Cost of Living in Japan for Students

Japanese School desk surrounded by stacks of 10,000 yen notes

Anastasiia, third year iCLA student By Anastasiia, 3rd year Global Business & Economics Major,

Mikel, 4th year iCLA student and Mikel, 4th-year Interdisciplinary Arts Major

If you are dreaming of or planning to Study in Japan , we are sure you have wondered if it is expensive to live in Japan when you are a student. In this article we, Anastasiia and Mikel, have compiled all there is to know about how expensive student life in Japan is!

Total Monthly Cost
So, considering all of the typical expenses in this article, and imagining that you live in iCLA’s dormitory, your fixed costs per month in Japan will be approximately:
Rent+utilities (dormitory) 47,000
Meal plan 36,000
Cellular 3,000
Insurance 2,330
Total: 88,330

Note: you pay for your dormitory and meal plan in advance before the start of every semester or year, or in installments 

In case you would like to move out of the dorm, please look above for the estimates of price – it can be very different! We’d like to stress that in this article we’ve only outlined the cost of living in Yamanashi Prefecture. If you were studying in Tokyo your rent alone would be much higher. Food, entertainment costs, and transportation costs would all be higher too. The lower cost of living in Yamanashi is another great reason to study at iCLA!


Japanese bento box

Let us start out with the most basic necessity – food. 

First option you have is joining the meal plan at iCLA. For about 1,800 yen a day (or approximately 350,000 yen a year – you pay this or half the amount before the semester starts) you will receive 3 hot meals every day at the university canteen. Of course, this canteen is in the same building as the classrooms and the dormitories, so you can drop by, grab your breakfast, and go on with your studies. This is the simplest way one could follow, that requires minimum toil on your part. 

Note: for your first year at iCLA you are required to live in the dormitory and join the meal plan. You can only opt out of the meal plan if you have medical or religious reasons, and you will have to present proof of those reasons. The meal plan isn’t offered on weekends and during long holidays (which means it isn’t offered in August, January, February, and March). During that time, students use the Cooking Studio in the canteen – a kitchen with all the necessary appliances to make something delicious -, or the kitchenettes in their respective units. Eating out is also an option, and more on that just below! 

Another option you have is eating out – going to restaurants and cafés around the campus. There are plenty of cafes for any budget, and you will most likely buy snacks at the convenience stores quite frequently – so this option might take up from 1,500 yen to 3,000 yen a day. Easy, delicious, no need to worry about washing-up – it’s easy to get used to! 

Finally, there is the most budget-friendly option – cooking by yourself. It is fun, it is cheap, and it makes you some of the best memories! Depending on your tastes it might require from 500 to 1000 yen a day. Generally, fruits and raw meat are the most expensive thing on the list of daily groceries. A premium tip from Mikel: buy your groceries and drinks in big packages and big bottles – they are cheaper and last longer than their smaller counterparts. If you eat or drink something on a daily basis (say, bottled water) – get a subscription for it on Amazon, and this will save you a pretty penny. They will bring you water every two weeks, or every month, or in whatever way you like.

So, to sum up:

  1. Meal plan at iCLA – 1,800 yen a day, 36,000 yen a month;
  2. Eating out – 1,500~3,000 yen a day, 46,500~93,000 yen a month;
  3. Cooking by yourself – 500~1,000 yen a day, 15,500~31,000 yen a month.


Two female iCLA students chatting in dorm room

Is it expensive to live in your own place in Japan? Should you choose the dormitory instead of a rented room? Let’s see.

The dormitory at iCLA costs 564,000 yen a year, which is 47,000 yen a month. This provides you with a cute little private room with furniture and an AC, a kitchenette, Wi-Fi, a shared bathroom with two showers, two lavatories, and two sinks for one unit (max 8 people), a shared kitchenette, 3-minute access to classrooms and the canteen – you just have to ride the elevator down. You don’t have to pay for water, or electricity, or gas, or internet when you live at the dormitory! Everything is included. There is even a laundry room!

