People always complain about how expensive food in Tokyo is, but it really isn’t! You have so many options for amazing food at a cheap price.
So let’s take a look at some really inexpensive food.
“KOMBINI” or CONVENIENCE STORES
Everyone has heard about Japan’s convenience stores, and how truly convenient they really are. And it is true.
The major convenience stores are Lawson, 7/11, and Family Mart. You can find them on almost every corner in Tokyo, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one. And of course, they are open 24 hours a day.
Family Mart will always have a special place in my heart, since they kept me going during my first stay in Japan. If you are in Japan, stop by and get a little bag of Family Mart sugar donuts for $1—my number one snack for my shinkansen rides.
But any one of these stores will have some really cheap ready-made meals that you can buy for $2-5 US Dollars. And forget about the dry hot dogs and fake cheese nachos that you find in your local (in)convenience store—I’m talking some great karage, unagi, onigiri, and many other bento boxes.
Plus, they will heat everything in a microwave in the event that your hotel doesn’t have one.
Japanese fast food chains are another obvious option—this means Mos Burger, Lotteria, Yoshinoya, and more.
Mos Burger is a burger change that is more popular than McDonald’s in Japan, so they are easy to find, and the meals usually run about $6-7 US Dollars. You should try their teriyaki burger.
Lotteria is another neat place that sells burgers and other interesting sandwich items. Their burgers have extra spices in their meat, and they are famous for having strange burgers like the shrimpless burger!
It has buns, lettuce and tartar sauce. Yeah, not much food, but for $2 US Dollars what do you expect right?
But be aware, Japanese food sizes are much smaller than American meals. For example, a medium fries and drink is about the size of a kid’s meal at McDonald’s. Not to mention that fast food–even in Japan–is not healthiest option.
Japanese Supermarkets also have some really cheap bento boxes, and if you arrive a little-bit after lunch time they have items at discount prices. Just look for the discount stickers!
Supermarkets also have a great selection of fruit, vegetables, and other items you can use to cook a meal for yourself. But expect to pay a higher price for fruit, such as oranges, bananas, and apples.
Also, for some reason, supermarkets are harder to find around major tourist areas in Japan. So make sure to look for their locations online before heading out for the day.
You didn’t think I’d talk about Japanese food without mentioning ramen did you. You can always find a great ramen shop that will sell you a huge bowl of ramen for about $3-6 US Dollars.
And don’t forget about “Kae-Dama”! This is a great system where you can request a “refill” of noodles for about $1-2 US Dollars more. Just shout “Kae-Dama”! And wait for the noodles to magically appear.
100 YEN SHOPS
So this isn’t your typical recommendation on where to find cheap food, but it could help you get through the day—or at least a long shinkansen ride.
Head over to one of the many 100 yen shops in Japan, and you can find a ton of snacks for just $1 US Dollars each.
CONVEYOR BELT SUSHI
Conveyor belt sushi restaurants are a really fun, and cheap, option.
Most locations sell sushi via different plate colors or sizes, with the most basic sushi costing $1 US Dollars per plate. They have many sushi varieties, and you can get the tea and water for free. But be careful. You can easily lose track of how many plates you get, and you could end-up spending more than you wanted to. But hey, your stomach will be happy.