Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hotels of Japan

Wedding scene photo by Fuji Film staff

Japan offers perhaps the widest range of accommodation in the world. Youth hostels, guest houses, pensions, apartments, ryokan, minshuku, business hotels, hotels and love hotels. Check the JNTO offices outside of Japan and the TIC Offices in Tokyo and Kyoto and the International Centre in Nagoya for the Directory of Welcome Inns. This lists the many foreigner friendly inns in Japan. As well you can see the following website for information about Japanese Ryokan that are used to dealing with foreign tourists:

We highly recommend youth hostels. You can buy a Japanese youth hostel membership, then stay very cheaply. There are many youth hostels throughout Japan.

In each town you visit there will be many hotels, business hotels, budget inns and others near the main station. Indeed youth hostels and the cheaper hotels are further away from the station. You can reachthem by bus or train for the most part. The local police box or (koban) are always happy to help if youcan`t find a hotel on your own. Just be sure to be carrying your passport at the time you ask. Just incase they do.

As Japan has such a variety of accommodation, it is a great idea to try them all. Try a ryokan, a minshuku,and even a love hotel if that sounds interesting.

Love Hotels are usually for the purpose of couples getting a little privacy. Something that is lacking in manyJapanese households with often grandma and grandpa living in the same small house. You can also simplyjust stay at one. The prices tend to get lower the later you check in. But best to ask. Sometimes you canget a much more interesting room at a love hotel than at a regular hotel. Some come with a hot-tubbath and elegant decor with many different themes. For a laugh it might be fun to stay in one.

Business Hotels are very cheap hotels usually for businessmen. The rooms are small and sparse. Theyare meant for the single traveller. The rooms are clean and Western style.

Ryokan: For a true Japanese experience you must stay at one at least once while in Japan. Entering theryokan you will take off your shoes, step up and put on some hotel slippers, you can wear these anywhere except in the bathroom (there are bathroom slippers for this purpose), and you cannot walk on tatami mat (reed mat) floors in slippers of any kind.

Your room will be tatami mat and you will sleep on a futon which will magically appear when the made takes it out of the closet and sets it up for you. Your room will have no number but a kanji character usually above the sliding door.

After being shown to your room, drinking tea and eating Japanese style sweets they will ask you to sign the register. Your yukata or robe will have been left and you can then proceed to the bath. For the yukata belt:be sure to wrap the left over the right as the opposite way is for the dead!

You wash yourself outside the bath. After a good scrubbing (of all parts) you rinse off then may enter the bath.After your bath you return to your room to see that dinner has been served. You eat right in your room. This is a very traditional Japanese meal so things that you may feel should be warm, often are not. This is Japan and of course many things, including the food is different.

After dinner you may want to read a book or go for a walk. The maid will clear the food away and set up your futons. In colder weather often a blanket is the first material on you. Westerners often find this strange--preferring a sheet to be the first material to touch their bodies. However, Japanese regard this as being warmer.

In the morning, following a knock at the door, the maid will come in to put away your bedding and serve breakfast.Usually breakfast is served in a different room. Breakfast often consists of cold fish, rice with a raw egg on toporange juice and coffee. This is one meal I have always found difficult to consume in the morning. You may wantto go out for breakfast instead or bring your own. Sometimes Ryokans are understanding and may serve youmorning set if you ask--this is toast, a fried or boiled egg and coffee. If you decline breakfast at the ryokanthey will usually reduce the bill by 10%. You should never decline both dinner and breakfast however. Most ryokan prefer to serve both and charge for both.


There is usually a tourist information office at the main train station of each town or city. They can often help with makingreservations for local hotels.

During peak holiday seasons, it is recommended you book your room at least a few days in advance though. But during the offseason, you can usually book a room the sameday or day before.

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