Japan Accommodation Styles: - Hotels, Ryokan, Love Hotels, Capsule Hotels, Shukubo, Kokuminshukusha and Youth Hostels. Japanese Style Accommodation.

 In addition to the usual youth hostels and business hotels, you can find several kinds of uniquely Japanese accommodation: ryokan, minshuku, kokuminshukusha, shukubō, capsule hotels and love hotels.

When reserving any Japanese accommodations, bear in mind that many smaller operations may hesitate to accept foreigners, fearing language difficulties or other cultural misunderstandings. This is to some extent institutionalized: large travel agency databases note which (few) hotels are prepared to handle foreigners, and they may tell you that all lodgings are booked if only these are full! Instead of calling up in English, you may find it better to get a Japanese acquaintance or local tourist office to make the booking for you.

Japan Accommodation - Hotels

Business hotels or international/Western style hotels, usually around ¥10,000 per night, have convenient location (often near major train stations). Luxury hotels, on the other hand, turn pampering into an art form, but room charges tend to start at ¥20,000. For detail information and online booking in English see our Japan Hotel guide.

Japan Accommodation Ryokan

Japan Accommodation - RyokanRyokan (旅館) are traditional Japanese inns, and a visit to one is the highlight of many a trip to Japan. See detailed article on Ryokan.


Japan Accommodation - Kokuminshukusha

Kokuminshukusha (国民宿舎), a mouthful that translates quite literally into "People's Lodges", are government-run guest houses. They primarily provide subsidized holidays for government employees in remote scenic spots, but are usually happy to accept paying guests. Both facilities and prices are usually more comparable to ryokan than minshuku standards; however, they are almost invariably large in size and can be rather impersonal.

Japan Accommodation - Shukubo

Shukubō (宿坊) are lodgings for pilgrims, usually (but not always) located within a Buddhist temple or Shinto Shrine. Again, the experience is broadly similar to a ryokan, but the food will be vegetarian and you may be offered a chance to participate in the temple's activities. Shukubo can be reluctant to accept foreign guests, but one place where this won't be a problem is the major Buddhist center of Mt. Koya near Osaka.

Japan Accommodation - Capsule Hotels

Capsule hotels are the ultimate in space-efficient sleeping: for a nominal fee (often under ¥2000), the guest rents himself a capsule, sized about 2x1x1 meters and stacked in two rows inside a hall containing tens if not hundreds of capsules. Capsule hotels are invariably segregated by gender and only a few cater to women.

On entry to a capsule hotel, take off your shoes, place them in a locker and put on a pair of slippers. You will often have to surrender your locker key at check-in to insure that you do not slip out without paying! On checking in you will be give a second locker for placing your belongings, as there is no space for them in the capsule and little security as most capsules have simply a curtain, not a door.

Many if not most capsule hotels are attached to a spa of varying degrees of luxury and/or dubiosity, often so that entry to the spa costs (say) ¥2000 but the capsule is only an additional ¥1000. Other, cheaper capsule hotels will require feeding in 100-yen coins even to get the shower to work. This being Japan, there are always vending machines on hand to dispense toothpaste, underwear and such sundries.

Once you retire into your capsule, you will usually find a simple control panel for operating the lights, the alarm clock and the inevitable built-in TV. Sweet dreams! But don't oversleep or you may be hit with another day's charge.

In Tokyo's Shinjuku and Shibuya districts the capsule hotels run at least ¥3500, but have excellent free massage chairs, saunas, public baths, disposable razors and shampoo, magazines, and coffee in the morning. Despite all that, keep in mind that your capsule "door" is just a curtain that keeps light out. You will likely hear a steady stream of drunk and sleepy business men crawling into their capsules above and across from you before falling into a mild snore.

Japan Accommodation - Love Hotels

Love hotel is a bit of a euphemism, the more accurate term would be love making hotel. They can be found in and near red light districts, but most are not in those areas. Many of them are often clustered around highway interchanges or main train stations out of the city and back to the suburbs. Basically you can rent a room by the night (listed as "Stay" on the rate card), the hour ("Rest"), or off hours ("No Time Service") which are usually weekday afternoons.

Japan Youth hostels

Youth hostels (ユースホステル yūsu hosteru, often just called yūsu or abbreviated "YH") can be comparatively expensive in Japan, especially if you opt for dinner and breakfast and are not a HI member, in which case the price for a single night may be over ¥5000. As elsewhere, some are concrete cellblocks run like reform schools, while others are wonderful cottages in scenic spots. There are even a number of temples that run hostels as a sideline. Do some groundwork before choosing where to go, the Japan Youth Hostel page is a good place to start. Many have curfews.

Japan Camping

Camping is the cheapest way to get a night's sleep in Japan. There is an extensive network of camping grounds throughout the country, although naturally most are away from the big cities and information in English is sparse. Transportation to them can also be problematic, as few buses may go there. Most charge only nominal fees (¥200-500).

Camping wild is illegal in most of Japan, although you can always try to ask for permission or simply pitch your tent late and leave early. Many larger city parks may in fact have large numbers of blue tarp tents with homeless in them.

Japan Accommodation - Nojuku

For the real budget traveller wanting to get by on the cheap in Japan is the option of nojuku (野宿). This is Japanese for "sleeping outside", and although it may seem quite strange to westerners, a lot of young Japanese do this when they travel. Thanks to a low crime rate and relatively stable climate, nojuku is a genuinely viable option if you're travelling in a group or feel confident doing it on your own. Common nojuku places include train stations, michi no eki (road service stations), or basically anywhere that has some kind of shelter and public toilets nearby.

Those worrying about shower facilities will be delighted to know that Japan is blessed with cheap public facilities pretty much everywhere - notably Onsen, or hot springs. Even if you can't find an Onsen, sento (public baths), or sauna are also an option.

Bear in mind nojuku is only really viable in the summer months, although in the northern island of Hokkaido even in summer the temperature may dip during the night. On the other hand, there's much more scope for nojuku on Okinawa (although public facilities on the smaller islands are lacking).

Nojuku is not really recommended for first-time travellers to Japan, but for those with some experience, it can be a great way to get into the 'Onsen' culture, meet other fellow nojuku travellers, and most of all travel very cheaply when coupled with hitchhiking.

(Article based on Wikitravel article by Based on work by Brian Kurkoski, Mitch Sako, Paul N. Richter, Rene Malenfant, Evan Prodromou, Ryan, Jose Ramos, Namgay Dorji, David Zentgraf, Bujdos Attila, Niels, Richard Petersen, Craig Fryer, Sat.K, Ted O'Neill and Yann Forget and Wikitravel user(s) Nightingale, Jpatokal, WindHorse, Maj, Sekicho, Ravikiran r, Littleblackpistol, Cjensen, PierreAbbat, MMKK, Historian, Nzpcmad, KagakuyaSan, Mark, Bijee, InterLangBot, Chris j wood, Nils, Joi, MykReeve, Huttite, Dhum Dhum, ?, Luke, Karen Johnson and CIAWorldFactbook2002.  Article used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0.)

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