Many who travel to Japan are unaware of the dozens of lodging options available in the country; some think that there are only traditional hotels and Ryokan inns. Japan has more than 20 lodging options, which we will see in this article.
Ryokan - Traditional Japanese inns
Ryokan [旅館] are Japanese inns that maintain a traditional and cultural experience. In this accommodation, everything is traditional, from its structure to even the customs and environment. Traditional kaiseki and onsen food are available.
In these lodgings it is common to wear Yukata, be served in the room and even participate in a tea ceremony. Bedrooms are on tatami floor using futon. Ryokan often have gardens and structures that are reminiscent of Ancient Japan.
We recommend reading: Tatami - Discover the traditional Japanese floor
The big downside of these accommodations is the prices that can start at 20,000 yen and go over 100,000 yen. Despite the price, it is a unique experience that is worth having. If you want to know more read our article about Ryokan.
We recommend reading: Ryokan - The charming Japanese inns
Pensions - INNs - Small Inns
Pensions [ペンション] are those famous INNs that you find in RPG games. Japanese guesthouses usually offer dinner in addition to breakfast and are often run by small families.
Rooms are western-style based on European pensions. Pensions sometimes resemble Ryokans, they are large houses with numerous rooms and most of the time offering western food and low-cost rates.
Geshukuya [下宿屋] - Guesthouse They refer to Japanese boarding houses that also serve as accommodation, but a place where students separated from their parents usually live on rent for a low cost. They are traditional in the Japanese style being seen in anime like Love Hina.
Minshuku - Family Inns
Minshuku [民宿] - Guesthouse They are Japanese-style family inns. They offer visitors a good opportunity to meet local families and experience the traditional Japanese way of life. A cheap type of Ryokan that can be found for 5,000 yen.
Minshuku are typically located around tourist areas such as hot springs, ski resorts and in the mountains. They are also commonly found in small inland towns, villages or by the sea.
Read also: Perfect small towns in Japan to visit
Pensions tend to cost more than a Minshuku, so families who inherit or have a large Japanese-style house create their own accommodation. It can be considered a homestay/hostel.
The artigo is still half finished, but we recommend opening it to read the following later:
Shukubo - Accommodation at the temple
Long before the first Japanese hotel was built in the Edo Period. Japanese travelers always stayed in temples, and this tradition continues to this day. This type of hosting is called Shukubo [宿坊].
Staying in a temple can be a unique cultural experience. Some temples offer this option and even provide a Buddhist vegetarian meal (Shojin Ryori).
Nowadays this kind of traditional and religious experience can cost more than 8000 yen. It's worth remembering that the temple walls are thin, so you can't cause too much trouble in these holy places.
Capsule hotels are shared accommodation in a kind of round cubicle resembling a capsule. Some are futuristic and innovative with television and other entertainment media. They are cheap accommodation options and resemble hostels.
There are thousands of capsule hotels all over Japan. Some offer traditional onsen baths, rest and entertainment facilities, safes to store belongings and lockers to store other things. A night can cost from 500 to 3000 yen.
In the past, this type of accommodation was more common for men. Nowadays it is possible to find female hotels, with both sexes or even mixed floors. We also recommend reading our article on Capsule Hotels.
Hostels - Shared hosting
Hostels or hostels are cheap accommodation compared to hotels and inns, but the rooms are shared. Most hostels in Japan resemble capsule hotels, with thousands of beds on a single floor.
Prices and amenities are also similar. Most people who frequent hostels are usually students or travelers who want a cheap accommodation or just to spend their nights in a comfortable place.
There are also hostels of the residence type that are shared, the famous homemade hostels. A name for this popular type of guesthouse is GuestHouse [ゲストハウス].
Karaoke, Manga Café and Internet Café
In case you missed the last train, or don't have a better place to stay, some karaoke and Manga cafe permitem let you pass in the evening. Many young japanese they even live in these places or spend most of their time.
A night at a Cyber Café or Manga Café can cost around 3,000 yen, but it comes with a super internet, a huge collection of manga, all-you-can-eat juices and soft drinks, breakfast and even ice cream.
There are franchises that mix karaoke rooms with manga cafe, offering the best of both.
We recommend reading: Manga Kissa - Internet Café - Cheap Accommodation in Japan
Luxury hotels in Japan
Japan has a reputation for expensive accommodation because of these luxury hotels that can fool some. They are great hotels, but the owners take advantage of the fact that the Japanese rarely take vacations to put the knife in their luxury hotels.
These are giant hotels that stand out in their locality and even offer sleepwear. Prestigious hotels with a gigantic lobby, which has an elegant western style. Featured name, stars, and size drive your prices up.
Luxury hotels in Japan can be affordable from 30,000 yen, but some easily exceed 100,000 yen. The cheap and luxurious Park Hyatt Tokyo, for example, offers a standard double room for a ludicrous 70,000 yen.
Love Hotel - Japanese Motel
Love Hotel can be found all over Japan and, as the name suggests, exist primarily to allow couples to have some private time together. It's the same equivalent to Brazilian motels, but with its own special charm.
For many, the concept of motels still sounds unpleasant, but in Japan it is practical, as most young people live with their parents and grandparents. Despite their initial goal, many end up staying at a Love Hotel just to sleep.
Many of these Rabu Hoteru [ラブホテル] charge for two or three hours, but it is possible to extend. The “love hotel” rooms have a flamboyant structure and fantasy that can be chosen from many options at the entrance when booking the room.
