Accommodation for travelers on a budget, family-run minshuku offer a contemporary take on the youth hostel
Minshuku are 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 simple compared with traditional inns and ryokan. Bathroom facilities are often shared, and you are usually expected to put away your bedding.
Other budget accommodation
Pensions are more upscale 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 typically urban 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 often paid by the week or month, with prices varying according to the type of accommodation.
Japan is a member of the International Youth Hostel (YHA) network, and there are about 220 YHA 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 all 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 or bars, and provide a more guesthouse-like atmosphere. In rural areas, you may even find temple hostel accommodation. Prices typically start at 2,500 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.