It’s time to pick a place to stay but what is the best accommodation in Japan? Luckily Japan has so many different types of accommodation on offer to suit all budgets. When you’re planning it’s always good to look at all options, especially in peak seasons if accommodation is booking out quickly.
Deciding on what is the best accommodation in Japan for your trip depends on the following factors:
- Customer Service
What I aim for is to have a medium level of all four factors. For example, I don’t mind staying in a hostel as long as it’s clean and I can have a private room. Think about what is important to you and this will help you decide the best accommodation.
Let’s discover the 14 different types of accommodation Japan has to offer!
Most hotels in Japan are ‘Western Style‘ meaning that they will have a framed bed instead of a futon on the ground. You can get relatively modest priced hotels in each of the cities with the bonus of concierge staff that can help you book tours etc. This option is best if you prioritise privacy and location!
We booked a hotel for one night when we were in Hirosaki because it was close to the station and it included breakfast. When you have just one-night stay in a city, a hotel can be an affordable and convenient option.
I recommend that you always try to book directly through the hotel instead of through third-party websites like Expedia.
I’ve heard too many nightmare stories of people going to check in and their booking doesn’t exist! Ask hotels if they have any discounts or packages for that season, sometimes you can snag a discount! Have a look at The Top 10 Budget Hotels in Japan!
- Easy to book
- Usually, have the best locations in cities
- Your own private room & bathroom
- Staff can assist you with your holiday
- Can get breakfast included
- Suited for a medium to high budget depending on quality of hotel
- Limited atmosphere for meeting other travellers
- Limited atmosphere to meet locals
Hostels in Japan are mostly clean and modern and make a perfect budget accommodation. I’ve stayed in hostels around the world and have to say that Japan had probably the best there is to offer. If you’re travelling solo you can save money by staying in a dorm room for around 2500 yen/$30AUD, or if you’re a frugal couple get a private room for around 8000yen/$100AUD a night. When I book a hostel I look for how close it is to the main sights and train stations. Sometimes hostels can be cheap but they are in the middle of nowhere!
- Great place to meet people (especially if travelling solo)
- Budget-friendly accommodation (even dirt cheap sometimes!)
- Activites and tours run through the hostel at a cheaper price
- Can get private rooms if you are travelling as a couple
- Try and book one that includes breakfast
- Cheaper the room, usually the further away the hostel is from sightseeing
- Hygiene/cleanliness can be an issue
- They can book out quickly due to being cheap
- Have to share facilities with other travellers
Kyoto – Piece Hostel Sanjo – This was the fanciest hostel I stayed in and had an amazing buffet breakfast.
Tokyo – Wise Owl Hostels – They have a pet owl that lives in Reception! They now have two locations; Shibuya & Hatchobori
AVOID!!! – Khaosan World Asakusa Ryokan & Hostel – This was the worst hostel I’ve ever stayed in. I don’t understand how it has such a high rating on Hostels.com. This place is an old, dingy converted love hotel. Our room was dark and mouldy and there was no atmosphere in the bar/kitchen area. I have a pretty good threshold for low budget places, but I can’t get past dirty!
Airbnb is a tricky one in Japan as it just became legal in June 2017, with some buildings banning Airbnb altogether. I totally understand it with private apartment buildings, it would feel uncomfortable for strangers to have access to your secure building every day! That being said Airbnb is a cheap option for travellers and provides extra accommodation during peak seasons.
We booked an Airbnb for Osaka because most of the private rooms in the hostels had been booked out (and this was 8 months in advance!). I saw on Airbnb that every apartment in this building had been listed, so I felt safe in booking the accommodation. Whilst there are always risks involved (we had our Airbnb in Hirosaki cancelled!) always read the reviews on Airbnb!
- Extra accommodation if hotels/hostels are booked out
- Can have the whole property to yourself
- Authentic feeling of living in that city
- Affordable price
- Access to facilities such as a washing machine and kitchen
- You can stay with locals and make friends
- Hosts can cancel your accommodation at anytime
- Some buildings have a ban on Airbnb
- Security issues – hosts have access to your accommodation when you’re there
- Sometimes the pictures don’t look like the actual accommodation!
Recommendation: If you want to experience what it’s like living in a Japanese apartment in Osaka then I definitely recommend the place we stayed at. Use my discount code to get $50.00AUD off your stay.
Ryokans, also known as Japanese Inns are the type of accommodation you need to try at least once on your trip. Staying at a traditional Ryokan you will be able to experience the epitome of Japanese hospitality. They go above and beyond in making sure you have a truly wonderful experience, such as making tea in your room or making a big warm bath for you to soak in.
Ryokans can definitely be on the pricier side depending on how highly they’re rated (some are around $1000 a night!) but there are affordable Ryokans in each city that you can stay in.
- Traditional experience
- The best hospitality
- Can experience kaiseki dinner or traditional breakfast
- Try out a Japanese style bath
- Attend a green tea ceremony
- For the medium to high budget
- No other cons, just try and stay at one!
5. Farm Stay
Many countries offer Farm Stays where you get to stay and help out on a working farm. I wanted to try a Farm Stay but unfortunately didn’t have the chance to. I find the idea appealing because you get to experience living in the Japanese countryside and connect with the nature around you. You also get to try the local food and help make dishes you probably can’t get in a restaurant! You can stay on a farm for around 4000yen/ $45AUD a night, pretty cheap and would definitely take you off the beaten path!
If you’re thinking about trying a Farm Stay in Japan, have a look over Authentic Japan Visits.
