Japan is the home of sushi, and Japanese chefs have an immense quantity and variety of fresh fish available at their disposal. So, it begs the question: Is sushi cheap in Japan? Let’s find out!
When you think of Japan, many things might come to mind: anime, J-Pop, ramen, and sushi. If you’re planning to travel to Japan or spend time working there as a digital nomad, you might be wondering if you can live cheaply on local food like ramen or sushi.
A sushi dinner can add up in price, whether you like maki sushi, sashimi, or nigiri. And that’s true whether you go to a kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi restaurant or a specialty sushi bar.
How Much Does Sushi Cost in Japan?
You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered, “How much does sushi cost in Japan?” Depending on where you eat, sushi can cost less than a dollar per plate. That’s right—less than a dollar.
For example, at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Japan, you can get a plate of ikura nigiri for about 80 cents. Whereas, in America, a plate of ikura nigiri costs almost $6.00.
But, Japan is the birthplace of sushi. So, if you want the best, most indulgent experience, you can expect to pay around $500 for an omakase meal.
Omakase means, “I’ll leave it to you,” showing your faith in the sushi chef’s choices. Falling somewhere in the middle, the average cost for a roll is roughly $5.00.
Where Can I Find Sushi in Japan?
You can find sushi in Japan everywhere. There are sushi vending machines where nigiri sets will run you about $8.00. Prefer to dine at an onsen (hot spring)? Some sell food, including sushi.
Of course, you’ll find sushi in places you’d typically expect to see it, like restaurants and bars. Where you buy your sushi also affects how much you should expect to pay.
Where Can I Find the Cheapest Sushi in Japan?
So, is sushi cheaper in Japan? Prices of sushi range, but there are many affordable sushi options. The most affordable sushi restaurant in Japan is kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi).
Established in 1990, Genki Sushi is a chain restaurant with restaurants worldwide. In Japan, they have locations in Shibuya and Ibaraki.
Some Genki Sushi locations have a conveyor belt set up, while others have a digital menu that you order from. Your food is served to you by a small train on a track that stops right at your table.
They also have a setup where a sushi chef prepares your food in front of you. They will hand the sushi directly to you.
Their plates average out to about a dollar after tax, and you can’t beat their value for money. It’s also a bit of a novelty having a robot shinkansen (bullet train) bring your food to you. (If you’re fortunate enough to find a location that offers it.)
Ganso Zushi has branches in Shibuya and Shinjuku, among other cities in Japan. It’s one of Japan’s most affordable sushi chain restaurants with its low-key, simple setup. Perhaps that’s part of its charm.
You’ll find frugal foodies stopping in for a filling and cheap meal, in which plates start as low as 90 cents.
Where Can I Find the Most Expensive Sushi in Japan?
You can find some of the best sushi in Japan. After all, Japan set the standard for what great sushi is. If you don’t mind digging deep into your pockets, you’ll have the most memorable sushi dining experience.
Sukibayashi Jiro Honten
Jiro’s is a 10-counter-seat restaurant with a 3-star Michelin rating. It’s located in one of Tokyo’s subway stations and provides an intimate setting for guests.
Their omakase menu features fresh seafood purchased at the world-famous Tsujiki market.
For roughly $300, you’ll get 20 pieces prepared and served by the world’s best sushi chef. Because of the high demand, you’ll need a reservation well in advance to dine there.
You must have a reservation to dine at Jiro’s. Due to high international interest, they only accept bookings through a Japanese concierge.
Located in Roppongi, Nihonryori RyuGin features dishes created by owner-chef Seiji Yamamoto. Chef Yamamoto advocates using Japanese ingredients in their natural state for the “ultimate feast.” He believes in the “excellence of taste” and the feeling of happiness it brings.
The restaurant has a prestigious 3-star Michelin rating. Its prices reflect that accordingly. Be sure to book a reservation to dine in, and be aware, that if you cancel your reservation, you’ll get hit with a fee of about $320—give or take a few dollars.
You should splurge a little if you’re fortunate enough to visit the restaurant when their special seasonal dishes are available. The limited-time options include fugu (blowfish) or Matsuba crab.
Matsuba crabs are snow crabs with succulent meat on their legs; both are a must-try if you’re a seafood lover.
Why Are the Prices So Varied for Sushi in Japan?
So, is sushi cheap in Japan? Well, various factors affect the price of your sushi. These factors range from the freshness or cut of the fish, where you’re purchasing it, and who prepared it.
Conveyor belt sushi is your best bet for the most affordable prices. After all, they tend to buy their ingredients in bulk, which lowers the cost to consumers.
On the other hand, there are specialty or fine-dining restaurants. You’ll pay for the highest quality ingredients and the chef’s expertise there.
As with any other specialty dining, you’re also paying for the experience, which in a way, is priceless.
Summary – Is Sushi Cheap In Japan?
Is sushi cheap in Japan? Sometimes. It ultimately comes down to where you look and what you’re looking for regarding sushi.
A premium slice of bluefin tuna won’t cost the same as salmon sashimi. You know you’re about to bite into something special, whether premium or not.
What you pay is entirely up to you, your wallet, and your tastebuds. So, order up and enjoy. Itadakimasu!