Accommodations like hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and apartments are often the norm for people going on a trip. When traveling in Japan, however, there are a few lodging options that are a bit out of the ordinary, but are definitely worth checking out.
If you’re looking for an authentic local experience, a ryokan can provide that. This type of accommodation is a traditional Japanese inn. A minshuku is similar although it is more basic and usually family run. While very expensive, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand per night, these types of accommodation can give insight into the culture. Also, multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner are usually included and can take you on a culinary tour without having to leave your room. Don’t expect eggs and toast for breakfast, as you’re more likely to be served seaweed, miso soup, pickles, and other Japanese-style options. Imagine sleeping in a tatami mat room with sliding doors on a pile of thin mattresses that are put away during the day, making the room feel very simple. There is also sometimes a low table surrounded by cushions for tea drinking.
One thing to keep in mind is that bathing is usually a communal activity. Not in the sense that there is one bathroom on the floor that everyone shares, but as in you shower in the open without stalls. First you wash yourself off to get clean, then you relax in a hot bathtub. Luckily, the rooms are usually separated between female and male.
Click here to browse ryokan and minshuku lodging.Love Hotel
You can probably guess from the name what type of accommodation this is. These are usually clumped together and can be spotted by their gaudy decor and flashy signs. You can choose between paying for a “rest”, which is if you’re in the mood for a quickie, or “stay”, which means sleeping overnight, usually from 10PM on. To ensure your privacy, there are no keys or sign-in involved. Instead, you choose your room from a panel of buttons on the wall. The rooms are often themed, sometimes going all-out and including rotating beds, mirrored ceilings, or being styled like a dungeon, classroom, or hentai anime room.
Generally you don’t make a reservation for a Love Hotel.
Staying in a capsule hotel reminds me a lot of climbing into a big washing machine. The capsules are stacked two high in long rows and there is very limited space, although enough to sit up. A television is built into the ceiling and there is a small shelf for personal items. Luckily, there are lockers outside of the capsule to put your things, as well as communal baths, toilets, and a common room. Although this kind of accommodation is aimed at businessmen staying the night or people who have missed the last train home, staying in one can provide an interesting and affordable experience.
While the room style and bathing situation are similar to that of a ryokan or minshuku, at a Buddhist temple in Japan your multi-course meals will consist of vegan fare. Not only that, but you’ll have the opportunity to meditate and chant with the monks early in the morning, as well as to explore the grounds which are often closed to the public.
Click here to browse Buddhist temple lodging.