Japan Cheap Eats #2 | Nagasaki

This is part of a series about eating on a budget and I've titled the series, "Japan Cheap Eats". Many people think Japan is expensive, but I'm here to prove them wrong! We found many budget options and I wanted to share them with you!

Previously, I posted about eating cheap in Japan. As most people know, Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Everyone always talks about how expensive it is, but Markus and I were determined to enjoy Japan despite being on a budget. One of the best ways to control your budget is eating frugally. For most of our time in Japan, we ate really cheap, but there were times that we splurged. I mean, I couldn't travel all the way to Japan and eat at 7-11 the whole time!

Another really cheap place to eat is the grocery store. Japan, like Korea, has really great supermarkets. They are filled with ready to made meals at reasonable prices. There is so much variety and it always took us a long time to decide what to eat. The food is made fresh daily and really affordable. They have everything you could want, sushi, bento boxes, salads etc. It's a really great alternative to eating fast food, which is always the last resort for us. When Markus and I got sick of going to marts, we always trekked to the nearest grocery store. 

For our second cheap eats, we decided to go a bit healthier. We didn't want to overload on ramen and fried foods. Markus and I always split everything, so that we can have a nice variety of tastes and meals. For this meal, we chose a salad, grilled eel with rice and sashimi with udon. Everything was really good. I couldn't believe that our meal was only $10. It was also nice to eat something that felt fresher and a bit healthier. If we spent all our time eating instant ramen and fried chicken, I'm sure our bodies would've hated us!

Cost Breakdown:
Salad: 105 yen
Salad Dressing: 20 yen
Grilled Eel with Rice: 498 yen
Sashimi with Udon: 398 yen
TOTAL: 1021 yen or $10.06

Gunkanjima | Hashima Island, Japan

Markus and I are a fan of films, which makes sense since Markus is an animator. When we travel, for some reason, I always tend to look for filming locations. We've been to Pemberely, Hogwarts, and 221B Baker Street. When I was planning our trip to Japan, Skyfall was just released in the theaters. When I saw the film, I remember being intrigued by the abandoned island that was featured. I've always wanted to explore a ghost town or an abandoned theme park. After a bit of research, I learned that it was in Japan. So, I made sure to include Hashima Island on the list.

Hashima Island is known by so many different names such as Gunkanjima, Battleship Island and Ghost Island. It's located off the coast of Nagasaki. The island was primarily used as a coal mining facility from 1887 to 1974. It was bought by Mitsubishi in 1880 and people lived and worked on the island. In 1974 the mine was closed and Hashima has been abandoned since then. Due to several typhoons, the buildings have taken a beating and the island was closed off to visitors. It's popularity has risen in the past few years and it was decided to open Hashima for supervised tours.

Markus and I used to watch a lot of those "ghost hunter" like shows. I'm really intrigued by places that are supposedly haunted and for some reason always end up watching shows like that on TV. I was a huge fan of Unsolved Mysteries when I was a kid, so I think this fascination stems from this. What can I say? I'm a bit of a weirdo, but at least it makes for interesting posts and travels!

I was a bit sad that we weren't allowed to freely explore the island, but I can understand the reasoning behind it. The tour took us to three different spots on the island. The tour was completely in Japanese so Markus just wandered around. It was also extremely hot that day, so by the time we reached our third stop, I was pretty over it. Despite the heat and not understanding the tour, I enjoyed being able to visit the island. It was really cool to see something so unique and unlike any other place. Maybe Markus and I will start searching for more abandoned places we could explore on our own.

Japan Cheap Eats #1 | Nagasaki

This is part of a series about eating on a budget and I've titled the series, "Japan Cheap Eats". Many people think Japan is expensive, but I'm here to prove them wrong! We found many budget options and I wanted to share them with you!

Earlier, I posted about cheap eats in Japan and promise that I would post more. Markus and I knew that Japan was gonna be the last international trip that we would make for a year or two, so we wanted to make the most of our trip there. We had one problem, we couldn't spend as much as we liked. We saved quite a bit of cash while working as ESL teachers in South Korea, but we didn't want to go overboard. In a country like Japan, it's SO easy to spend all your money. Markus and I knew that we would probably never have a chance to fly to Japan for free, so we took full advantage of the opportunity.

It's a pretty well known fact that Japan is expensive, but if you know the tricks, it's surprisingly affordable. When Markus and I travel, we try to be smart. We don't do everything on the cheap, but we try to spend our money wisely. One of the ways that we made the trip affordable was eating cheap. Thankfully, Japan has many economical options and many of these options are really yummy.

Our main go to place for budget eats were the marts or convenient stores. In America, most people in their right mind would not eat a meal at a convenient store. In Japan and even Korea, it's a popular place to get cheap and yummy eats. In Japan, there are so many options and on our first night we really pondered our selection. One of my favorite snacks in Korea was samgak kimbap. It's also known as onigiri in Japan. Basically, it's a triangle of rice that is mixed with a vegetable or protein and then wrapped in seaweed. We ate every version available in Korea and in Japan, there were even more offerings. The best thing about samgak kimbap? They're so cheap. The cost varies between $1-$2. For our first cheap eat, we got two kimbaps, a fried chicken patty, a huge U.F.O. ramen and a Suntory beer.

As for the taste of everything? I would say average and quite good. It was filling and it didn't taste bad at all. The kimbap were okay. We got one with a weird root vegetable and one with fish eggs. I loved the fish egg one, but I love fish eggs. The root vegetable wasn't my favorite and it tasted like salty rice. The ramen was pretty yummy and had a nice flavor. The fried chicken patty wasn't anything special and tasted like you expect. I've always wanted to drink something by Suntory, ever since I watched Lost in Translation. One of my favorite scenes is when Bill Murray is shooting a commercial for Suntory. It's great and I made it a life goal to have a Suntory drink in Japan.  The beer itself tasted like a pale ale. Nothing really special.

Overall, I enjoyed our first cheap eat in Japan. Although, between the ramen and the fried chicken, I was feeling a bit heavy. I love ramen, but the sodium content is really too much and this meal completely lacked veggies. By the end of our trip, we were mart experts and had it down to a science. I can't wait to share more Japan cheap eats with you!

Cost Breakdown:
Samgak Kimbap: 240 yen
U.F.O. Ramen: 300 yen
Fried Chicken Patty: 350 yen
Suntory Beer: free with chicken purchase
TOTAL: 890 yen or $8.71