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How to Sleep in Japan for Cheap or Free

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Cheap Places to Stay in Japan

This is a guide to cheap or free accommodation in Japan that will fit into just about anyone’s budget. When in Japan, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars per night for a place to sleep, just intermix these options below and travel cheap.

Capsule Hotels

Capsule hotel

This is perhaps one of the strangest and cheapest accommodation options in Japan. Capsule hotels are often just rooms full of human sized dog crates stacked up on top of each other. Though they look at first to be cramped and a touch Abu-Graib, they are actually pretty comfortable. Each crate — or capsule — is provisioned with a television, a radio, and climate control. You get just about everything a hotel room has to offer in the size of a dog crate. Expect to pay $25 to $40 per night.

Internet cafe

When looking for a cheap place to sleep in Japan and you don’t want to shell out for a hotel, guesthouse, or hostel, go to the intenet cafe. Many have private booths with comfortable, lean back chairs, or even couches. Often, you can get an all night rate for around $15. Of course, you also get a computer and the rights to use the internet, watch thousands of movies, and play video games.

Camp

It is possible to camp just about anywhere you can pitch your tent in Japan. Well, if the locals don’t throw you out, that is. When hitchhiking around Japan I would often just camp in the public parks, on the periphery of agricultural fields, or in the woods for free. Only on one occasion was I approached by a local and asked to leave. The trick is to get in after nightfall and get out just after sunrise to avoid detection and potential problems. Read, Camping on the sly, for more on this type of camping.

Hostels

Hostels are truly not cheap in Japan, and I include a description of them here as more of a warning than a recommendation. If going in for a dorm bed in a Japanese hostel, expect to drop $20 to $50. Some dorm beds in this country go for over $100. Stay away.

Guesthouses

Guesthouse in Japan

Need reasonably priced accommodation without breaking the bank? Why pay tourist prices when you can stay in budget guest houses and hotels and pay the prices that the Japanese natives do. So, you want to know more?

Here’s what you do:

  1. Unless you are fluent in reading Japanese Kanji, you will need to install the most useful internet browser to date – Google Chrome. This browser automatically translates any web page for you.
  2. Go to a Japan guesthouse booking website like Japan Guesthouses, Guesthouse Tokyo, Osaka English House, Nichio, Gaijin House, or Jalan.
  3. Enter your accommodation requirements
  4. Prepare to be amazed at the low prices
  5. Make your reservation Just to give you an example, a room for two people in Kyoto (Japanese style with tatami mats and futons) often costs just 4000 Yen a night – that’s 2000 Yen per person in one of the most beautiful Japanese cities! Bargain!

Cheap Accommodation Tips for Japan

  • Longer term stays cheaper- If you are traveling slow, you can make use of long term rates at many guesthouses, or even rent an apartment. I was paying a touch over $300 for a room in a traditional house in Kyoto at one point. So ask for weekly or monthly rates when you hit a place you may like to stay for a while.
  • Shower in bathhouses- If camping on the sly, living under a bridge, in the forest, in the mountains, the internet cafe, or on the side of the highway, make use of bath houses to stay clean. The Japanese, like many other people in this world, don’t care too much for dirty vagabonds. Enjoy the bathhouses for only a few bucks.

More information on how to find cheap accommodation when traveling

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Help other travelers and submit the addresses and web page links to good and cheap hotels, hostels, home stays, all forms of accommodation for travelers in Japan below.

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Filed under: Accommodation, Asia, Japan

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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