This was a surprise. So much of one that one day early in the trip I spent an hour double checking the spreadsheet. Just spent another 30 minutes double checking and comparing my spending record to ATM and exchange records. They’re within $27.
So, believe it or not, the trip per day cost, minus airfare and shopping* was 9,380 JPY (~ $94). How was that done? I kept lodging costs within reason. The Okayama and Kyoto base camp hotels were highly rated for value. Both were fully booked while I was there.
Food costs were kept low by eating in restaurants only for lunch. Breakfast, dinner and snacks came from prepared food section of grocery stores and 7-11s, protein from hard boiling eggs in the room’s hot water pot, carbos came from bakeries and onigiri (seasoned rice balls, wrapped in roasted nori, packaged so the wet and dry don’t meet until opening the package. Check out the slideshow.).
*If shopping is added, the cost per day was 12,850 JPY (~ $129). All the shopping was for items not available in Thailand, available as high priced fakes, available but of craptacular quality, or the identical items were easier to buy in Japan than Bangkok. Shopping wasn’t recreation so it doesn’t make sense to include it in the cost per day.