Accommodations in Japan
Different Types of Accommodations
There are many types of accommodations in Japan. Here is a brief guide on some of these facilities along with a rough estimate of room rates.
Room rates may vary according to seasons and other occasions. It could be extremely high during holiday season ( Christmas and New Year season or the Golden Week which is at the beginning of May ), but sometimes unexpectedly low because of special budget plans and discounts, offered mostly by middle and high class hotels.
Room rates may also be changed without notice. Please refer to each hotel or travel agency for more information.
Notes : The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has introduced an accommodation tax from 1, October, 2002. According to this, accommodation tax ( 100 yen tax for room rates between 10,000 yen and 14,999 yen, twice as much when the room rates are 15,000 yen or more ) would be imposed when staying at hotels inside the Tokyo Metropolis, for rooms priced at 10,000 yen or higher.
Besides this accommodation tax, guests must pay a consumption tax of 5%, and in high class hotels 10 to 15% service charge is also added, since basically there is no custom of tipping in Japan.
Western Style Accommodations
Accommodation with western style equipments ( including western style lavatories ) and services. Room rates vary from around 6,000 yen to 25,000 yen or more.
High Class Hotels
( from 20,000 yen and over per night per room )
Needless to say, luxurious hotel rooms with high quality service are the selling point of this type of accommodation. Accordingly, the room rates can be extremely high. For those who can afford it, I'm sure it will make your stay very comfortable.
Recently ( well, I think it's already been 15 or so years though, since it started... ) in Japan, it seems to be a trend for young couples wanting to enjoy a romantic night, to spend their Christmas Eve staying together in these gorgeous hotels. And because of this, making reservations for such hotels tend to be quite difficult, before and after Christmas.
English and some other language service available.
Middle Class Hotels
( 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen per night per room )
A lower priced accommodation style than the one shown above. Room rates are lower than high class hotels with enough service for your convenience. The rooms might be a little smaller, but it's clean and safe. From my personal point of view, this type of hotels are comfortable to stay in and reasonable to pay, and I think most foreign tourists could rest their mind at ease in many ways.
English service mostly available.
( 5,000 yen to 10,000 yen per night per room )
Reasonable room rates ( there seems to be places offering room rates from under 4000yen, but the service may not be of your convenience instead ) for a small room in good location.
Although you can not count on services in these type of hotels, for they cut off the service part to provide low room rates, there seems to be nothing for it but to approve its inexpensiveness.
With fax machines and high speed Internet access provided in most of these facilities, it is often used for business trips throughout Japan. ( So that's why they call them "BUSINESS" hotel...I knew it )
English service partly available.
( around 3,000 yen per night per person, around 4,500 yen when two meals included )
There are more than 300 Youth Hostels in Japan spread all over the country from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Offering clean and simple places to sleep, Youth Hostels are one of the most inexpensive types of accommodation in Japan. The systems don't change much from the ones in western countries, only sometimes the facilities such as baths and lavatories come in Japanese style.
Japanese Style Accommodations
Accommodations in traditional Japanese style with Japanese interior decorations.
Usually, the room floors are covered with Tatami ( straw mats ) and there is no bed inside the room. You sleep in a Futon ( Japanese bedclothes ) spread out on the Tatami, which the Nakai-san ( room attendant ) comes to lay it out for you after dinner, and you use the Daiyokujou ( communal bath ) shared by the guests staying, for taking a bath.
There are two big differences between western style hotels, one is that almost everything in these facilities are in Japanese style, from the furnitures and equipments ( sometimes even the lavatories ), to the service entertained by the Jpanese staff. The other is that the room rates ranging mainly from 5,000 yen to 30,000 yen or more, includes two meals ( dinner and breakfast ).
Althogh the Japanese manners in these type of accommodations may be unfamiliar or a little confusing, staying in a Japanese style accommodation is such a unique experience, that it can make your stay in Japan even more exciting and enjoyable. It's all worthwhile.
High Class Ryokans
( from 30,000 yen and over per night per person, two meals included )
Exclusive accommodation in traditional Japanese style. Despite the expensiveness, there are many delightful attractions in these types of Ryokans ( Japanese style hotels ) .
Most of the time, there is a beautiful Japanese garden to wander about, and their bath so often happens to be an Onsen ( hot spring ). That means you can enjoy a luxurious time, taking a walk around the beautiful garden in Yukata ( light cotton gown ) after a relaxing bath. And after a stroll in the garden, you can also enjoy a wonderful moment, licking your lips over the local and seasonal specialty of the house.
English service partly available.
( 10,000 yen to 30,000 yen per night per person, two meals included )
It goes without saying that the difference between high class Ryokans is the room rate. In average Ryokans, the rooms are simply decorated and it is not as gorgeous compared to high class Ryokans, but it's more than enough to enjoy a traditional Japanese atmosphere. The rooms are kept clean and tidy with room rates, as said before, comparatively reasonable.
English service partly available.
( under 10,000 yen per night per person, two meals included )
Mostly a family run pint-sized accommodation similar to guest houses. It can be found in every town or city throughout Japan, and since they are mostly operated by families, you can enjoy the warm homely atmosphere. Although you can not hope for the kind of amenities or service offered in first class hotels, low room rates are another attraction of Minshuku.
If you are looking for a place to stay with a home-like atmosphere where you don't have to feel any constraint, Minshuku maybe the one to look for.
Other Types of Accommodations
Though you can't actually accept them as "accommodations", there are other places where you can stay for the night, which were essentially made or run for different use. But they are so unique and interesting in a way, I might as well take this opportunity to give you an idea of what they are like.
However, children under18 are not allowed to use Manga Kissas, Family Restaurants, and Karaoke Boxes ( during midnight hours from 11p.m. to 4 a.m. the next morning ), and other facilities ( at any time ).