Many who travel to Japan are unaware of the dozens of accommodation options that exist in the country, some think that there are only traditional hotels and Ryokan inns. Japan has more than 20 accommodation options that we will see in this article.
Ryokan - Traditional Japanese inns
Ryokan [旅館] are Japanese guesthouses that maintain a traditional and cultural experience. In this accommodation everything is traditional, from its structure to the customs and environment. Traditional kaiseki and onsen food are available.
In these accommodations it is common to dress yukata, be served in the room and even participate in a tea ceremony. The rooms are on the floor tatami using futon. Ryokans usually have gardens and structures that resemble Ancient Japan.
The big disadvantage of these accommodations is the prices that can start from 20,000 yen and exceed 100,000 yen. Despite the price, it is a unique experience that is worth having. If you want to know more read our Ryokan article.
Pensions - INNs - Small Hostels
Hostels [ペンション] are those famous INNs that you find in RPG games. Japanese pensions usually offer dinner in addition to breakfast and are usually run by small families.
The rooms are Western-style based on pensions in Europe. The pensions sometimes resemble the Ryokans, they are large houses with innumerable rooms and that most of the time offer western food and low cost rates.
Geshukuya [下宿屋] - Refers to Japanese pensions that also serve as accommodation, but a place where students separated from their parents usually live rented at a low cost. They are traditional in the Japanese style and are seen in anime such as Love Hina.
Minshuku - Hostels
Minshuku [民宿] are Japanese-style family inns. They offer visitors a good opportunity to meet local families and experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle. A cheap type of Ryokan that can be found for 5,000 yen.
Minshuku are usually 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.
Pensions are usually more expensive than Minshuku, so families who inherit or own a large Japanese-style house create their own accommodation. It can be considered a homestay/inn.
Shukubo - Temple accommodation
Long before the first Japanese hotel was built in the Edo Period. Japanese travelers always stayed in the temples, and that tradition continues today. 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 offer a vegetarian Buddhist meal (Shojin Ryori).
Nowadays, this type of traditional and religious experience can cost more than 8000 yen. Remember that the walls of the temple are thin, so you can’t cause too much trouble in these sacred places.
Capsule hotels are shared accommodation in a kind of capsule-like round cubicle. Some are futuristic and innovative with television and other entertainment. They are cheap accommodation options and are similar to hostels.
There are thousands of capsule hotels scattered throughout Japan. Some offer traditional baths in onsen, places of rest and entertainment, safes to store belongings and lockers to store other things. One night can cost 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 the Capsulas Hotels.
Hostels - Shared Hosting
Hostels (hosuteru) are cheap accommodation compared to hotels and hostels, but 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 of the people who attend the hostels are usually students or travelers who want a cheap accommodation or just to spend the nights in a comfortable place.
There are also shared residence hostels, the famous home-made hostels. A name for this type of popular hostel 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 mango coffee allow you to spend the night. Many young japanese they even live in those places or spend most of their time.
A night in a Cyber Café or Manga Café can cost about 3,000 yen, but it comes with a super internet, a huge collection of manga, juices and soft drinks at will, breakfast and even ice cream.
There are franchises that mix karaoke with manga coffee, offering the best of both. If you want to know more about this type and accommodation, read our article on Manga Kissa.
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 that the Japanese rarely take a vacation to put the knife in their luxury hotels.
They 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. Name, stars and prominent size raise their prices.
Luxury hotels in Japan can have affordable rates starting at 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 an absurd 70,000 yen.
Love Hotel - Japanese Motel
The Love Hotel can be found throughout Japan and, as the name suggests, exist mainly to allow couples to have some private time together. It is the same equivalent to motels in Brazil, but with its special charm.
For many, the concept of motels sounds unpleasant, but in Japan it is something practical, since most young people live with their parents and grandparents. Despite their initial goal, many end up staying in 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 rooms of the love hotel have a structure and flashy 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 inns. They are modern, functional but bland, it is just a cheap hotel to spend the night, it is not a place for relaxation and holidays.
The rooms are generally small and minimalist, with the bed taking up almost all of the floor space, and a tiny private bathroom in each room. It is the closest to cheap hotels in Brazil.