Bussines Hotel - Business Hotels
Business hotels are the opposite of traditional guesthouses. They are modern, functional but bland, this is just a cheap hotel for an overnight stay, not a place of relaxation and vacation.
Rooms are generally small and minimalist, with the bed taking up most of the floor space, and a tiny private bathroom in each room. It's the closest thing we have to cheap hotels in Brazil.
Business hotel single rooms usually cost from ¥5,000 to ¥10,000, including breakfast. I've personally stayed in hotels with large rooms and a bathtub for less than 2,000 yen, close to a train station in Hakone. I don't know if it's worth it.
Accommodation at Onsen - Super Sento
Most Ryokan are onsen, but not all onsen are Ryokan. Did you know that some Japanese hot springs, both natural and sento, are popular targets for Japanese to spend the night? Even those that don't offer sleeping facilities are popular lodging destinations.
Some of these onsen offer yukata right at the entrance, lounges with comfortable reclining armchairs, mats to lie on, and various relaxation and food options are available on site. You can tell there's always someone sleeping in an onsen.
Although there are expensive bathrooms, some are as cheap as other conventional accommodations. If you've never spent the night in a bathroom, try at least one day. I spent much of my trip in Japan in the sit and onsen.
Read also: 7 onsen to visit in Japan
Accommodation in Trains
The Japanese sleep so much on trains that there are some types of trains that offer accommodation. Even with the existence of the bullet train, there are some rare night lines that offer sleeping places, or else you can just sleep on empty trains.
Read also: Inemuri - Japanese napping in public places
Accommodation on the trains caters for a wide range of prices and corresponding levels of comfort. Many night trains have seats, but a much more attractive budget option is the traditional Japanese option of sleeping on the floor.
Some trains also offer shared cabins with bunk beds and private single or double rooms. Some even have bathrooms and other perks of traditional hotels. Some trains that offer accommodation are called Cassiopeia, Nihonkai, Sunrise, but some have already been deactivated.
Doya - Simple and Cheap Hosting
Doyagai [ドヤ街] - Doya is the name given to simple accommodation in the suburbs and slums, neighborhoods where day laborers gather like Kamagasaki, Yamatani and others, these neighborhoods are constantly called Doya city for their large number of accommodation.
We recommend reading: Kamagasaki – All about Japan's Biggest Favela
Kiyado [木賃宿] - Untranslatable It literally means renting wood, it is a private facility where you can stay for a very low price, without meals and with an advance accommodation fee. The doya can be considered a kind of Kiyado.
Many Japanese people literally lived in a Doya until they found a job and left. Rooms were shared or private with a tatami space. With renovations and the emergence of other types of accommodation, today it is impossible to distinguish a doya from other cheap accommodations.
Rider House - Motorcycle Lodging
A Rider House [ライダーハウス] is a relatively simple accommodation that mainly targets travelers like motorbikes and bicycles, and there is no clear definition of the way of management, but they are usually run by local volunteers.
Most of them are male-female shared rooms, and sleeping bags are used. Most facilities are exempt from commercial inn legislation for not providing bedding.
Prices are cheaper than inns, guesthouses and hostels, sometimes even zero. Some restaurants and souvenir shops allow you to stay overnight if eating or shopping. These houses are mostly found in Hokkaido.
Tankin Chintai - Weekly Mansion
Tankin Chintai are short-term rental mansions, usually weeks or months, for the purpose of staying in for a while. Prices are cheaper than hotels and condos. It is very similar to AirBNB houses.
Read also: Days, Months and Years in Japanese
The number of beds varies from single to double with some perks and appliances installed, it is usually used for long term business trips and short term use by single people.
Weekly and monthly differences are classified primarily by the number of contract days. There are cases where the hospitality industry has been licensed and cases where it is treated as a rental home. Refers to long periods of discounted hosting.
Other Japanese Accommodations
There are other Japanese accommodations that we didn't go into in detail, probably because it's a category that has already been covered by some of the previous ones. This could be a second name or a category of accommodation in Japan.
Couchsurfing – Website that allows you to find accommodation in the home of native families for free. There are other sites and ways to get homestay accommodation. We recommend reading our article on HomeStay.
WWOOF Japan – a kind of agricultural exchange where people receive accommodation and food to work together with Japanese farmers for about 6 hours a day. There are similar programs like helpx.net and workaway.info;
Kokuminshukusha [国民宿舎] – An accommodation and rest facility built in some natural park, national resort or natural recreation area. A cheap and affordable option for everyone.
To camp – You can just pack a tent and camp in some forest or mountain, there are specific places to camp that are free or paid.
Dormitory [ドミトリー] – Dorms can be rooms, shared rooms in a hostel, guest house, mountain cabin houses. The original meaning is literally "a place to sleep".
Roomshare [ルームシェア] – Means that a house is shared (ie rented or shared together) with other people who do not have a family or romantic relationship.
Kappo Ryokan – A venue that serves multi-course meals for dinner. Also called a cooking inn.
My Experience with Cheap Accommodation
Finally, I'll leave you a video about cheap accommodation in Japan and my little experience with them. Unfortunately this video is a bit old, I had many other experiences involving a Cheap Ryokan, Internet Café and a great Hostel in Ueno.
We also recommend reading: Cheap accommodations in Japan
Hope you enjoyed this great guide! If you liked it, share it with your friends and leave your comments.