Once you’ve got to Japan – or perhaps before you even fly – you’ll want to think about where to stay. As you’d expect, hotels range from the ultra-cheap to extremely expensive, with prices skewed in the bigger cities and Tokyo in particular. If you’re looking to travel around at a relatively low cost, though, there are three good options: business hotels, cheap ryokan (minshuku) and youth hostels.
In every Japanese city you’ll find at least one – and usually far more – of these inexpensive hotels, usually clustered around the JR train station. They’re cheap, mostly surprisingly comfortable, and easy to reserve – not that you’ll always need to. I’ve stayed in as many different chains as possible, as well as some independents, in order to rate them. Click here for details.
A ryokan is a Japanese inn – think tatami mats and futon on the floor rather than the western style accommodation of most business hotels. Many ryokan are quite formal, luxurious and expensive – especially in onsen towns – but cheaper ones also exist, and it’s worth staying in a 和室 (washitsu – Japanese style room) at least once or twice. Click here for details.
I’m not particularly youthful anymore, and I guess I’m getting too old and grumpy for long periods of staying in noisy dormitories. But in Japan – and in the countryside in particular – I’ve found a few brilliant, quiet hostels that were a pleasure to stay in – that’s one in the photo above. Click here for details.