Rental site Airbnb has been forced by Japanese authorities to cancel thousands of reservations ahead of a new Minpaku Law which comes into force on Jun 15. It had already suspended the listings of owners who had not obtained a registration number.
Under the Minpaku Law, hosts can only rent their properties for 180 days a year, and face additional restrictions imposed by local authorities. For example, weekday rentals in Shinjuku will be prohibited and in Shibuya rentals will only be allowed during school holidays. In Kyoto, rentals are only allowed between January and March in residential areas, the low season for tourists.
If your booking has been cancelled, here are some alternatives:
With a more limited choice and a slightly pricier options than Airbnb, Stay Japan has around 2,000 apartments, countryside stays and traditional homes. Most are non-central, but they’re all legal. It might still be a good option if you’re travelling in a group.
Hostels around the world have been upgraded to sleek places to sleep, and in Japan it’s no different. You’ll not only have options for bunk beds or private rooms (some with en-suite), these are best if you’re travelling solo or as a couple. Plus, you can look forward to socialising with other guests. You can either walk in, or pre-book via online booking sites. There are plenty of quirky hostels, including The Book and Bed Hostel (ideal for bookworms) and Toco Heritage Hotel which is a traditional ryokan.
Average price: S$15-35 for single bunk / S$55-90 for private double
Sure, they sound seedy, but there are decent ones out there. Bigger than some hotels, you have to be at least 18 to rent, and some have really quirky features (like karaoke machines). All of them accept walk-ins (some are totally automated but you’ll have to read Japanese) which you can book by the hour (rest) or overnight (stay). Overnight stays – check-in at 10pm usually – are bookable on some hotel booking sites, and they sometimes accommodate small groups in a room. Found in cities all over Japan, in Tokyo most are in the Shinjuku and Shibuya areas. You can choose from the tacky Hotel Meguro Emperor (a castle built in the 70s) to the classy Hotel Sara Sweet (with its individually-themed rooms).
Average cost: S$40-110 for rest (1-3 hours) / S$80-380 for stay (12 hours)
You’ll find plenty of business hotels scattered across Japanese cities, providing cheap digs for travelling businessmen. However, many chains offer rooms at rates cheaper than tourist hotels including all the amenities. These are usually on the small side, especially in Tokyo, but in nearby cities like Yokohama they tend to be much larger and even cheaper. The best part is that they’re all near train stations; some chains – like Super Hotel (which has student discounts) and Dormy Inn – even have free onsen facilities.
Average cost: S$55-150 per room
It’s not a great option if you’re claustrophobic, but for a quirky Japanese stay, these places accept walk-ins as well as bookings. They provide minimal sleeping space (some will have a TV in the capsule), and showers/toilets are communal but many have onsen and sauna facilities. This is ideal if you’re travelling solo, as floors are gender-segregated. Down side is that you have to check-in and out every day. Asakusa Hotel and Capsule has student discounts, while Capsule Value Kanda has great rates if you’re under 30.
Average cost: S$24-70 per person
Manga-kissa (Internet Cafes)
While many of us are used to spending long hours at an internet cafe, Japan’s versions are way more well-equipped and offer more privacy. Computers are in spacious private booths with curtains which you can stretch out in, and you can help yourself to freeflow drinks and sometimes snacks all night. These cafes are loaded with books/manga, DVDs and video games (some in VR); some have shower facilities. They normally charge by the hour (and per 30-minute blocks) but are still cheaper than hotels. There are plenty of cafe options, ranging from the Manboo chain (which has ladies’ sections and discounts) and the traditional Japanese-styled Nagomi Net Cafe, to the adults-only Takarajima 24 chain (over 18s only).
Average cost: S$10 for 3 hours / up to S$45 for 12-hours