Benefits of a falling yen

The Japanese yen and the US dollar are losing ground on the world market. The Euro and the Australian dollar are getting stronger. What does this mean to you as a traveler to Japan?

If you’re from Europe or Australia, I don’t need to tell you, as you already know that Japan is becoming more and more affordable as a result of the weak yen. But for those wishing to travel to Japan with US dollars, how is a weak yen, paired with a weakening dollar, helping them?

Japan is not as expensive as it used to be

Although Americans won’t benefit from their currency getting stronger against the yen, Japan is still much cheaper than it used to be. Despite the US annual inflation rate of around five percent per year, Japan has had no inflation for a long time. Accommodation and food, for example, haven’t gone up in price since I first came here 15 years ago. So even a weak dollar is buying more today than it would have five years ago.

No longer Made in Japan?

Not only have prices not changed, but many things have actually gotten cheaper. As the Japanese can no longer afford to spend money as they could 20 years ago, Japan has turned to importing goods from China where the labor is much cheaper. Everything from daily necessities to food now comes from China at a much reduced price.

Budget accommodation abounds

Budget accommodation is still especially cheap. You can still get basic accommodation for 2,000 yen to 3,000 yen per night in many of the smaller tourist towns. You may find that the decor in these accommodations is a little quaint and outdated, but you can still expect the rooms to be clean and management efficient. After all, if they did update, they’d also have to charge a higher price.

The most expensive part of your trip in Japan will be transportation. Trains and taxis are still expensive. So choose cheaper ways to get around, such as long distance buses and ferries, for the longer parts of your trip.

For many people, it still may be hard to imagine Japan as a cheap destination. Being able to get by on so little money in such a first-world country with all the mods and cons is a nice contrast if you ask me.

Keep an eye on daily currency conversion rates at http://www.xe.com/

You can also type in yen amounts to find out their values in your currency.

Currency Calculator offers exchange rates, a calculator and historical graphs of changes in currencies.
http://www.x-rates.com/calculator.html

Amy Chavez is author of Guidebook to Japan: What the other guidebooks won’t tell you” She is a columnist for The Japan Times, co-hosts the Planet Japan podcast. Visit her website at www.amychavez.com