Travel in Japan, and Nagoya is said to be expensive. But it doesn't have to be if you know what you are doing. You could stay in a hostel for example and spend only around 3000 yen (roughly 30 US dollars) a night. You also don't necessarily need to spend money on activities in Nagoya
, there are always free and cheap options.
Another option to save quite a bit of money is by finding budget-friendly food options. Below are some ideas what you can eat in Japan in general, and Nagoya in particular, if you are on a tight budget.
If you are looking for a quick and cheap meal, do it like the thousands of office workers in Japan and grab lunch (or dinner) at a convenience store. They usually have a wide selection of Japanese dishes ranging from typical bento boxes with rice, fish, and side dishes to Ramen noodle soups you only need to heat up.
Convenience stores do also have different salads, a great choice if you feel like you need to get something healthy once in a while. If that is the case don't look too closely at the selection of desserts and sweets, though. Because convenience stores have some delicious dessert options like puddings, cakes, and donuts.
Depending on how much you eat meals can be as cheap as 100 yen (for one rice ball) but will most likely be somewhere below 1000 yen if you buy one main dish, a cheap dessert and maybe a drink. Some convenience stores have an area where you can eat, if there isn't one returning to your hostel is your best choice as eating in the streets is frowned upon in Japan and there are almost no benches where you can sit down. If you want to eat outside try a nearby park. It is perfectly fine to have a little picnic there.
Depachika before Closing time
The underground levels of department stores in Japan are filled with delicacies including a selection of delicious looking Sushi and some of the finest bento boxes. The foods sold at the so-called Depachika
is usually more expensive than your standard supermarket and so it is not the best choice to shop for food when you are on a budget.
But there is one trick the locals know that the tourists aren't aware of. Head to your nearest department store around closing time and the leftovers of the day will be greatly discounted giving you the chance to try some excellent food at a bargain price.
You can find two big department stores (Takashimaya and Meitetsu) directly at Nagoya Station. If you happen to stay in the center of Nagoya around Sakae Station, check out Mitsukoshi
and Matsuzakaya for some delicious bento boxes.
The cheapest (but probably not the healthiest) meal you can find in Japan in Ramen. It is quick and delicious and there is no stigma against eating Ramen on your own and so it is one of the most popular meals with so called salarymen, the office workers of Japan.
There are wide varieties of Ramen everywhere in Japan. Pork bone broth, soy sauce, Miso are some of the most popular choices. You can find Ramen restaurants at every corner in Japan and Nagoya is no exception. For a bowl of Ramen, you can expect to pay around 700 yen and the second serving of noodles will be an additional 100 yen. This is great just to make sure you are really full at the end of your meal.
For a delicious snack in between that doesn't cost too much try some Japanese street food. The best place to do that in Nagoya is in the Osu district. The roofed-over Osu shopping streets
are heaven for every street food lover and you will find a wide variety of street foods here, from savory to sweet and all costing between 100 and 500 yen.
If you are looking for some local Nagoya street foods try Miso Kushi Katsu, a deep-fried pork cutlet on a stick covered in red Miso sauce. And have an Agemanbo for dessert, a deep-fried Mochi ball filled with red bean paste. Something you can only find in Osu.
Nagoya Local Specialties You Can Enjoy on a Budget
If you want to enjoy the local Nagoya cuisine you can do that also when you are on a budget, you simply have to choose which of the many famous dishes you can afford.
For example, the local specialty Hitsumabushi, grilled freshwater eel is a real delicacy and even the smallest cheapest portion will cost around 1700 yen with a normal size around 2500 to 3000 yen. That's definitely not budget-friendly, but if you can scrape together that much money for a single meal I highly recommend you try this dish.
The following are some local dishes that won't cost an arm and a leg! So you can get to know the Nagoyan food culture without being broke at the end of your meal.
are a flat and broad variation of Udon noodles. They are very popular in Nagoya and can be found at many local Udon shops as well as designated Kishimen restaurants.
