In case you haven’t heard, Japan increased its sales tax from 5% to 8% last 1st April 2014. Experts are already saying that the increase in sales tax is sure to hit local consumer spending.
However as a frequent traveler to Japan, I can also expect the new tax hike to affect my personal spending in what is already one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the world. How badly will the 3% increase in Japan’s sales tax hurt Filipino travelers?
For purchases worth JPY 5000 and below, the changes are not really felt. You may need three more yen to pay for your purchases at Daiso, but because one yen is worth so little not many people notice. However, once you move past the JPY 4999 mark, then the new tax starts to make itself felt.
Hotel rooms, airline tickets, and bullet train rides now cost an additional JPY 300 or more — which is huge considering a cheap meal of onigiri and bottled tea can cost less than that. Premium figures, apparel, and game consoles are likewise affected by the tax hike. Lastly, concert tickets, theme park entrance, and tourist attractions now cost an additional JPY 500 or more — yikes >.>
However, there is a silver lining in this dark cloud :3 With the way the Philippine peso has been appreciating versus the Japanese yen, you can actually get more bang for your buck. You don’t even need to purchase US dollars specifically for your trip to Japan, as the exchange rates favor the peso over the dollar (protip from us: purchase Japanese yen beforehand from BPI Forex or Sanry’s Money Changer!).
In the end, all it boils down to is how much you are willing to spend. Are you a frugal backpacker who prefers cheap (or free) activities, or an otaku nerding out on exclusive merchandise and premium figures? The latter will feel the pinch more than the former, but just do what makes you happy and it’s all good.