Today’s look at budget digs centres on Japan, where I’ve been living now for two year and first visited in April 2011. Japan has some pretty awesome hostels. Not only are they friendly, with great facilities including kitchens, wifi and more, but they often organise free or very cheap tours and are simply a great place to meet people. Not only foreigners stay at hostels in Japan, but also Japanese people as well. There are usually options between dorms, double or single rooms, with a dorm bed usually costing from $25-$35 US dollars.
Let’s look at my top FIVE budget places to stay in Japan, three are hostels. Of course, remember that these are places I have stayed in, compared only to other places in Japan that I have stayed in!
5. Narakan Ryokan, Tsuruoka
A Ryokan is a traditional kind of place to stay in Japan. You will usually be sleeping on a futon or mattress on the floor of a room covered in tatami mats. This one was charming, run by a lovely lady who didn’t speak any English but was very kind and tried to help me in any way she could – including organising a western breakfast for me when I struggled (shamefully) to eat the Japanese one provided on my first day there.
The room was simple, the shower was shared but there was a toilet and washbasin attached. There is no website for this room, but the price is a little under $40 for a single room. It was clean and comfortable. Tsuruoka is on the west coast of Japan, and not so many people come to visit, especially western tourists but it is handy for the famed hiking trail of Dewa Sanzan.
4. Hana Hostel, Hiroshima
A single room here was around 4000 yen when I visited, and although the Hana Hostel is smaller than other hostels I stayed at in Japan, it more than made up for that with its friendliness. Situated between the station and Carp stadium – home of the local baseball team the Carp, the location isn’t perfect for downtown although it’s not all that far either and obviously handy for the station.
The staff were exemplary here, always with a smile and all the information I needed including how to get to the beautiful island of Miyajima. There is a small kitchen where you can meet others, and the room was excellent value for money – and dorm beds are cheaper of course.
3. Zenkoji Temple Inn, Takayama (Hide Prefecture)
For a small 3000 yen a single, the Zenkoji Temple might be the best value accommodation in the country. It’s a short walk from the station and you are staying in a working temple complex so it’s an experience as well as a great place to stay, a great place to meet people and the like. The kitchen is really big so it’s great for self-caterers. My room was simple, Japanese tatami mat style, and it was cold in Takayama but they provided heating and plenty of blankets to keep me warm.
Takayama in Hide Prefecture is a pretty, interesting and historical town a little way into the mountains. The train ride to get there is simply stunning. There is a festival in April with some amazing floats which can be viewed in a museum at other times. Not on everyone’s ‘to do’ list in Japan, I recommend Takayama as an interesting and worthwhile diversion from the tourist trail.
2. K’s House Hakuba Alps, Hakuba
K’s House are a chain of hostels located in many places in Japan, I’ve stayed at two of them and they were both excellent. Friendly, full of people to meet and chat with. I stayed in Hakuba, not far from Nagano, back in 2012 in the summer and it certainly provided some much-needed relief from the heat and humidity that grips Japan from July to September.
This hostel looks like a bit of a chalet from outside, was friendly inside even if not full. I again had a single room at around 4500 yen, but again dorms are much cheaper (check website for exact price – starting at 2,800 yen). Spotlessly clean, wonderful common areas including a good kitchen and a wide eating area. Great place.
1. K’s House Kyoto
Finally, a great city like Kyoto needs a great hostel, and that hostel is K’s House Kyoto. Every good point of other places mentioned goes double for K’s House Kyoto. This was the first place I ever stayed in Japan, and I still rate it as the best. A definite 5/5 experience. You want clean? They were cleaning the grooves the sliding doors run along with TOOTHBRUSHES when I arrived.
Here was my first experience with the Japanese super-deluxe version of the western toilet with the bidet function (for man or woman), warmed seat, flushing sound to avoid embarrassment and everything else you could want in a toilet. Great kitchen, location was great too not far from the station.
There is a bar connected called the ‘Zen Bar’ which is a perfect place to chill and a great place to get a drink at well below the normal bar prices in Japan. A free tour on my first day too! Met loads of people from Japan and elsewhere here, it was the perfect introduction to Japan in the best city in Japan. My room was 3,800 yen back in 2011. Dorm beds presently start at around 2,300 yen.
Thanks for reading today! If you are coming to Japan and you’re on a budget, consider these places when looking for accommodation. I heartily recommend them all! And for more information, tips and experiences on Japan, please consider my ebook:
Until next time!