Cheap Eats in Tokyo for Students on a Budget

For a student trying to get by on a budget, every cent counts. Food is one of the necessary expenses that can eat up your budget. There are many options for saving on food such as cooking but with the limited time of stay in Japan, cooking may not always be an option. Tokyo can be expensive if you don’t know where to get good, affordable meals.

Here are some suggestions on eating on a budget in Tokyo:

124972831_44e2c59b30_zSupermarket suppers

Supermarkets and convenience stores offer prepared meals that come in a wide variety of options. They are fast, delicious, healthy, and affordable. You can head straight to the ‘to go’ or the obento aisles to choose from rice balls, noodles, rice meals, and sushi.

Supermarket bento. | Julia Julia

Stand-and-eat noodle shops or curry houses

These food stalls have no chairs. People just basically eat and run. Deciding on a meal is pretty straightforward. You can choose a dish from the almost-real plastic replicas on display. The food comes out in a few minutes and you can immediately enjoy a hot meal. The shops are usually found in busy places like train stations.

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Delicious depachika meals

Depachika is a term for department store basements. Basements of department stores in Japan were places where you could usually find seasonal and ceremonial gift items. But during the 1930s, department stores began selling food in their basements as a convenient and quick way to get a ready meal. You can find a variety of affordable food in depachikas. All the food is carefully prepared and beautifully laid out, ready to be eaten or as take-out. The food could rival the creations prepared by the best chefs and food artisans.

odakyu depachika. | mamichan

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Yatai yumminess

Japanese street food is also known as yatai (屋台), the word for a small, mobile food stall.  Japanese street food is filling, inexpensive, and delicious. Some Japanese street food favorites include okonomiyaki, yakitori, gyoza, and takoyaki. Just keep in mind it is considered impolite to walk while eating when in Japan.

Street food stall. | Keith Miller

Vending machine madness

Vending machines are all over Japan. The popularity of vending machines in Japan compared to other countries is largely because of the low petty-crime and vandalism rates. The machines have become a convenient and affordable means to purchase almost anything, minus the cost of live employees to do the labor.

Wherever you decide to have a meal in Japan, whether cooking or trying any of the suggested places to grab a meal, you will never be left wanting for a satisfying and delicious meal.