From traditional wooden guesthouses to modern capsule hotels, Japan offers a diverse choice of accommodation for those visiting the country. You can select from social hostel settings or private apartment rentals, or opt for a homestay with a local family or a night in manga comic cafe. You might want to splurge on a luxury hotel or get back to basics at a Buddhist temple. Japan offers something to suit every style of traveler and their length of stay.
For those on a budget or looking for a social atmosphere, Japan’s hostels are a great option. They normally include self-catering kitchens, common areas to relax in, complimentary wifi and sometimes even laundry facilities and bicycle hire. The staff commonly speak English too so they can assist you with any logistical issues or insider tips about where to go and what to see.
Whether you want an affordable business hotel or a luxury international chain, Japan offers all kinds of options. Like their name suggests, business hotels are aimed at business people. And although they are very compact, they often come equipped with all the basic necessities like toothbrushes, soap, shampoo and towels. The more you spend, the more space, ambiance and facilities you’ll get at Japan’s hotels, including swimming pools, gyms and onsite bars and restaurants.
For a unique (and slightly quirky) Japanese experience, spend the night in a capsule hotel. These sleeping pods are just big enough to sleep in and come equipped with lights, alarms and complimentary wifi, while bathrooms are shared and lockers are provided for you to securely store luggage. Most capsule hotels are exclusively for men, although there are a few that allow women to stay in separate areas.
In recent years, holiday rental sites like AirBnb have taken the world by storm and Japan is no exception. Renting out your space for private lodging is known as minpaku. You can easily book private apartments or rooms in shared houses throughout the country, with a unique choice of styles and budgets to select from. It’s often more affordable for those looking to stay long-term and provides a home-away-from-home where you can self-cater.
Although house sitting isn’t widespread in Japan, there are a number of international sites where you can register to look after someone’s property in exchange for a free stay. It might involve looking after their pets while they are away or just keeping an eye on things. House sitting does mean fitting in with someone else’s schedule, but if you have flexible, long-term travel plans, then it can be a great option to help keep costs down.
Ryokan are traditional inns (often associated with onsen hot spring towns) and while expensive, they are worth it for the authentic Japanese experience and kaiseki hospitality they offer. Minshuku are more basic, family-run bed and breakfasts, usually with shared bathrooms and without modern perks like wifi. Both usually include authentic Japanese meals that are an experience in and of themselves and minimalist furnishings that include traditional futon bedding on tatami mat floors.
For those interested in Japan’s Buddhist culture, a number of temples open their doors to visitors wanting to spend the night and learn about their traditional rituals and customs. The sleeping quarters are basic, with futons laid out on tatami mat floors and shared bathroom facilities. The meals are served communally and usually vegetarian in keeping with Buddhist principles, and you’re encouraged to participate with the monks in early morning chants and meditation.
If you want to experience life like a local, then you might want to consider a homestay, spending anywhere from a weekend up to a few months living with a Japanese family. It’s a great way to hone your language skills and get a better insight into how daily life works. Most homestay families have undergone some kind of screening to ensure your safety and their suitability to host foreigners.
If you’re visiting Japan with your partner, then why not treat yourself to a night in a love hotel. They’re designed for Japanese couples seeking a bit of privacy, with themed rooms and quirky decor to make them stand out. While they might sound sleazy, the quality of the rooms is great for the price and you can rent the rooms for anywhere from a few hours to an overnight stay.
Manga kissa are comic book cafes where young Japanese come to hang out and browse the web or play video games. Many now offer private cubicles with reclining chairs and computers which can be rented for the night, as well as shower facilities and cheap food and drinks. They are a great alternative to hostels for those on a budget, particularly if you want to binge on manga comics.
Kominka are traditional Japanese guesthouses often found nestled in the countryside, many of which are hundreds of years old. They are perfect for those seeking peace and tranquility within an architecturally impressive and rustic setting. Many kominka feature thatched roofs, Japanese cypress bathing tubs and sunken hearths known as irori, coupled with home-cooked cuisine featuring locally-sourced produce and regional specialties.