Airbnb is our favorite option for sleeping in Japan. There’s no better way to get to know a culture than by actually living in it. It’s gotten extremely popular over the last few years and there are usually many options available in all the major cities.

That being said, using the service in Japan is a little different than many other countries. For one thing, shared houses and apartments are much less common (but they are available if that’s what you’re looking for).

Another thing is that apartments can be pretty small. However, they’re usually organized efficiently and have a lot of amenities within that small spack. A studio apartment is likely to have a small stove for cooking, a refrigerator, microwave, and washing machine included.

Finally, self-check-in is extremely common. This can take a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really convenient. The host sends you a code for the lockbox (which will be located near your apartment), you get the key inside the box and let yourself in. Put it back when you check out.

The rules about home sharing have been confusing in Japan, but recently new laws were passed to regulate it. It’s now restricted to certain areas and hosts must get permits in order to operate. Be sure to make sure that you’re staying with a licensed host to avoid any issues.

Hotels

If you prefer to stay in a hotel, Japan has a wide range of options at a variety of price points.

We’ve found that the best booking platform varies quite a bit and we don’t have a single favorite website. Booking.com, hotels.com, and Expedia are what we usually use.

One thing to note is that hotels in Japan often charge by the person, rather than by the room. This has been changing recently, but don’t assume the price you’re quoted is per room. Be sure to put in the correct number of guests when booking and check whether or not you’re seeing the total price, rather than the price per guest.

Ryokans

Another type of lodging is called a ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese guest house. Ryokan’s tend to be expensive, but if you want to experience traditional Japanese hospitality you should definitely stay in one.

Often, they are located in places with beautiful natural surroundings.

In our onsen article, we mentioned Japan’s natural hot springs and why you should visit one. If you do, this is the perfect time to try staying in a ryokan.