- Live with locals
- Explore the Japanese countryside
- Try local cuisine
- Unique experience
- Relatively cheap
- Have to travel far to get to the accommodation
- Only a select few farms offer Farm Stays
6. Capsule Hotel
Capsule Hotels are definitely something that is so unique to Japan, perfectly utilitarian and extremely affordable. Staying at one of these hotels is exactly what it sounds like, you stay in your own tiny capsule. The hotel will feature long rows of capsules, side by side and stacked up on top of each other. When staying here you will have somewhere to lock your luggage and a communal bathroom area. While the thought of sleeping in a sardine can isn’t too appealing to me you can get a capsule for as little as 3500yen/$40AUD a night. Want to take a look for yourself?
- Very cheap
- Good locations
- Unique Japanese experience
- Men and women’s sections are on different floors
7. Temple Lodging (Shukubo)
When I was doing my research planning my trip I came across Shukubo or Temple Lodgings. Many temples around Japan offer accommodation, where you are invited to participate in the Temple activities like prayer and meditation. Smaller, less known temples offer accommodation for around 4400yen/$50.00AUD a night, while more well-known temples like Koyasan will set you back around 10,000yen/$115AUD a night. Thinking of getting a taste for the Buddhist monk life? Check out more info here.
- Can get cheap lodgings
- Experience living like a Buddhist monk
- Can get vegetarian/vegan meals
- Very simple furnishings – no luxury or comfort
- Hard to book accommodation
8. Love Hotel
Love Hotels are probably the craziest accommodation you can stay in. Designed for couples who want to have some alone time away from the paper thin walls of their house, these hotels can be rented by the hour or overnight. Love Hotels are famous for their crazy decor and themes e.g Hello Kitty or Sci-Fi but actually have everything you need like a bathroom, food and free amenities. It might not be the most convenient accommodation (check-in for overnight starts at 10 pm) it is relatively affordable for around 8000yen/$100AUD a night. This is one of the funniest videos on what it’s like to stay in a Love Hotel!
- Crazy Japanese experience
- Affordable price
- Perfect for couples who love being surrounded by Hello Kitty
- Good for last minute accommodation
- Free amenities like toiletries, condoms etc
- Comfy beds and clean rooms (I’d hope so)
- If you want to stay overnight, can only check in after 10 pm
- The thought of knowing people come here to get jiggy
9. Manga Cafe
This is definitely an alternative form of accommodation in Japan. Manga Cafes are places you can go to get food and drinks while reading manga from their private library. For the more dedicated reader, you can hire private rooms which come with little fold out beds that you can lie down on and read. Even though Manga Cafes aren’t technically accommodation a lot of people in Japan use them when they need to stay overnight somewhere. If you’re looking for a cheap one-night accommodation then you could stay in a tiny private room for around 1700yen/$20AUD. Just remember there’s no showers and probably no room for luggage! If you are wanting to cosy up with some manga you can get more information here.
- Extremely cheap
- Great if you can read Japanese manga
- Emergency accommodation
- Private rooms are tiny
- Not actually a bed, just some foam
- No showers
10. Share House
Share Houses in Japan are suited for those looking at long-term accommodation (one month or more in a city). Sharehouses give you a room or apartment in a building that is designed for other long-term travellers. They usually feature communal areas like kitchens and lounge rooms to give you a chance to meet other people. This is a good alternative if you are planning long-term travel or working in Japan, it costs around 56,000 yen/$636.00AUD a month to stay. Have a look at some Share Houses here.
- Best suited for long-term travellers
- Great chance to meet other people
- Experience living in Japan
- More relaxed atmosphere
- Own private room
- Need to stay at least one month in the share house
11. Pension (Western Style Bed & Breakfast)
Pensions are Bed and Breakfast style accommodation that are usually run by families and are most popular in mountainous regions. Pensions are Western Style, meaning a framed bed and usually a Western-style breakfast. These places are simple with usually just a bed and a TV in your room. These are cheap alternatives if you are planning to stay in ski resort areas, they would only set you back 6000 yen/ $68AUD a night. If you’d be interested in saving some money then have a look here.
- Cheap accommodation
- Run by locals
- Western-style comforts
- Avoid paying expensive fees staying in a ski resort
- Difficult to book online
12. Minshuku (Japanese Style Bed & Breakfast)
Similar to Pensions these are Japanese Style Bed & Breakfasts. Minshukus are usually found in traditional buildings, run by local families. If you are wanting a chance to meet locals and learn more about everyday culture then this would be a great place to stay. Minshukus differ from Ryokans as they are a bit more conservative in decor and facilities. They are very affordable being around 5000 yen/ $56AUD a night, learn more about them here.
- Cheap prices
- Run by locals
- Experience staying in a Japanese home
- Hard to book online
13. Couch Surfing
Couch Surfing is a global movement for the frugal backpacker. The concept is quite simple, look online on CouchSurfing.com and look for a couch to crash on! I’ve never couch surfed before as I’ve never felt comfortable just sleeping on someone’s couch. If you’re brave and want to save your yen then you can always give it a go.
- Extremely cheap
- Meet locals and other travellers
- Safety for solo travellers
- Might not get your own bedroom, most likely sleep on someone’s couch
14. Internet Cafe
Very similar to Manga Cafes, Internet Cafes offer people hourly paid use of computers and internet. Most of these places have private rooms for browsing the internet, which can also double as emergency accommodation. There is a trend in Japan where young men actually live at the Internet Cafes! Even though there is a small fee to use a shower and no kitchen, staying overnight in one of these cubicles only cost around 2000 yen/$22AUD! If you want to know what it’s like to stay in one, read more here.
- Super extremely cheap
- Bonus internet!
- Convenient locations
- Tiny rooms
- Fee to use showers
- You might just end up browsing the internet all night instead of sleeping