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5 Accommodation Options in Japan

David has been living in Japan for close to ten years. He loves reading, history, music, and movies. He lives with his wife and kids.

There are a lot of accommodation options in Japan, and sometimes it can be hard, daunting, and even frustrating to choose one. If you’re strapped for cash and are looking for affordable options then the following list can be a game-changer. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the ultimate Japanese accommodation experience and have the means to afford it, then this list can help you decide as well. Whatever your lodging budget might be, keep scrolling to find the best accommodation for you.

1. Ryokan

A trip to Japan wouldn’t be complete without staying at a traditional Japanese inn called a ryokan. Generally, they are more expensive than your standard hotel but if you’re looking for a legit Japanese experience then I recommend you to try them out for a night or two. You’ll be sleeping in a traditional tatami mat room with a futon—a thin mattress that is packed and stored away during the day. Most ryokans have Japanese traditional clothing like hakamas that you can wear throughout your stay.

There are a lot of ryokans in most Japanese cities, both big and small, and usually, the more modern ones have the cheaper rates. A low table where you sit on cushions to eat your meals is often the only piece of furniture.

There is an important detail that foreigners need to know about staying in a ryokan: BATHS. Many ryokans don’t have private baths and instead have communal baths where you leave your clothes in a basket and enter with only a tiny face towel—a cringeworthy but awesome experience. If you’re squeamish about the idea of taking a bath with strangers, you’re not alone. Most foreigners freak out during their first time but you’ll get used to it. Hopefully. Nevertheless, once you soak in the hot bath, it’ll be pure bliss.

2. Capsule Hotel

If you are willing to forgo a little bit of space and aren't claustrophobic, then a capsule hotel might be the best fit for you. These rooms are basically enclosed bunk beds that often include television, internet, reading light, alarm clock, and, of course, a bed. Toilets and bathrooms are shared and there are lockers where you can store your private belongings. Traditionally, capsule hotels are designed for local businessmen who missed their last train so most of these hotels are found around train stations.

A word of caution, due to safety and privacy issues, women are generally not allowed at these hotels. That said, if you're on a solo trip and don't have a lot of baggage then this option may be for you.

3. Internet/Manga Cafe

I only came to know about this option after staying in Japan for quite some time. Basically, these are establishments where you rent a computer cubicle hourly or for a night, and are provided with unlimited access to comic books, drinks, and shower facilities—sounds good? Some establishments even offer game rooms, a private resting area, communal baths, and in some cases, a bed.

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Most of these cafes have pretty comfortable chairs in their computer cubicles so if you’re OK with sleeping on a chair, then this may be a cheap and interesting option you might want to try. Comic books and unlimited soda—that’s a great deal right there. On the other hand, there are some establishments that have little to no privacy and have a “member before staying” rule, so it’s good to confirm the rules and regulations before staying.

4. Business Hotels

These hotels are often clustered around stations and offer simple Western-style rooms that are furnished with a bed, desk, TV, and a private bath. Most offer a breakfast option and are popular for those traveling in pairs. The rooms are clean, and usually include breakfast, and they're cheaper alternatives to standard Western-type hotels. If you're looking for cheap accommodation, but with a higher level of comfort, this is a good option. Popular chains include APA Hotel, Toyoko Inn, and Super Hotel.

Inside a typical business hotel

Inside a typical business hotel

5. Hostels

Hostels are great places to stay when you’re trying to save, no matter what country. Hostel-type accommodations tend to be visited by foreigners because of their sociable atmosphere. Although private rooms are available, most hostels offer shared rooms that are separated by gender, and provide shared facilities such as toilets, showers, and kitchens.

Be aware of the rules though as most hostels have curfews at night and some require their guests to register as members of a hostel association. If you want to try out Japan’s hostel community, you can check out Hostel World.

Some Tips

When you’re visiting the country, accommodation will be one of your biggest expenses so unless you stay at a friend’s or a relative’s—which I think is still the best way to save—you’ll want to check out the list. If you don’t have to worry about splurging on accommodation, then Japan has many luxury accommodations that you can choose from. But if you’re strapped for cash and are looking to cut back on your accommodation budget, then I recommend you check out these options.

Tip 1: It’s best to reserve your accommodation well in advance to take advantage of the early bird prices, especially when traveling during peak seasons. Also, note that most accommodations raise their prices during peak travel seasons, so keep that in mind.

Tip 2: Consider staying outside the city center. You’ll be amazed how different the accommodation prices are.

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