Japan has a wide range of accommodation options, including high-end traditional ryokan inns, homely minshuku, hotels, and hostels. Be warned that accommodation can get full very quickly, especially during peak season, weekends and holidays. Book as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Here we list the main different types of accommodation, and briefly explain what to expect:
Ryokan: traditional inns. Fantastic for a traveller wishing to experience the real Japan, and rest up like a weary aristocrat. Expect tatami mats, hot springs, futons and astonishing meals – and a bill to match. Be warned that ryokan charge per person rather than per room, so even if you are sharing with a number of friends, the bill will be massive, and many ryokan don’t offer rooms to lone travellers, so if you are travelling solo, it may be necessary to find alternative accommodation.
Minshuku: Minshuku is the name given to (usually) family-operated bed-and-breakfast establishments. Many of these do not have their own websites, but don’t let that put you off – minshuku provide some of the most welcoming accommodation in Japan. There is also the option of ‘experience stays’, such as at religious retreats or farmhouses – highly recommended as a chance to chat and dine with locals.
High-end Hotels: Here is where Japan is homogeneous with the rest of the world. A five-star hotel is much the same the world over, after all. Naturally, the 100 towns in this book are short on five-star accommodation, but if you really need to splurge on luxury, any nearby major city will undoubtedly provide such an option.
Standard Hotels: Many of the towns will have a reasonable, standard-priced hotel. Such accommodation provides excellent service and comfortable amenities, the price usually reflecting the popularity of the location.
Business Hotels: Even the smaller towns may have one or two of these, as the besuited, travelling Japanese salaryman can be found even in the remotest spots. A good budget option, with simple but sufficient amenities. Dining is rarely included in the price, so visitors are at liberty to explore the town for meal options. For non-claustrophobic travellers, capsule hotels are an even cheaper option in some larger towns.
Love Hotels: Do we need to explain these? While purpose-built for couples requiring romantic privacy, as an option for simple, reasonably priced accommodation, they can be quite sufficient. You may get a strange look if you enter alone, though.