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GUIDE Minshuku and Guesthouses in Japan Minshuku offer homely accommodation on a budget

Accommodation for travelers on a budget, family-run minshuku offer a contemporary take on the youth hostel

Minshuku are often family-run, guesthouse-style lodgings in the owner's home, where moderately priced rooms are rented out to visitors. Often located in rural areas and near resorts and vacation spots, minshuku are similar to bed-and-breakfast lodgings, offering visitors on a budget a chance to witness Japanese family life first-hand.

Rooms will often—but not always—feature tatami flooring and futons. Amenities are prepared, like traditional inns and ryokan. Bathroom facilities are often shared, and you are usually expected to put away your bedding.

Minshuku offer insight into Japanese family life

Other budget accommodation

Pensions are more elegant accommodations that generally fall somewhere between the homey atmosphere of a minshuku and the more upscale amenities of a hotel. They are usually Western in style and situated near ski resorts and other holiday areas.

Similar to hostels, guesthouses are accommodations that cater to mid- to long-term travelers. Rooms range from dormitories to single rooms, with shared kitchens, bathrooms, and common areas.

Some guesthouses in Tokyo, Kyoto, and other cities have on-site restaurants, bars or cafes open to walk-in tourists and visitors.

Room rates for guesthouses are varying according to the type of accommodation.

Lodgings tend to be simple and comfortable

Youth hostels

There are about 220 Youth Hostel Association properties throughout Japan. A small membership fee may be required to join the international network upon booking your accommodation.

Four- to six-bed dormitories are standard, but some YHA properties have a family room, and some offer single and twin rooms, too. Most offer both coed lodgings and segregated floors. Common areas and bathrooms are shared.

Despite the name, youth hostels welcome backpackers and travelers of all ages. In cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto, some hostels have been revamped, have in-house restaurants, and provide a more guesthouse-like atmosphere. In rural areas, you may even find temple hostel accommodation. Prices typically start at 3,500 yen per night for very basic dormitory beds. Be aware that some hostels have curfews.

Japan offers many other kinds of specialist accommodations for travelers on the cheap with capsule hotels, temple stays (shukubo) , and lower-end ryokan being just a few of the options available.

* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.

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