Japan cheap travel

A complete guide to budget travel in Japan

 
 Deer on Kinkasan Island
 Deer near our Minshuku on Kinkasan Island

Traditional Japanese Accommodation

Staying in a traditional Japanese inn, that is say a Minshuku or a Ryokan, is an excellent experience which should not missed. Both represent a great way to enjoy traditional living including classic Japanese interiors, bedrooms (including futons), meals and baths. These are usually not the most economical option, but there is a wide variation in prices and cheaper inns can be found, especially in the countryside.    

Minshuku

Minshuku are mostly family-run and more often found in the countryside rather than the city. They are generally cheaper than Ryokan and less formal. Prices range from 4,000 and 9,000 yen per night per person and a meal is often included in the price. 

At Minshuku, meals are taken communally in a dining room on low Japanese tables. To save money, it may be possible ask for the meals not to be included. However, trying traditional home cooked Japanese food is often worth the extra expense. For example, during our stay at a Minshuku on the Island of Kinkasan, just off the coast of Sendai, we were served many appetizing dishes and varieties of Sashimi (raw fish) which would have cost far more from a restaurant. This included the gonads of the tiny, spiny sea-urchin (uni); a surprisingly enjoyable culinary experience!

For a list of Minshuku in English go to http://www.minshuku.jp.

Ryokan

While Minshuku tend to small family run establishments, Ryokan offer all levels of size and sophistication and are considered the ultimate form of traditional accommodation. Prices tend to range from 5,000 to 20,000 Yen per person per night per person; this often includes a meal. 

For a list of Ryokan in English go to the Japanese Inn Group.

At both Minshuku and Ryokan, you will be required to wear slippers indoors and take these off when entering rooms that have tatami floors. There will also be a Japanese bath which you will normally take before dinner. The bath is filled once and may be shared with other guests (not usually at once). So, never drain a traditional Japanese bath, and wash thoroughly before entering.

Temple Inns

Some Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines also provide inexpensive hostel accommodation or (shukubo). This can cost from 3,000 to 9,000 yen per person per night including meals. There are approximately 70 youth hostels in Japan located in temples. Traditionally serving pilgrims, Temple Inns are incredibly atmospheric places. The meals are vegetarian and you may well be invited to observe or indeed participate in daily prayers and rituals.

Good budget guesthouses

We are starting to make a list of recommended guesthouses. Places where we have either stayed ourselves or have heard good things about from fellow travelers. They are not all traditional Minshuku or Ryokan, in the strictest sense, but all have proven to be good value Japanese-style alternatives. To see our list, go to the budget guesthouses page.