, is a city renowned for its stunning scenery, rich history, and resilient spirit. Known worldwide for the tragic events that unfolded during World War II, the city of Nagasaki has since emerged as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

Nagasaki’s history is deeply intertwined with lots of international influences, particularly due to its historical role as a major port for foreign trade. The city’s cultural heritage is evident in its unique blend of Japanese, Chinese, and Western influences.

One of Nagasaki’s most famous attractions is the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park, a war museum. These poignant sites serve as a memorial to the devastating atomic bombing that occurred in 1945 and serve as emphasizing the importance of promoting peace in the world.

Mount Inasa, a popular observation point, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and its surrounding landscape. Overall, Nagasaki offers plenty of parks scattered around the city to explore.

Nagasaki’s cuisine is also worth exploring. The city is famous for its Nagasaki Champon, a hearty noodle dish with a variety of ingredients, and Castella, a sweet sponge cake with Portuguese origins. With Nagasaki’s captivating history, natural beauty, and scenic charm, the city’s worth a visit!

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $161 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $980 US

Sapporo

notable popular street in Sapporo at night, famous for its many bright lit-up neon advertisements

Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido in northern Japan, is a modern and vibrant metropolitan city that offers a unique blend of urban attractions and natural beauty.

You’ve most likely heard of Sapporo due to the famous Japanese beer that was founded here, named after the city. Visitors can also explore the Sapporo Beer Museum, where they can learn about the history and brewing process of Sapporo beer, the world-famous beer.

The city is known for its lively atmosphere. Sapporo is famous for its annual Snow Festival, where magnificent ice sculptures attract visitors worldwide. The Sapporo Clock Tower is the city’s most famous attraction, symbolizing its rich history.

Sapporo is also home to the historic Odori Park, a spacious green oasis in the heart of the city, perfect for relaxation and picnics. Also, Sapporo is an excellent skiing destination in Japan for those who enjoy skiing.

The city is also home to various must-try foods when visiting, including the famous Sapporo ramen, Soup Curry, Kaisendon & Sushi (sushi rice bowl), and fresh seafood from nearby coastal areas.

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $165 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $1,240 US

Okayama

a old large bonsai among many other trees in a picturesque forest area in Okayama, Japan

Okayama is a charming city located in the Chugoku region of Japan. It’s known for its historical landmarks, beautiful gardens, and vibrant cultural scene. The city is home to one of Japan’s most iconic attractions, Okayama Castle, offering exceptional panoramic views of the city.

Adjacent to the castle is the stunning Korakuen Garden, considered one of Japan’s top three most beautiful gardens, boasting picturesque landscapes, traditional tea houses, and tranquil ponds.

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art, which houses an impressive modern and contemporary artwork collection.

The city is famous for its connection to the legend of Momotaro, a popular Japanese folklore hero, and visitors can explore the Momotaro Shrine and learn about the story’s significance.

Okayama is also known for its production of high-quality denim, and visitors can shop for unique denim products in the bustling shopping district of Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. You must buy a pair of jeans during your visit to Okayama!

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $167 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $1,290 US

Takayama

a charming historic street featuring decades old buildings in Takayama, Japan

Takayama, nestled in the mountainous Hida region of Japan, is a picturesque city that showcases the country’s rich cultural heritage. Takayama boasts many well-preserved traditional wooden houses, narrow streets, and historic buildings that transport visitors back in time.

The small city’s most notable attraction is the Sanmachi Suji district, a charming, preserved old town lined with several shops, sake breweries, and traditional Japanese houses. Takayama is also famous for its festivals, including the Takayama Festival, which dates back to the 1600s.

Foodies will be delighted by the many must-try foods in the city, including succulent Hida beef and traditional sake. Takayama’s warm and welcoming atmosphere, cultural richness, and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic Japanese experience.

The city is surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes, including the stunning Hida Mountains and the scenic Hida-Kanayama Lake, offering opportunities to experience many outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, visiting hot springs, and more!

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $172 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $1,390 US

Kyoto

stunning skyline at sunset in Kyoto, Japan showcasing a dense city among the mountains and temples

Kyoto is a cultural treasure trove renowned for its historical significance, traditional architecture, and serene beauty. Located in central Japan, known as the former capital of Japan for over a thousand years.