Note: You are required to spend your first year at iCLA at the dormitory. After two semesters run out, you can move out to find a place to rent, or continue living in the dormitory.

If you decide to find a place to rent, you will easily find one for any budget. There are rooms near the university starting from 15,000 yen a month. The room would be rather small, and you will have to pay for the utilities, but it would be your own separate room. Larger flats are available for 30,000~40,000 yen a month.

Anastasiia’s expenses for her flat (36m2, two rooms) outside the university for 1 month look like this:

  • Rent: 43,300 yen (including rental microwave, TV set, refrigerator, and washing machine)
  • Gas: ~3,500 yen
  • Electricity: ~3,300 yen
  • Internet: ~3,000 yen
  • Water: ~3000 yen

This amounts to 56,100 yen a month. Mind that it is a two-roomed flat, which is usually more expensive than a one-room flat. Utilities tend to eat up more of one’s budget during the winter, rising by up to about 4,000-4,500 yen if you’re careful.

One-room apartments will most likely cost you somewhere around 37,800 yen a month.

Summing up:

  1. iCLA dormitory – 47,000 yen a month;
  2. Rented flat – 27,000~60,000 yen a month.

You can read more about what it’s like to live in the iCLA dormitory and other accommodation options in Japan in our article: What’s it like in a student dormitory in Japan?


Azusa Train sitting at Otsuki Station, Yamanashi Japan

Your transportation expenses in Japan will depend on where and how often you would like to go. Living at iCLA, you can reach most places you need by train or bicycle. A train to the Kofu city center will cost 150 yen one way; a train to the biggest mall in the area is 210 yen one way. A default simple city bicycle will cost you somewhere around 15,000 yen, or less if you buy it second-hand from another student. We strongly recommend you buy a bicycle when you come – it will take you places much quicker than your feet will. Kofu is also pretty flat so it’s an easy way to get around.

Going to Tokyo is about 2,200 yen by bus one-way (and takes about 2 hours), about 2,500 yen if you go by regular train (takes about 2-3 hours), about 4,000 yen if you take the limited express train (takes about 1 hour). We prefer the regular train and the bus – they have the best views!

Traveling to other prefectures is not that cheap, because the price goes up the further you go, but you can save up by purchasing tickets like the Seishun Ticket – for 12,500 yen this one allows you to ride however far and however much you want for 5 days (not necessarily in a row). 


Microphone, Tamborine and Glass with Karaoke Machine

The cost of entertainment for students in Japan is very flexible depending on what you are planning to entertain yourself with. Cinema tickets are 1,900 yen for one ticket, museum tickets are mostly somewhere about 700 yen per ticket, a mug of beer is more or less 500 yen. Going to iCLA events and sightseeing in Kofu and around is free! 

Tip 1: cinema tickets are cheaper on Wednesdays – 1,200 yen.

Tip 2: there is a workshop in the iCLA curriculum called Fuji Culture: for about 6,000 yen it will take you around each and every spectacular thing there is to see around Mount Fuji.

Some other options you have to have fun are as follows:

  • going to karaoke, which is 1000-2500 yen per person for around 3 hours, depending on what you order when you’re there. There are lots of karaoke places competing with each other so you should look out for student discounts and deals relating to the time of day or day of the week.
  • going to onsen (hot springs), which is 400-800 yen per person. Many are available all around the prefecture, one of the most scenic is Hottarakashi Onsen, where you can see Mount Fuji while you soak in an outdoor spring.
  • going to Aeon Mall – the mentioned above biggest mall in the area, which has a cinema, arcades, lots of clothes and hobby shops and two food courts; getting there is 210 yen, as well as getting back,
  • going to Tokyo – lots of things to do there from visiting the make-your-own Kit-Kat shop to cat cafes to Tokyo Skytree. Getting there is, as mentioned above, between 2 and 4 thousand yen. Most entrance fees for places that have them are 1,000~3,000 yen. Visiting sights like Harajuku, Ueno Park, Odaiba, Asakusa Shrine, Kanda Shrine, Shinjuku Godzilla, and many others is free.
  • going to Fujikyu Highland – one of the most famous theme parks in Japan with an amazing collection of mind-blowing roller coasters. The one-day ride-all-you-want ticket is 6,400 yen, and it’s totally worth it – boarding one coaster separately costs about 2,000 yen anyway. Getting to the park costs about 1,500 yen.
  • going to Kokori – a small shopping center near Kofu Station. Don’t underestimate it – it has two of the most popular otaku (anime fan) shops – Animate and Lashinbang. Also arcades! Arcades are about 200-300 yen per game, depending on the machine.
  • going to Shosenkyo – a national park full of beautiful scenery, especially in autumn when all the leaves turn red. You can ride a bus there for around a thousand yen. It’s up in the mountains, it has rocks, rivers, waterfalls, sacred places, and natural stone shops. The entrance is free.


