Stretching Your Yen in Tokyo – Los Angeles Times

By Andrew Bender

Tokyo — As surely as the sun rises in the east and the ocean meets the shore, Tokyoites pay $7 for a cup of coffee and $200 a head for dinner, right?

Actually, no. This is the biggest myth I have encountered in more than 20 years as a corporate employee, writer and consultant on both sides of the Pacific.

Japan may be the world’s second-largest economy and Tokyo among the most expensive cities in the world, but most Japanese would go broke fast if they spent that much on food. Prices at everyday Tokyo restaurants are more typical of, well, Los Angeles.

To prove this point, I visited two of the city’s trendiest districts, Omote-sando and Shibuya, in a quest for lunch under 1,500 yen, or about $13, or dinner under 3,000 yen, or about $25.

It was no challenge, it turned out, and I didn’t have to slum it in fast-food joints. In fact, most of my meals were downright delish.

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