Japan has some wonderful places to stay when travelling on a budget. So-called "budget lodging" comes in a variety of styles: capsule hotels, youth hostels and temple lodgings, to name a few. Each gives the lodger a wonderfully unique glimpse into just how varied a stay in Japan can be, and some offer priceless cultural experiences as well as a bargain stay! Wherever you stay, you can be sure to experience the marvelous juxtaposition of hi-tech, comfort and tradition that Japanese lodging has to offer.
Capsule hotels, found in most major cities, run about $40 and up per person per night, and many also rent rooms by the hour. They provide sleeping space in small cubicles stacked side by side, and sometimes on top of each other. There is enough room for one person to stretch out comfortably, and the rooms are usually equipped with TV and wireless internet connections. Bathrooms are communal; there are vending machines filled with drinks and snacks, and lockers are provided for your luggage. No frills, but you will find everything that you need. 9 Hours and First Cabin are capsule hotels for the next generation. 9 Hours is extremely stylish in a minimalist sense, and First Cabin has modeled its two types of "cabins," first-class and business-class, as though they were private airplane cubicles. Business hotels, such as the Toyoko Inn, are also available. Rooms are larger than capsule hotels, with private baths, but they are also simple, clean, convenient and economical places to stay a bit.
KYOTO UTANO Youth Hostel
Staying at a Youth Hostel is another way to travel on a budget. Lodging runs about $30 per person per night. These are great places to meet people since most rooms are shared, and all guests are invited to pitch in and help out with daily chores. It's a wonderful experience, and you are guaranteed to make some new friends! Information on youth hostels is available at Japan Youth Hostels, Inc. website.
For the traveler who wishes to try a different sort of cultural experience, there is the shukubo, or temple stay which is about $65 and up per person per night. Temple-style meals are available at many temples at an additional charge. Guests may also enjoy enriching cultural experiences such as Otsutome (daily devotions) and Shakyo (sutra transcription).
Many temples in Kyoto open their doors to tourists, regardless of their religious affiliation. Southwest of Kyoto, the World Heritage Site, Koyasan, is a very popular shukubo area. Information about temples offering shukubo in the Koyasan area in both English and Japanese is available at the website http://www.shukubo.net.