Hair Care items on a drugstore shelf

If you need to go to a doctor, you don’t have to worry about high fees. When you arrive in Japan, you will apply for National Health Insurance, which means all the medical fees will be 70% discounted for you. An average visit to a doctor will cost you somewhere around 2,000 yen. Insurance itself is about 2,330 yen a month.

There are free of charge mental health consultations available on campus (both in English and in Japanese), so this will save you money if you need help. Please don’t hesitate to ask for it!

Cosmetics of quite decent quality can be bought at drug stores – the price tag would depend on the type of thing you’re buying, but in Anastasiia’s personal view, it averages 2,000 yen per item.

There are several gyms within walking distance of the dormitories; a monthly fee is usually about 3,500 yen. There is also a free YGU gym on the grounds, but sports clubs’ members use it for their training, so you will have to check their schedule (posted on the door of the gym).


Laquered bowl and chopsticks

Last but not least, let’s discuss the miscellaneous things we buy every day, from storage items to clothes! 

THE BIGGEST TIP is to buy all the small things like plates, cooking items, laundry items, cleaning items, and household items at a 100-yen shop. There are a couple of them near the campus, and using them will really save you a fortune. The products there are of great quality for their price, so don’t hesitate and just go there.

To save up on clothes, Anastasiia recommends buying things at H&M and Uniqlo – these chains seem to have the best price-quality ratio; the former is to look cool, the latter is for functionality. Uniqlo’s summer and winter items help tremendously to get through the +40C heat and +7C windy cold. Mikel’s tip is to drop by second-hand stores: you can purchase items in near-perfect condition for very reasonable prices! 

There are several cellular providers in Japan, but LINEMO (previously Line Mobile) seems to be the cheapest one at about 3,000 yen a month for ~30GB of Internet. Works perfectly!

Frequently Asked Questions

Living costs in Japan vary by location. Major cities like Tokyo are more expensive, while regions like Yamanashi offer more affordable living options.

Yes, $2000 a month is generally sufficient for a modest lifestyle in many parts of Japan. This includes rent, food, and transportation.

Rent can range significantly; expect higher prices in city centers and more affordable options in rural or suburban areas. Rentals closer to train stations, and that are south facing are generally more expensive.

Monthly expenses vary widely with lifestyle and location. A budget of around $1500 to $2000 can cover basic living costs in many areas. Living in Japan, particularly in Yamanashi for students, can cost around 88,330 yen per month, including rent, meals, mobile phone, and health insurance.


So this is what student expenses in Japan look like for iCLA in Kofu! The lower cost of living and abundance of natural beauty in Yamanashi compared with Tokyo really lets you make more of your student experience. We tried to list all the basic things in this article, but if you have questions left, don’t hesitate to contact us, the Student Ambassadors, through the iCLA website, and we will answer.

About the Authors
Anastasiia, third year iCLA student
Anastasiia is a third year iCLA student from Russia majoring in Global Business and Economics. She enjoys the Lord of the Rings, Bleach, going to Karaoke and eating ramen.
Mikel, 4th year iCLA student
Mikel is a fourth year iCLA student from Mexico who likes music, arts, poetry, and playing Valorant in his spare time. Mikel majors in Interdisciplinary Arts.