Experience Japan In Malaysia With Little Or No Budget

Japan travel budget

From the food to the culture, there are many reasons why Malaysians love to visit Japan.

But ask anyone who’s ever visited the land of the rising sun and they will tell you how expensive it is. And that’s true with roundtrip ticket prices alone can be around RM2,000++.

The fact is, travelling to Japan can be very expensive (or downright unaffordable) for many Malaysians.

Does that mean you can’t experience Japan with no budget? Not necessarily!

You can easily have an authentic Japanese experience, from the food to the culture, right here in Malaysia. And the best part, it won’t burn a hole in your wallet to do it. So, if you’re looking to have a taste of what Japan is like, read on to find out how.

Experience the culture: Bon Odori Festival

Japan has some of the most unique cultural festivals (or Matsuri) in the world. While we can’t precisely experience winter festivals like the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, we can still enjoy some of their more popular summer festivals.

One such festival is the Bon Odori festival. This is a yearly event held by the Japan Club of Kuala Lumpur. What’s more, this festival has been going on for over 40 years. It has grown into one of the biggest Japanese cultural festivals in Malaysia.

The festival usually takes place around July or August each year.  It is the best place to experience Japanese culture without leaving Malaysia.  For example, you can get a deep dive into the culture with their Bon Odori dance and drum performance. And the fact that admission is free, makes it even better.

Total cost: RM0 entry fee to the festival, just the small change you need for commuting or carpark fees if you are driving.

Experience the zen: Selangor-Japan Friendship Garden

Big festivals are not your thing? Then how about something that’s a little more zen?

The Selangor-Japan Friendship Garden is a public garden/park that was built to symbolise the ties of friendship between Japan and Malaysia. Located in the capital of Selangor at Shah Alam, the public park opened its door in 2021 and boasts over 2.4 hectares of Japanese-inspired garden designs.

Some of the attractions that you can experience at the garden include a zen garden, torii gateways, bamboo tree walkways and a reflexology garden. And just like the Bon Odori festival, the Selangor-Japan Friendship Garden is free to enter.

Total cost: RM0 entry fee to the park, just need to cover the commuting or carpark fees if you are driving.

Experience the katana: Hamachidori Dojo

Samurais, or Bushi, is as part of Japanese culture as anything else. And if you ever wanted to experience the feeling of swinging around a katana, look no further than Hamachidori Dojo in Kuala Lumpur.

Hamachidori Dojo lets you live out your samurai (or Ruroni Kenshin) dreams by teaching you Iaido, a form of solo martial art that focuses on using the katana.

Of course, you’re not going to use an actual katana (it’s super illegal to own one!). Instead, you’ll be using either a wooden sword called Bokuto/Bokken or an Iaito which is a practice sword with no cutting edge.

The first introductory class is free but if you want to continue learning and become a member, it will only cost you RM50 a month. Plus, as a member, you can also learn other martial arts such as Kendo or Tankendo with no additional cost.

Total cost: RM0 for the introductory class, RM50 per month to be a member

Experience the cuisine: Himawari Restaurant

After all of the experiences that you’ve had, from dancing to the fires of Bon Odori to zen-ing out in the garden to living the way of the samurai, you’ll need to fill your stomach up with some good Japanese.

While there are many Japanese restaurants in Malaysia, they tend to lean more towards the expensive side, especially if you want an authentic Japanese experience.

Himawari Restaurant is a hidden gem of a restaurant within the JCKL. It used to be so hidden, that you couldn’t even find it in Google! Serving affordable Japanese comfort food, it’s one of the best places to immerse yourself in Japanese culture while having a hot bowl of beef sukiyaki.

Total cost: Oyako Don RM17.80, Beef Sukiyaki + Dinner set RM28.80

If you’re a fan of Japanese culture, the ultimate goal will always be to visit the country itself. But in the meantime, if you still want to experience what Japan has to offer, you can still do it comfortably (and affordably!) in our backyard.

If you do want to plan an actual trip to Japan, we have a FREE tool to help you get started!

You can easily start organising your trip to Japan today.  Try using iMoney’s free checklist planner. Here is what it could potentially look like:

Experiencing Japan doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. With a little planning and help with tracking your monthly budget, an actual trip to Japan is within your reach.

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