Tokyo is a costly city. But it has enough options. For tourists coming in peak seasons of Spring and Autumn early booking is recommended. Sometimes there are packages available for train plus hotel at attractive rate. Tourists mostly flock to some well known foreigner friendly areas like Roppongi, Shibuya, Akasaka, Ikebukro, Azabu juban, Shinjuku, Asakusa, Ueno, Meguro. But one would suggest not to limit ones search to these areas only. This is because Tokyo itself is highly cosmopolitan, well connected and safe. Search the net. You may be overwhelmed at the sheer number of results thrown back by Google. So for guidance, listing some categories and options below.
If you are here for a few days…
This is specifically towards hotels and short term accommodations. If coming to stay for a longer term say for 2 months or more, then you should look up the other page in this site.
Japanese traditional hotels
For a traditional Japan stay, you have two options. You can stay at a Ryokan, which is a travelers inn of the olden days. Expect to find wooden floors with tatami mats, folding beds tucked neatly to unpack in the night and pack back up in the morning. Sliding doors that open into a wide veranda. A central low height table might be the only furniture in the room, with a single traditional vase in a corner. If you are tourist on a Japan discovery you can not miss this experience. Adding to the ambiance most Ryokans come with Onsen, the traditional hot spring bath.
Ryokans have catered to Japanese travelers since the days of Kyoto, leading to an association with sense of travel and leisure in local minds. Thus even in hotels that have come up recently, there are Ryokan style rooms! Some families or large groups may find such rooms more spacious than the western style furnished rooms, as 4 or more people can comfortably sleep in such room. Note that in Japan hotels especially in Ryokan styled ones, room rates are charged by per person per night, rather than per room per night. So take care when booking online.
The other option for tourists expecting to soak in more of the tradition, is to stay in a temple or shrine. You can actually spend a night in the sparse spiritual confines of a Buddhist temple, partake in a traditional meditation session in the day. There are several options in Kyoto, the original old capital and the heart of Japanese traditions.
This category needs no mention as you might have already searched through Expedia / Venere / Agoda / Tripadvisor / Trivago. I guess you have also looked up familiar hotel aggregator sites like hotels.com or booking.com.Though it varies on date/time/location/your search history and preferences, I have found for hotels in places like Kyoto or Nikko in Japan, Agoda seemingly returned more properties than others. But then I am not advertising, no way!!
The global internet-powered uber-connected economy has had its brush with Japan as well, language barriers notwithstanding. You have the option of airbnb for a short stay at a Real Japanese home. It is not necessarily, read more often than not, cheap though. You have to be ready to shell deposit for servicing. And expect the need to follow neighborhood rules and customs, such as strictly no noise.
For families, especially with children and/or pets, a wider range of options can be found through aggregator sites like below. You will have more options to choose from, unlike the regular hotels which offer a preset standard list of amenities, and B&Bs that can vary in area of service standards.
For people staying for about a week or more, there are weekly apartments which come with cooking option. There are chains like Apahotel, Mystays etc. Rooms are small, but not short of amenities in any way. Found in all major neighborhoods. Discounts available for longer periods of stay. Not suitable for families but good enough for single or young couple.
For backpackers and “students” traveling on a “budget”, there are hostel like shared apartments such as Sakura house, Khaosan. The shared environment may help you make friends from other countries and/or find out that deal you never heard of before coming. And these guys do understand your challenges dear student, you don’t have to feel shy if you like saving that last coin.
Just a night…
For just a bed for the night, apart from your regular hotel stays, there are some options that are probably unique to Japan. This section is for people interested in exploring more. To start for example, for a night you can try out the Capsule hotels. These are little private bunks with own TV, shared washrooms, neat and clean. Started originally to provide an option to late staying office workers “salarymen” who missed the last train back home. But now morphed into tourist friendly “just enough” option. The one in Kyoto is quite popular. A similar one has opened at Narita airport. Within Tokyo city it is available at several locations like Asakusa, Kinshicho, Akasaka etc. Kids are not allowed though.
But for a night there are even more options. Interested? Why not check out the Internet video game parlors !!! Yes in Japan some people, read students, are known to sometimes spend hours at these parlors that come with private cubicle for sleep, free refreshments, showers and washroom…click on the one below, navigate to store list, select one say Shinjuku South Exit one and look up the amenities list. You will get a good idea.
Now there occurs certain situations when going to look for that manga parlor also seems too difficult a task, not to mention the 10 dollars charge that comes with it. If you are the type who would rather be prepared for all situations, then read on.
In Japan safety in public places can be assumed with a high degree of confidence. Mugging is rare, gun crime is rarer. So this has led to a third option for spending the night for the students, incapacitated by alcohol or other dire circumstances. That is to simply head onto a park bench and sleep. Nobody is likely to disturb. Legions say people have traveled around Japan spending little on night stay, using this option. But then, caveat emptor. This is certainly not for everybody. So if you would rather look for the next level of option but in this same class, then you can check the option to pitch a tent. There are sites that have elaborate guidelines on how to find that perfect corner in a park where you can pitch your tent and spend the night without being mistaken for a homeless and packed out to a homeless shelter. Please note that here we Couchflyer team have chosen to go out of our usual preference which is to dwell on subjects with first hand experience. So hold us no guilty if you happen to find yourself in less desirable situation trying to emulate the “third” option discussed here.
Some general notes
In general Japanese rooms tend to be on the smaller side. A bedroom may well be as wide as an international luggage size suitcase opened wide. But rooms are generally impeccably clean with all amenities comfortably within reach. As for the washrooms be ready to be pleasantly surprised. Japanese toilet seats come with electronic controls having multiple options.
It is so unique and so popular that Japanese tourism department had started competitions and road shows recognizing its potential in attracting more tourists!!!
Expect 24 hour hot and cold water in kitchenette and washroom. The water is directly drinkable. Electric appliances are all 110v. USA Sockets with 2 blades will work. The AC remote may require some tinkering due to the buttons being all in Japanese but otherwise everything else should be fine. All hotels come with high speed wireless broadband or with network line adapter.
Unless specified almost all rooms are non-smoking fitted with smoke detectors. If you are staying in weekly apartment then make yourself aware of the trash collection and recycling rules as various locations have different dates/places for collecting different types of trash – perishable/ non burnable/ recyclable are separated.
You will likely see a Kombini store lie Lawson/Sevel-Eleven/Familymart closeby with provisions sufficient to help you settle down for the night or more. Coin operated laundries are located in most neighborhoods.
Japan being earthquake prone stringent precautionary measurements are laid down. All hotels will clearly indicate nearest emergency exit and numbers to dial etc. Recent hotels and apartments have been built to withstand strong tremors. So it may be said that even if you experience earthquake during your stay chances are you may feel mild shake and nothing more.
So that’s all for your stay. Have a good one and enjoy. Remember to leave your comments, if you find this article useful. Likes dont hurt either. And if you care to refer to us / link to us you have earned good karma congratulations 🙂