The city of Kyoto represents Japan’s history and offers visitors a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural heritage like no other city. Kyoto is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the iconic Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and Kiyomizu-dera, both known for their stunning architecture.

Another is the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, with its thousands of vibrant red torii gates. It is another must-visit destination in Kyoto that offers a unique and enchanting experience.

It is famous for its traditional Japanese gardens, such as the stunning Ryoan-ji and the meticulously landscaped Katsura Imperial Villa. These gardens provide a peaceful ambiance escape from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature.

The city is also known for its seasonal beauty, with its cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant autumn foliage attracting visitors from around the world to experience the scenery.

Kyoto’s culinary scene is equally enticing, with a wide range of traditional Japanese dishes, such as kaiseki (multi-course meal), matcha, and Kyoto-style sushi. The Nishiki Market is an iconic, vibrant market offering a bustling experience where visitors can try many local foods.

Average Daily Visitor Cost: $215 US

Average Monthly Living Cost: $1,090 US

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a abundance of cherry trees along a river with many locals kayaking in Tokyo, Japan

Is Japan Cheap to Visit?

Considering one’s costs for visiting Japan can depend on multiple factors, including what places you choose to visit, the travel season, and your travel style.

Generally speaking, Japan is not considered a cheap travel destination, especially compared to other Asian countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam.

However, that doesn’t mean you cannot visit Japan on a budget because it’s very much possible.

According to BudgetYourTrip, the average daily cost to visit Japan is around $130 US, including hotel, food, and transportation.

Keep in mind this is an average estimate across all traveler types and all destinations in Japan.

Many automatically think of visiting Tokyo when thinking of Japan; while that’s an excellent idea, it’s also one of the most expensive places in Japan to visit. So, ultimately, the places you choose to go will factor in your cost per day.

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several bright lights displayed on buildings in one of Tokyo's most famous city intersections

Cheapest Cities in Japan to Live

Now, let’s discuss the cheapest cities in Japan to live in. Keep in mind the cities mentioned above are all excellent destinations to visit, but if you’re an expat/digital nomad looking to move to Japan, you’ll want to relocate to a liveable city.

For a city to be considered liveable, it must be fairly developed, offer many grocery stores/shops, things to do, amenities, access to healthcare, and be somewhat near an airport.

Fukuoka — Fukuoka is an excellent city to live in. The city offers many modern amenities, its food scene is exceptional, and the public transportation in the city is great. Fukuoka offers a unique, diverse landscape, including mountains and beaches.

Sapporo — Those who enjoy nature will love the lifestyle in Sapporo, a city known for its natural beauty. It’s a rather safe city to live in, and you can find rental deals on apartments here.

Osaka — Known as the third most populated city in Japan. Osaka offers a wide variety of amenities, many restaurants, gyms, etc. With, on average, lower rent prices than some of Japan and great public transportation, Osaka is a great choice.

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a beach shoreline on a clear sky day in Fukuoka, Japan

Is Japan Cheap to Live in?

The cost of living in Japan first depends on your lifestyle, location, and overall spending habits.

Overall, Japan has claimed a relatively high cost of living compared to many other countries. If budgeting is your first factor regarding where to live, Japan shouldn’t be considered.

A main aspect that can make living in Japan more affordable is the public healthcare in Japan, which is known for its quality and accessibility, and the cost of healthcare is typically lower compared to some other developed countries.

Besides that, rent prices are quite high in many of Japan’s most liveable cities, and food expenses, like groceries and eating out, are considerably higher than in other countries.

the Osaka skyline at night from the Harukas 300 tower

Which city in Japan is cheapest?

Fukuoka is the cheapest city in Japan, with the average daily cost is $140 US.

Can I visit Japan on a budget?

It’s possible to visit Japan on a budget. The average daily cost in Japan is $130 US a day.

But if you choose to visit expensive cities like Tokyo and others, visiting them will quickly make your trip costly.

Is Nagoya cheaper than Tokyo?

Nagoya is approximately 12% cheaper in terms of living costs than Tokyo.

Is Fukuoka cheaper than Tokyo?

The average daily cost to visit Fukuoka is around $140 US a day, whereas for Tokyo, it’s around $171 US a day.

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