Ryokan or Capsule Hotel? A Guide to Japanese Accommodation Options

From cherry blossom viewing to vibrant autumn leaves, the vibrant pop-culture of Tokyo, to serene visits to historical Kyoto shrines — you may have seen & experienced all the top sightseeing locations in Japan, but have you explored the various types of accommodation Japan has to offer yet?

The number of tourists visiting Japan is rapidly increasing, with historical attractions and locations, in particular experiencing a boom in recent years. Japan broke its tourism record after over 28 million tourists visited in 2017, a 19.3% increase compared to 2016. This boost is expected to continue and has been helped by factors such as the relatively weaker yen and more “relaxed” visa requirements, particularly for the Chinese market.

With the Tokyo Olympics just 2 years away, the Japanese government expects the number of foreign tourists to climb to approximately 40 million by 2020. The aim is to target tourists from non-Asian countries, since over two-thirds of tourists in 2017 were from Korea and China.

So, if you are going to be staying in Japan, what kind of accommodation is on offer, and what can you expect when you stay?

Japan offers a wide range of accommodation from western-style hotels to the rather more unconventional capsule hotels. Prices can range from as cheap as 2,000 yen (appx. GBP 14) per person, to 50,000 yen (appx. GBP 346) per person at one of the luxury resort hotels.

Business Hotels

Firstly, there’s Business Hotels. As the name suggests, they offer comfortable accommodation for business people. Rooms themselves may run smaller compared to those of luxury resort hotels, but room fees in Business Hotels are often relatively cheap. They’re also generally in good locations, with well-equipped rooms including toiletries and a fridge. They usually offer western-style rooms, and are generally the most popular place to stay, with more than 75% of tourists choosing them in 2017.

Ryokan (Traditional Japanese Inns)

Secondly, there are Ryokan. Ryokan are Japanese style inns, and are an ideal place to stay if you want to experience traditional Japanese hospitality. Room fees at ryokan usually include breakfast and/or dinner. You can choose them based on the inn’s speciality, such as their culinary experiences, or even private “onsen” hot spring facilities in your room.

Something Different

Looking for something a bit more quirky and unique? Japan has you covered, with capsule hotels, manga (Japanese comics) cafés, and even love hotels. Love hotels provide a quick and convenient space for couples to spend undisturbed time together for a few hours or a night.

Capsule hotels are designed for a short stay and are designed as a stack of shoe-box-like rooms. They can just about accommodate a single bed, sometimes a tv, too. They’re widely popular with business people or young students who missed the last train home and need to catch up on some rest for the night. Many capsule hotels also provide shared bathrooms and coin-operated lockers. Recently they’ve become especially popular with women, with women-only floors and even entire hotels having recently been introduced.

Another low-budget, travel-friendly establishment to consider for fans of Japanese pop culture are Manga Cafés. These little-known oases of bookish bliss are open 24 hours and provide customers with a reclinable seat or booth to read manga and magazines, or watch anime films and shows online. All kinds of amenities are available, and some places provide showers and laundry services. So, if you’re an anime fanatic, this is definitely a form of accommodation worth considering.

The lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has provided the perfect time to start a campaign targeting travellers to Japan. It’s also a good opportunity to customise any existing campaigns to expand users’ choices. OTA giants like Booking.com and Rakuten Travel already provide lists of different accommodation types, including the ones mentioned above. It’s also worth testing out a campaign with varying combinations of keywords relating to popular activities and accommodation types to see what works best.

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