Japan has so many different kinds of accommodation to offer, it can seem overwhelming at first. From first-class Western style hotels, to quirky hostels, traditional inns, and capsule accommodation, the options vary widely in terms of style and price. Here`s a little guide to get you started.
An inexpensive option for accommodation is staying in a hostel. Shared dorm rooms are generally 2,500-3,500 yen per night. Shared public facilities in hostels offer excellent opportunities to meet other travellers, and many hostel owners are a great source of local information. Here are some links:
- Japan Youth Hostels
- Hostel World
- Hostel Bookers
- K`s House – hostels in Tokyo, Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, Hiroshima, Nagano, Kanazawa, Hakone
- KHAOSAN – hostels in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hokkaido, Kanazawa, Atami
- J-Hoppers – hostels in Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Takayama
For a more authentic experience you can try staying in a ryokan (旅館) or traditional Japanese inn. Ryokan rates can vary from budget (around 5,000 yen) to full-on luxury (over 40,000 yen) per person per night. Often this fee includes traditional meals and facilities like onsen (hot spring) baths. Extreme budget ryokan are unlikely to offer little more than a tatami room and shared washroom facilities, so if you are looking for the “real” Japanese hospitality experience, it is worth paying more. It`s easy to make bookings through a reservation website – the two below offer competitive rates and English information:
- Japanican – the English website of JTB.
- Japanese Guesthouses – detailed information and good coverage of rural areas.
Reservations can also be made by directly contacting the ryokan through their website or phone, but probably not in English. Moreover, because food and room preparations need to be made, many establishments may be unable to accommodate same day reservations. If you decide to stay in a ryokan and are not familiar with Japanese etiquette for shoes, meals, bathing, etc., research before you go to ensure you have the best possible stay.
All cities in Japan have western-style hotels, ranging from luxury to business. You can book hotels through international reservations sites like booking.com and agoda.com. Business hotels can be conveniently located and reasonable, if you are travelling on a budget. Japan is famous for another kind of accommodation: capsule hotels. These are cheap and many have great accommodations. This is a good idea if you don’t mind using a locker room to store your things and sleeping in a small “capsule” with only a curtain separating you from the rest of your floor. Many capsule hotels only accept male guests, so be sure to check when booking.
Shukubo (宿坊) is an accommodation facility that is part of a temple or shrine. Originally only available to Buddhist monks, nowadays shukubo can be reserved by pilgrims and tourists. Accommodation is simple, but offer local vegetarian cuisine and the chance to join early-morning Buddhist services or Zazen meditation. You can stay at shukubo regardless of your beliefs, but some may have strict rules (e.g. early curfews, no alcohol, etc.), and it is important to respect and adhere to these. Shukubo charges are usually 6,000 – 10,000 yen per person per night. Koyasan in Wakayama prefecture is one of the most famous places to stay in a temple, but there are many temples around Shikoku offering shukubo facilities for pilgrims completing the 88-temple pilgrimage route.