When traveling abroad, most people have this natural habit of booking a hotel room. In Japan, I would recommend you a specific type of hotel called 'ryokan'. Typical, welcoming and not necessarily more expensive than western hotels, it's definitely a solution you should look into, at least in the context of a short stay. There's also the ‘minshuku’ type derived from the ryokan, in which meals are served in your room, but where rates are sometimes higher.
There's another solution which is not necessarily much used, and that's a shame: I’m thinking about apartment or house vacation rental in Japan. During the last decade, regardless of my travel destination, I've always booked this type of accommodation. There are several reasons behind this choice:
- I enjoy feeling far from home, but I love the intimacy and autonomy offered by the house or apartment over the hotel, and it makes much more sense to me living the local way.
- It's pretty much the most convenient, most user-friendly and less expensive accommodation type when traveling with family or friends. It offers more room and can provide separate bedrooms under the same roof.
- Having access to a private kitchen means you avoid having to go to a restaurant twice a day for a few weeks, which can be as expensive as tiring.
- The household belongs to you during your stay; you do not need to leave half of your life inside your luggage and no one comes to make your bed the second you’re out of the room.
- Renting a house in Japan is not necessarily expensive, as I'm going to show you.
In many countries, it's easy to find companies and websites which rent houses or apartments. In Japan, this is unfortunately not as simple. The country has a tradition of 'mistrust' in renting to foreigners, and if you don't have a big budget, it may be quite difficult to find what you're looking for.
I've tried a few of these companies and several rentals in Japan, and here's the one I definitely recommend: Japan Experience. They offer great service solution at really cheap prices, and they speak English. Their apartments and houses are stunning for most of them : of varying sizes, for short stays up to several weeks.
Here's what Japan Experience house rental service provides:
- A large selection: 20 houses in Kyoto and 4 in Tokyo which can accommodate groups of 2 to 6 people.
- Cheap rates regarding such a service in Japan: from $80 per night.
- A 'travel angel' from Japan Experience welcomes you in English upon your arrival: visits the Japanese house with you and explains how everything works, discovers the neighborhood together with your group...
- Varied location in the cities: for example in Kyoto, you can choose between the bustling Gion, or live in a more zen way around the Philosopher's Path.
- Choose your type of rooms: Western style with a bed or Japanese style with futon on a tatami floor.
- Houses are all equipped with Internet access via Wi-Fi and air conditioning.
- Household linen and facilities such as: washing machine, dryer, iron, hair dryer, toaster, coffee maker, rice cooker...
- Rental period starting from 4 nights.