1,000 Yen Experiment in Kyoto


I’m cheap for almost all things, and Japan has opened my eyes to the quality of food for low prices. For the cost of a subway ticket, which isn’t expensive, you can have a decent bite of food. For a long subway ride, you could probably buy a meal.

One night in Kyoto, I wanted to see how far 1,000 Yen could stretch and how much food and booze I could get. Spoiler alert, I was a bit drunk and pretty stuffed.

The strategy was to go to 711, Family Marts, grocery stores, and street vendors and try to get a bite of food, then a drink, and keep that order until the money ran out. I was also checking out the Gion district known for Geishas as well as a few temples near by.

I did this on the fly, and ended up spending just under 1,000 yen. For the night, I had a hot dog, cream puff, fried stick rice with nori, glass of sake, and two mixed drinks. For $8, I was very satisfied, more on the booze side than food, but it’s amazing the quality of food and drinks you can get for not much money. Some of the best ramen in the world, yes, mother fucking world, costs $8 and are located in train stations.

Below is the what I got:


First bite of food I got was a hot dog from 711. This came with a cute ketchup and mustard pack that mixes when you squeeze it out. This hot dog was much better than anything 711 serves. The casing was firm and had a snap to it. The insides were a much meatier than Vienna sausages, similar to Berkshire pork sausages.

Next…One Cup Sake. If I was a homeless drunk, this is what I would get every time. Not sure on the alcohol content, but I definitely felt the heat coming on after this. This cost about 80 cents. These adorable clear glass cups of sake were delicious, not with a lightly toasted rice taste.

Food was next on the agenda and I saw a restaurant that sold cream puffs. They had standard cream puffs, but additional flavors like green tea, black sesame, and a few others. I splurged on the black sesame cream puff (50 Yen more than the original). This was fresh and had about 2/3 cream and 1/3 black sesame filling. Really tasty.


I’ve been seeing mixed drinks in convenience stores throughout Asia, but didn’t try one until this experiment. I went with a grapefruit mixed drink which has 9% ABV. This thing was sugary and strong, and tasted like some sort of potato liquor. 9% ABV is strong as most beers in the states are half of this.


There was a line for a street vendor, so I stood in line and ordered one of whatever everyone else was having. This was a fried rice on a stick with nori. The nori in Japan is amazing. Flavorful and nothing like what we get in the states. Usually it’s on the stale side and fairly bland, but the nori here is fresh and crispy, not chewy. The sticky rice had a glaze, and caramelization that gave it a lot of flavor. This tasted like a crunchy exterior, chewy interior hot salty pudding.


Nearly done. Looking back on this, it was more of a booze excursion than anything, and my last drink was a lime cocktail in a can. This again, was made by Kirin, had 8% ABV, and had zero sugar (The first mixed drink wasn’t diet). These drinks are a nice alternative to beer.

For 1,000 Yen or $8, you can really eat well in Japan. Whether it is street food, take-out, mini-marts or ramen shops. While the food on average is much cheaper in the states, everything else like rent, clothing, transportation is similar. There is a priority on having food that is affordable by all.

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