Minimizing Cost in Hokkaido

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You have completed all of the basic procedures necessary to stay in Japan (Sapporo, Hokkaido) legally! All you need to do now is to survive! We know that Japan is one of the country that is quite expensive to live in! However, if you know how to cut off some unnecessary costs, you may be able to save extra money to spend on nomihoudai with your Japanese friends! Below are some tips from a gaijin who has been living in Sapporo, Hokkaido for more than one year:

So how to minimize transportation cost? well….you WALK. I know it may seem crazy at first, but Sapporo is a relatively small town compared to all the previous cities I was living in, and also the city is built in a way that is easy to travel within; it is built in a boxy way, so it is almost impossible to get lost when you walk around Sapporo.

There is also an underground passage connecting Sapporo StationOodori ParkSusukino station, and all the big shopping arcades are located around the passage. It will take around 20 minutes to walk all the way from Sapporo station to Susukino Station.

For my personal experience, if it is not necessary to take the subway, I will usually walk, but in case you really need to take the subway, below is the summary of public transportation cost in Sapporo: (adult fare, cash)

  • Subway: ¥200 – ¥370 one way trip
  • Tram: ¥200 one way trip
  • Bus:¥200 one way trip

I used to live in Fushimidorm, which is located quite far away from Hokkaido University campus, and if I always use both tram and subway to commute to my campus, it will cost me around ¥16,000 per month(cash)!

However, I managed to spend only around ¥6000 per month by using SAPICA card + tram only commuter pass (定期券, teiki-ken):

You can get this Sapica card in nearby ticket vending machine, it will cost ¥2000, ¥1500 will be put as balance, while ¥500 will be put as deposit. After you get this SAPICA card, if you think you will be travelling a lot by either TRAM or SUBWAY or BUS, it will be better for you to apply for commuter pass, and it can be applied in nearby commuter pass sales office.
When I was living quite far away from campus, I immediately applied for both SAPICA card + tram only commuter pass. For only ¥6000/month, I could use tram as many times as I want for the month, and then when I arrived in Oodori Park station, I usually walked all the way to campus through underground pass. I was never late to class.

Depending on your body size, the amount of money you need to spend on food every month may differ. I managed to survive only with less than ¥1000/day! (let me know if you managed to survive with less than that). In Japan, people tend to rush because of either work or school schedule, that is why instant foods are really necessary. Below are some of my favourite instant foods in case I am too lazy to cook:

Typical Instant rice in Japan, cost around ¥108 for one, 1-minute ready by microwave.
One of many kinds of instant curry, cost around ¥78-¥108, 2-minute ready by microwave.
Vegetable and fruit price is too expensive in Japan! luckily they have 100% fruit-vegetable juice sold in pouch in many convenience store. Cost around ¥108 for each.

Ok, I know you that you will eventually feel sick and bored of these instant foods, once in a time, you feel wanna go out and eat with some friends. I know because I sometimes have this feeling and decide to go out and eat with some friends. This is my favourite wallet-friendly chain restaurant in Japan so far, Matsuya:

One Matsuya near Sapporo station, one of my favourite resto for weekend date (LOL JKS, take her somewhere more fancy dammit! ;-))
Gyuudon + salad + egg + miso soup combo, cost only around ¥500!…again, if you wanna impress her, take her somewhere else….

Ok, good job, you managed to save extra money to have some fun on the weekend, perhaps you decide to visit multiple places in Sapporo during the weekend. Remember that one way trip with subway will cost you around ¥200-¥370 one way, imagine if you have some places in different parts of Sapporo you plan to visit with your friends, you might need to spend almost ¥1000-¥1500!But do not worry, in weekend and/or public holiday, it is possible to purchase donichika ticket, and with only ¥520, you can use the subway as many times as you want in one day!

You can purchase one-day Donichika ticket in nearby ticket vending machine. The option is available during weekend or public holiday
Donichika ticket, valid only for one-day when it is purchased, if you want to travel more than two-way trip, better to purchase this ticket.

Information here is based on personal experience. If you have any suggestion or addition do let us know.

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