One of the typical complaints heard when discussing Japan, alongside the price, is the lack of budget accommodation. For as long as the country has allowed foreign visitors, they have stayed in typical Ryokans; old-fashioned hotels that come at a price.
The country’s increasing popularity among backpackers and young people has seen a rise in hostels for traveling Japan on a budget that are typical in Australasia and Europe, but nowhere near enough to meet demand. Anyone visiting the country should definitely consider using AirBnB in Japan before booking any other accommodation as it has stepped into this empty market with aplomb.
However, the rapid-fire transitions necessitated by an AirBnB apartment have grated against Japan’s conservative customs. This guide attempts to explain the tricky situation AirBnB in Japan finds itself in, as well as listing just a few of the country’s finest rental options.
Challenges for AirBnb in Japan
The ever-rising number of tourists visiting Japan, the upcoming Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympics in 2020 and the limited number of hotels in the country should create the perfect scenario for AirBnb to profit. However, decades-old legislation on renting has so far prevented tourists from finding easy accommodation and hosts from making some money from their vacant apartments.
Many traditional neighbourhoods in this highly homogenous country have also complained about the noise and cultural disturbances that foreign tourists bring in. AirBnB has been operating in Japan for a number of years already but it has so far operated in a sort of legal grey-area, with home-owners occasionally hit with fines.
The government appears to have rectified this by introducing new laws permitting home-sharing up to 180 days a year, but the situation is not yet clear. Regardless of the company’s political situation, the vast majority of citizens have embraced the concept of the ‘shareconomy’ and there are a huge number of rental options available online.
Best AirBnBs in Japan
Reversible Destiny Lofts – Mitaka, Tokyo
Designed by the legendary architectural duo of Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, the Reversible Destiny Lofts are buildings unlike any other. Arakawa and Gins were behind other sensational pieces of design such as the Site of Reversible Destiny in Gifu, but here you get the opportunity to live and sleep inside one of their incredible artworks.
The lofts are fully equipped with all modern appliances and sleep up to four people per unit, with all four guests getting the feeling of sleeping in a children’s playpark.The nearest station is Musashi-Sakai to the west of central Tokyo and one night’s rental costs approximately 25,000 Yen (ca. 250 EUR). The lofts were recently featured prominently in the hit HBO series ‘Girls’.
‘Off-grid Tiny Cottage in Nature’ – Nagano
Looking for the perfect escape from modern-day Tokyo? Look no further than this one-of-a-kind handbuilt cottage in the wilds of Nagano. The remote Haguroshita station on the JR Koumi line is the closest station, and the cottage is a fair distance from any civilization. Despite its size, the cottage can hold up to three people comfortably and is complete with hammocks, a wood-burning stove and offers scenic views of Mt Morai. Rent the cottage from 9,975 Yen (ca. 99 USD) per night.
‘A Place Like No Other’ – Tokyo
Set within the glamorous suburb of Omotesando is something that doesn’t quite fit in amongst the high-end fashion shops and cute anime character shops, a caravan. This custom-built caravan sits within the trendy ‘Commune 246’, one of Tokyo’s hippest outdoor food courts, and provides accommodation for two people in a cosy and memorable spot. Surrounded by skyscrapers sits this sleek caravan, costing just under 15,000 Yen (ca. 150 USD) for one night of incredible memories.
Booking an AirBnb in Japan
AirBnB in Japan offers just about every type of accommodation conceivable to mankind. From studio apartments atop huge buildings to entire villas set on one of the more remote islands, and from Nintendo-themed decor to traditional Japanese minimalist fare.
There is really a home for everyone here and most of which is very well-priced, particularly for those travelling in groups. The more typical options tend to be modern rooms in shared houses for young professionals, or often a simple one-room traditional family flat complete with tatami mats and sliding doors. These will often cost as little as 1500 Yen (ca. 15 USD) per night, so have a look at the website and find yourself a place tailored to your needs.
Alternatives to AirBnb can be the many boutique hotels in Tokyo and other cities who offer a cozy at-home-feeling as well or one of the typically Japanese capsule hotels.