The noodles are served either hot as soup or chilled. Prices usually range from around 600 yen for the most basic version to over 1000 yen for dishes including more expensive ingredients such as shrimp Tempura.
I recommend Miya Kishimen if you want to try Kishimen in Nagoya. They have multiple stores around Nagoya but you will have the best experience at the shop on the grounds of Atsuta Jingu, the second most important Shinto shrine in Japan.
Contrary to what the name suggests this form of Ramen isn't from Taiwan, but rather was invented in Nagoya. The story goes that the chef of the Taiwanese restaurant called Misen was looking for a cheap and quick dish to serve his staff. A spicy chicken stock-based soup with lots of garlic and peppers is topped with minced meat, leak, and bean sprouts only.
The dish was so popular that eventually, it made it on the regular menu of Misen and nowadays can be found at many Ramen restaurants and Chinese restaurants in the city. Still, I recommend trying the original at a Misen restaurant. One serving of Taiwan Ramen costs around 600 yen. But the other dishes at Misen aren't too expensive either.
Miso Nikomi Udon
The people of Nagoya are famous for loving red Miso. A paste made from fermented soybeans. Miso is used in many dishes in Nagoya, one of them is called Miso Nikomi Udon, or Miso Stewed Udon.
This dish of Udon noodles served in a piping hot Miso-based soup has a strong flavor and is the perfect dish for cold winter days. The simplest version is topped with only some steamed fishcake called Kamaboko, leaks, and a raw egg (that will quickly stock in the hot soup). Other versions include different kinds of meat, mussels, shrimp Tempura and more.
You can find Miso Nikomi Udon at many neighborhood Udon restaurants for around 700 yen. The most tourist-friendly option is a chain of restaurants called Yamamotoya, said to have popularized the dish around 70 years back. The basic serving at Yamamotoya costs around 1000 yen.
If you are a big eater and always complain that the serving sizes in Japan are too small you will finally feel full after ordering a gigantic portion of Ankake Spaghetti at a surprisingly reasonable price.
Ankakae Spaghetti are ultra-thick spaghetti noodles served in a peppery creamy sauce made from vegetables. The dish was created when a chef tried to adapt meat sauce to the Japanese pallet. What resulted had nothing to do with Bolognese but was very popular with the locals.
Ankake Spaghetti can be topped with a wide variety of vegetables, meats and other things such as cheese and egg.
Some of the most popular restaurants serving Ankake Spaghetti in Nagoya are Spaghetti House Yokoi, Spaghetti House Ciao, and Ankake Taro but there are many more.
A normal size of Ankake Spaghetti costs between 700 and 1000 yen depending on the topping. And for a big serving of 500-gram spaghetti you usually just pay 100 yen or so more.
Are you looking for a cheap breakfast option in Nagoya? Then you should try something that is called a Nagoya Morning or Nagoya Morning Service. At most cafes and coffee shops in the city, you will get a free meal with your morning coffee. This usually consists of a slice of toast and a boiled egg but some restaurants have other options as well such as toast with jam, a salad, and soup.
Since the price of coffee is usually around 500 yen that is quite a nice breakfast option on a budget.
I recommend checking out Komeda's Coffee, a coffee house chain that originated in Nagoya. For your Nagoya Morning until 11 a.m. you can choose between a slice of toast with a boiled egg, egg spread, or Ogura red bean spread. The Ogura red bean spread is another Nagoya specialty and goes extremely well with your morning coffee. Give it a chance.
I hope the above options have convinced you that you can enjoy Japan and Japanese food on a budget. Nagoya is a great place to visit not only because of the delicious local food but also because of its interesting sights and great day trip options. Nagoya is only waiting to be discovered by you!
If you have a limited amount of time for your journey, see our advice about how much time to spend here:
Should I spend 1, 2, or 3 days in Nagoya?, Should I spend 3, 4, or 5 days in Nagoya? and Is Nagoya Worth Visiting?