The individual rooms of the business hotels usually cost from ¥ 5,000 to ¥ 10,000, including breakfast. I personally have stayed in hotels with large rooms and baths for less than 2,000 yen, close to a train station in Hakone. I don't know if it pays off.
Onsen Accommodation - Super Sento
Most Ryokans are onsens, but not all onsens are Ryokans. Did you know that some Japanese hot springs, both natural and sit, are popular targets for Japanese people to spend the night? Even those that do not offer sleeping places are popular accommodation destinations.
Some of these onsen offer yukata at the entrance, rooms with comfortable tilting armchairs, tatami mat 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 have never spent a night in a bathroom, try to try at least one day. I spent a large part of my trip in Japan in sit and onsen.
The Japanese sleep so much on trains that there are some types of trains that offer accommodation. Even with the bullet train, there are some rare night lines that offer sleeping places, or else you can just sleep on empty trains.
The accommodations on the trains meet a wide range of prices and corresponding levels of comfort. Many night trains have seats, but a much more attractive economic 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 baths and other perks of traditional hotels. Some trains that offer accommodation are called Cassiopeia, Nihonkai, Sunrise, but some have already been disabled.
Doya - Simple and Cheap Accommodation
Doyagai [ドヤ街] or Doya - Name given to simple accommodation in suburbs and slums, neighborhoods where day laborers gather as Kamagasaki, Yamatani and others, these neighborhoods are constantly called the city doya for its large number of accommodation.
Kiyado [木賃宿] - 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 literally lived in a doya until you find a job and leave the place. The rooms were shared or private with a tatami space. With the reforms and the emergence of other types of accommodation, today it is impossible to distinguish a doya from other cheap accommodations.
Rider House - Motorcyclist Accommodation
a Rider House [ライダーハウス] is a relatively simple accommodation that mainly targets travelers such as motorcycles and bicycles, and there is no clear definition of the form of management, but they are usually administered by local volunteers.
Most of them are rooms shared between men and women, and sleeping bags are used. Most facilities are exempt from commercial inn legislation because they do not provide bedding.
Prices are cheaper than hostels, pensions and hostels, sometimes even zero. Some restaurants and souvenir shops allow you to stay overnight if you eat or shop. These houses are usually found mainly in Hokkaido.
Tankin Chintai - Weekly Mansion
Tankin Chintai are short-term rental mansions, usually weeks or months, for the purpose of staying for a while. Prices are cheaper than hotels and condominiums. It resembles AirBNB houses a lot.
The number of beds varies from single to double with some perks and appliances installed, it is generally used for long-term business trips and short-term use by single people.
Weekly and monthly differences are classified mainly 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 accommodation.
Other Japanese Accommodation
There are other Japanese accommodations that we did not go into detail, probably because it is a category that has already been covered by some of the previous ones. It may be a second name or category of accommodation in Japan.
Couchsurfing - Site that allows you to find accommodation at the home of native families for free. There are other websites and ways to get homestay. We recommend reading our article on HomeStay.
WWOOF Japan - kind of agricultural exchange where people receive lodging and food to work with Japanese farmers 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 a natural park, national resort or natural recreation area. A cheap and affordable option for everyone.
To camp - You can simply set up a tent and camp in some forest or mountain, there are specific places for camping that are free or paid.
Dormitory [ドミトリー] - Dorms can be rooms, shared rooms in a hostel, guest house, mountain hut houses. The original meaning is literally "a place to sleep".
Roomshare [ルームシェア] - It means that a house is shared (that is, rented or shared together) with others who do not have a family or romantic relationship.
Kappo Ryokan - A place that serves multi-course meals for dinner. Also called a culinary inn.
My experience with Cheap Accommodation
To finish, I will leave a video about cheap accommodation in Japan and my little experience with them. Unfortunately this video is a little old, I had many other experiences involving a Cheap Ryokan, Internet Café and a great Hostel in Ueno.
We recommend reading our article talking about the cheap accommodation in Japan. I hope you enjoyed this great guide! If you liked it, share it with friends and leave your comments.