Traveling in Japan doesn’t have to be expensive, even in regards to finding a place to sleep. Last time, I introduced 10 Free (or Very Cheap) Accommodations in Japan, and this time, I wanted to introduce 10 more cheap accommodations for your budget trip to Japan.
1. Love Hotels
Price: 6,000 yen and up per room per night
The infamous love hotels of Japan make for an interesting place to stay the night. Since love hotels are aimed at couples looking to for a place to well, you know, love hotels typically charge by the hour or have “specials” for a night. Many love hotels run at around 6,000 yen or more per night (but if you stay with a “friend,” that’s only 3,000 yen per person!), so they might not be the best option for budget travelers, but, with their charming (some might say “gaudy”) theme rooms, it is guaranteed to be an experience. Check out Shibuya’s Dogenzaka, known as Love Hotel Hill, in Tokyo for some love hotel action, or check out Japan’s Love Hotels website.
2. Rental Offices
Price: Around 500 yen per hour
Rental offices typically charge for the hour (around 500 yen per hour) and are aimed at business men who need a quick, temporary place to set up office. However, some Japanese websites suggest that these are good places for sleeping on a budget. Check out Tsukasa Rental Office and Tsukasa Netroom for examples.
3. Guest houses
Price: 30,000 yen per month and up
Well known among foreign residents in Japan, guest houses accommodations offer a budget option, particularly for those staying a little more long term, at 30,000 yen per month and up. Indeed, many guest houses are aimed at foreigners, which is why these accommodations are sometimes known as gaijin houses (“gaijin” means foreigner in Japanese). Some hostels also function as guest houses, and there are many similarities, such as shared kitchens and bathrooms, and sometimes shared rooms. See the Japan Guide website for some more information about guest houses, Gaijin House Japan or Guest House Bank for guest house listings, or check out Sakura House, one of the more well-known guest houses.
Price: About 4,000 yen per night and up
Ryokan are traditional Japanese inns, which are sometimes compared to bed and breakfast inns. While are there many expensive ones, some of the cheaper ones can start around 4,000 yen per night. Ryokan, which are traditional Japanese inns, and minshuku, a type of “budget” ryokan which is family run hotel (sort of like a pension), are often mixed up, especially since the lines are blurring between them. If you are interested in the differences, see Japan Cheap Travel for a run-down of how ryokan and minshuku are different. To make things more confusing, ryokan are sometimes called “Japanese guest houses,” which can make them easy to mix up with the aforementioned gaijin houses, and some ryokan call themselves hostels on their English websites. Don’t let this confusion scare you away from ryokan; take a look at Japanese Guest Houses for listings of ryokan around Japan.
Price: About 3,000 yen per night and up
As mentioned before, minshuku are like budget ryokan. They are run by families and often serve breakfast and dinner, much like bed and breakfasts or pensions. It’s a great way to meet a local Japanese family, as the inn usually doubles as the family’s home, and a great way to experience the Japanese lifestyle. See the Minshuku Network website for some listings of minshuku.
6. Temple Lodging
Price: 3,000 yen per night
Shukubo, the Japanese term for temple lodging, is a lovely, budget way to see another side of Japan. You’ll get to meet the temple monks, eat traditional vegetarian Buddhist monk fare, and you’ll sometimes have the option to participate in zazen, meditation, or other activities. Like ryokan, there are some more expensive temple lodgings, but a few start around 3000 yen a night. See this Temple Lodging website for a comprehensive listing of temples that offer shukubo.
7. Business Hotels
Price: 5,000 yen per night and up
Often western style, business hotels can be quite cheap, depending on the hotel or chain. The rooms are usually fairly small, but have many of the amenities, such as TVs, private restrooms, and even yukata (basically sleeping or bathrobes). They are a bit on the higher end of “budget,” typically starting around 5,000 yen per night. My favorite business hotel is Toyoko Inn, which has special prices and deals for foreign travelers, but check out the Business Hotel Guide or utilize your favorite search engine to find a place which suits you.
8. Karaoke Box
Price: Around 500 yen per hour per person
One of the more nontraditional places to sleep, but probably a place a large amount of Japanese have stayed at least one night, is a karaoke box. Karaoke in Japan is still very popular, and it is quite different from karaoke in the US. In Japan, karaoke is a friend’s and coworker’s-only affair where you rent a room in a karaoke building that is equipped with karaoke equipment. You can then sing your heart out, or, alternatively, sleep. You can rent a karaoke box for about 500 yen an hour or so per person (and, of course, there are specials for weekdays and longer stays). So, if you are able to ignore the drunken “singing” coming from the rooms next to you, then a karaoke box might be the place for you.
9. Weekly/Monthly Apartment Rentals
Price: 25,000 per month and up
Short-term apartment rentals, sometimes called weekly mansions (“mansion” is the Japanese word for apartment), are a budget option for travelers staying two weeks or more in Japan, starting at 25,000 yen per month. Many short-term rental apartments probably won’t be near tourist areas, so they might be more suitable for business travelers, but if you find a good price and good rental company, it will probably be difficult to beat the value.
10. Riders’ Houses
Price: 500 yen to 8,000 yen per night
Riders’ houses are extremely cheap lodgings aimed at motorcyclists and bicyclists looking for a place to stay on the road. The average price seems to be from 800 yen to 1500 yen per night, so this is one of the cheapest places to stay on the list. The majority tend to be open during the warmer seasons, from May to October. Unfortunately, they are rather difficult to access, though, since they are in remote areas traversed mainly by bikers, and there aren’t many advertisements for them in English. If you can read Japanese, the Bike Ryoko website is a great resource to find Riders’ Houses. For some information in English, see the Gaijin Bikers in Japan website. The two riders’ houses reservation websites I was able to find in English were the website for Aso Rider House in Kumamoto Prefecture and Rider House Joyful in Nagano Prefecture.
To make this a blogger’s 10 list (kind of like a “baker’s dozen”), here is one extra budget accomodation:
Onsen, public baths, and other sauna in Japan are popular places for Japanese to relax. As such places of relaxation, many of them have resting areas which are equipped with a couch, pillows, or thin sleeping mattress. Admission to sauna are on average from 300 yen per person to 1500 yen per person. Check with the sauna staff about the resting area in the bath house. See the TimeOut Tokyo website for the top Tokyo onsen.
I hope this entry has given you some ideas about places to stay in Japan on a budget. Be sure to let me know in the comments if I missed anything!
Photo by: xaxor