Traveling abroad tends to come with a lot of expenses, and surely there are a lot of people out there who would like to cut down their lodging costs to be able to spend more on sightseeing and shopping. If this is your case, this article is for you - here you will find a selection of tips that will help you spend less on lodging while in Japan.
1. Stay at a cheap hotel (capsule hotels/guesthouses)
When thinking about cheap hotels, the first thing that comes to mind is "capsule hotels". You can find many of these in Tokyo. Prices usually range between 3,000 and 5,000 JPY per night, and they are targeted mainly at men. These hotels are characterized by not offering individual rooms, but rather beds in a capsule-like box where you may feel as if you were in a spaceship. Capsule hotels are usually equipped with a common bath, a shower room, and a restroom. They are recommended because in recent years the number of reasonably priced unique capsule hotels offering additional services such as a manga corner, a bar, and even a rooftop garden space has been increasing.
If you want to lower your lodging expenses a little bit more, then opt for a guesthouse. The price per night at a dormitory style room, which is usually a big shared room equipped with various beds, ranges between 2,000 and 3,000 JPY. This reasonable price comes from the fact that the kitchen, restroom, bathroom, and shower are shared, and the facilities are rather simple. The number of people who choose to stay in guesthouses is on the increase. There are many ingeniously designed guesthouses, including Kyoto machiya-style guesthouses and refurbished traditional Japanese-style townhouses, so take your time to choose the one that best suits you!
*The picture shows a capsule hotel.
2. Stay at a 24 hour bathhouse or spa
In Japan, there is a type of bathhouse called "Kenko (Health) Land" that offers public baths, open-air baths, sauna, bedrock baths, restaurants, and resting spaces all in one single facility. Young people tend to use the word "spa" to refer to these places.
There are many different types of Kenko Land facilities. Some may be decorated to look like a resort or like Japan back in the Edo period, and some feature gorgeous hot spring baths that have nothing to envy to ryokans. It is nice to note that they are very reasonably priced between 2,000 and 3,000 JPY!
You can use one of these 24 hour spas in order to cut down your lodging expenses. Leave your bag in a locker and enjoy a healthy sweat in the spacious bathing area. Afterwards, you can lie on a reclining chair in the shared resting space and cover yourself with a terrycloth blanket to sleep comfortably until the morning. Be careful though, since the resting space may become crowded depending on the time and you may not be able to find a place. Some of the facilities close at night or may have rules that prohibit the entrance to people with tattoos, so it may be a good idea to check their website in advance.
3. Catch up on sleep at a manga cafe
The best way to cut down your lodging expenses as much as possible is to go to a "manga kissa" (manga cafe) at night. Manga kissa are also cybercafes, and they include other services such as allowing customers to read as much manga comics as they want, TV, internet, games, and complimentary drinks. The space is divided in numbered semi-private rooms that may be a little small, but here you can spend the time as you like - you may even catch up on sleep on their reclining chairs or flat seats! We recommend these cafes for their reasonable value prices - here you can stay all night until the morning for just 1,500 to 2,000 JPY! Available services vary from one cafe to the other, but they may include snacks, meals, and alcoholic beverages being available for purchase, completely private rooms, a shower room, and laundromats. You may need to check in advance to decide which cafe you should go to. These cafes tend to be crowded so it may get a little noisy, but if you really want to cut down your expenses or if you like Japanese manga (available in Japanese only), we definitely recommend that you give them a try!
4. Stay at a temple
This may be an unexpected option, but it is also possible to stay at a temple. These are guesthouses built within the temple grounds for worshippers to stay at, and the cheapest ones start at 3,000 JPY per night. Prices vary, but most of these guesthouses are popular for offering cheaper prices than hotels. In addition, most of the temples offer guests the opportunity to experience taking part in religious services, sutra copying, meditation, and to have vegetarian meals. These may be open for voluntary participation or may require additional fees. On the other hand, some temples require guests to take part in these devotional programs, so it is a good idea to check the temple's website in advance to find out whether guests can spend their time freely during their stay or not. Also, if you are willing to do some volunteer work, some temples will allow you to stay for free! Most temple guesthouses do not offer complimentary amenities, so we recommend taking anything that you may need with you. Staying at a temple is not only a great way to cut down costs, but it is also a very attractive way to experience Japanese culture.
5. Extra: Use overnight buses to reduce your traveling and lodging expenses
As an extra, we would like to recommend overnight buses. These are buses that you board at night and drive while you sleep, so in the morning when you wake up you will already be at your destination. They are much cheaper than the bullet train or planes, and they are also popular for being an efficient way to cut down lodging expenses. A good way to start the trip in a refreshed mood is by having a bath in a public bathhouse before boarding the bus. During the night, the lights are turned off and blackout curtains are put in place, so you can comfortably sleep in your spacious reclining seat. However, an overnight bus ride may not be a good idea if you are very tall or if you have a tendency to get car sick. Take your time to consider if this is a right option for you. The buses are designed to make your trip convenient and relaxing: some are equipped with TVs and individual power supply for your smartphone, and may even include amenities such as slippers. When you are choosing your bus, the safest way to go is to select one that is equipped with a restroom! Make sure to be on time if you choose to ride an overnight bus, as being late to the place the bus will be departing from is a big no-no.
Did you enjoy the article? There are many different ways to cut back on lodging expenses. Pick your favorite tips from the ones featured in this article to enjoy your trip to the fullest!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.