A Guide to Cheap Eats in Japan: 4 Meals under Y400

Japan is known all over the world for its mouth-watering food. Even if you have experienced eating in a Japanese restaurant outside Japan before, you can clearly taste the difference when you eat locally in Japan.  The food, the people, and the ambiance of the restaurant make the whole experience interesting but sometimes it could also be expensive.  

If you are short on budget on your travel to Japan, do not worry. There are different options available for you to eat like a local without compromising the flavor. It is easy to find cheap and quality meals in Japan once you know what to look for. We made a list to help you experience Japan without breaking the bank.

1. Udon – Marugame Seimen

Udon is a thick, wheat flour noodle often serve as a noodle soup in its simplest form, as kake udon. Like most Japanese noodles flavor and thickness of the broth could vary per region and depending on the season, it could also be served chilled or hot.

Kake Udon is served in a mildly flavored broth, topped with thinly sliced scallions and tempura fritters. You can also add different toppings, vegetable or meat usually fried like tempura, on your meal for additional cost.

Tip: The place offers unlimited soup for your noodles. So make the most of it, it is the tastiest part of your meal and also you don’t have to worry about your noodles getting dry!

Price of Kake Udon: Large Bowl = Y390

2. Oden - from local convenience stores

You might have noticed them before but not really paid attention. Oden is one of many great finds that is available in your local convenience store.  

Oden is a Japanese hot pot dish in which ingredients are slowly simmered in a soy sauce based soup.  Different ingredients are available for as cheap as Y100. Depending on how much you eat, prices can vary. Usually with 1 knot of noodles and 3 meats on stick, I am already full.

Price of Oden: Y380 = 3 Meats on Stick and 1 Knot of noodles

3. Bento – from local supermarkets

Bento is readily available in many places in Japan.  It is a single portion takeout meal that comes in a box. It usually consists of rice, fish or meat, eggs and pickled or boiled vegetables.

Bento can also be arranged or decorated to look like cartoon characters, people, and buildings. Japanese homemakers often spend hours, money and energy to prepare a single bento box for their love ones or themselves.

Tip:  If you buy your bento in the evening near the closing time of your local supermarket, you can find stickers called waribiki, which means that your bento is 50% off sale. A huge discount!! Now you can buy your breakfast too!

But come early, discounted bento boxes are gone as soon as they have stickers on them because locals are usually early and already waiting.

Price of Bento box: Y380 (simple meal consist of rice, vegetable and meat)

With waribiki: Y190

4. Onigiri – from local supermarkets or convenience stores

Onigiri is a Japanese food made from white rice formed into different shapes and usually wrapped in nori with various fillings.  Onigiri makes rice portable and easy to eat, it is very convenient for travellers.  Depending on the filling, onigiri can be bought for as cheap as Y100.

It may not look like a meal itself, but try buying 4 onigiri and eat them as your lunch, I am sure you will be full and satisfied.

Tip: Waribiki  (50% off stickers) is also available for onigiri!!

Price of 1 Onigiri: Y100

We hope that you find our list helpful so you can enjoy your travel to Japan without going broke or even starving yourself.  Happy travels!