Moving to Japan can be expensive, so it’s no wonder that many new residents in Japan try to penny-pinch where possible. At the same time, in order to learn more about the local culture and language as well as make friends, it’s natural to still want to visit facilities like museums, movie theaters, and karaoke boxes. In this article, we introduce several services to help you save a bit on these entertainment expenses!
Watching Japanese movies in a local theater is a great way to learn more about Japanese culture and improve your language skills. Plus, getting to watch various films on a large screen can be exciting! No wonder so many people want to go to the movies often. Unfortunately, the cost deters many people.
If that describes you, then you should know that movie theaters all across Japan have special discount days! On these days, you can watch a movie for just 1,100~1,300 yen—a decent discount compared to the usual 1,800~1,900 yen ticket price. There are a wide variety of special discount days, but these are the ones you’ll most often see:
・First Day: On the 1st of every month, anyone can buy movie tickets for just 1,100~1,200 yen.
・Ladies’ Day: On this day, only women can get discounted movie tickets (1,100 yen). It’s on Wednesday for many theaters.
・Late Show Discount: This isn’t exactly a special discount day, but many places let you watch a movie for just 1,300 yen if you see it late, such as after 8:00 pm.
The types of discount services and days differ depending on the theater, so you should definitely look into it when looking for somewhere to watch a specific film.
Apart from special discount days, some mobile phone carriers also provide discounts for movie tickets. For example, if you’re a member of the d POINT Club—run by telecom giant NTT Docomo—then every Tuesday, you can get discounted tickets at all AEON Cinema locations.
Some credit cards also provide discounts for movie tickets, such as EPOS or AEON. If you’re a movie buff and signing up for a credit card in Japan, check to see if your credit card provider offers discounts for movie tickets!
Karaoke boxes are great places for bonding with people you meet in Japan as well as practicing your Japanese and are popular entertainment sites as a result. If you plan to do the same, wouldn’t you like to learn about some ways you can save a few bucks at karaoke?
Most karaoke boxes set a variety of prices depending on the specific day of the week and the time of the day you utilize them. Visiting in the daytime on a regular weekday is cheaper than on weekday nights, weekends, or public holidays, at a third to a half of the price of weekday nights, and significantly cheaper than weekends and public holidays as well.
Many places also have three-hour package plans, as well as “free time” plans where you can pay a set price to karaoke for as many hours as you want within a set time period (e.g. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm). If you plan to karaoke for a long time, make sure you visit the karaoke box at the start of the free time plan to maximize your savings!
Each establishment has a different set of discounts on offer, from member or smartphone app discounts to special discount days for women and even student discounts. We recommend checking with the place you want to visit in advance to see what they have to offer! Some karaoke boxes even offer discounts if you’re with a specific credit card provider such as EPOS or AEON.
Sports Centers (Bowling, Batting Cages, Etc.)
Getting some exercise, especially when done together with friends, is a good way to release the stress of being in an unfamiliar environment as well as deepen relationships.
One of the best places to get moving is Spo-cha, a giant amusement complex situated within Round One Stadiums all across Japan. Just pay the entrance fee and you’ll get access to over 40 different games and sports!
Furthermore, if you join the Round One club, you can get some additional perks and discount coupons. Your club member status will change depending on how many times you visit Round One facilities, and as you rise in status, the percentage discounted increases as well. Sports fans are strongly recommended to join the club to save some cash!
Art Galleries and Museums
Improve your sense of art and learn more about Japanese culture by visiting cultural facilities like art galleries and museums!
Many of these establishments will hold special exhibitions around 3-4 times each year, and the tickets for these tend to be more highly priced than regular exhibitions. However, you can get 200-300 yen off if you purchase advance tickets, and around 700 yen off if you purchase limited-time pair tickets. Make sure you check the ticket information in advance for any place you wish to visit!
If you really like visiting cultural facilities, we recommend purchasing the Tokyo Museum Grutto Pass, a coupon book for 99 cultural facilities including art galleries and museums across Tokyo.
Some spots also have memberships or support programs, and by joining these, you can get free access to regular or special exhibitions or even get discounted souvenir goods! Check the facility’s official website to see if they have such a thing, and if they do, consider joining them.
Ticket resellers buy and sell various kinds of tickets, including coupons, event tickets, and even shareholder discount coupons. You’ll find them all across Japan’s large cities and business districts. Of course, their offerings extend to advance tickets for movies and special exhibitions at art galleries, event tickets, and even JR train tickets! So, if you forgot to buy your advance ticket to whichever event you plan to attend, or your schedule freed up and you’re looking to fill it in with a movie, drop by a ticket reseller to see if they have a ticket first.
Amusement facilities like theme parks and aquariums often carry a high price, so you might hesitate before visiting. However, most of these spots have annual passes that will let you visit them as many times as you want throughout the year for a fixed price that you pay upfront. The prices for these annual passes depend on the facility, but you will normally break even after 4-5 visits. For some of them, you can even break even after just two visits, so if there’s a place that you often visit, it really might be worth buying their annual pass!
Have Fun Saving Cash!
In addition to all of this, did you know that there are many facilities and events throughout Japan that you can enjoy for free? Don’t miss out on them! Make sure you look into your local area or spots related to your interests.
We hope that this article will help you save while improving your life in Japan, whether that be through brushing up on your Japanese, learning more about Japanese culture, or making friends with the Japanese locals.
Header credit: PIXTA
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By the way, if you're looking for a job or career change and you're already in Japan, we now have a jobs site called tsunagu Local Jobs! On top of having exclusive job listings that you won't find anywhere else, we've vetted all the listings to ensure that they're foreigner-friendly and high quality. If you register for an account on the site, you can even make use of our agent service where our international staff will help you find the perfect job in Japan, so check it out today!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.