Travelling on the cheap? Have no problems with claustrophobia? Then capsule hotels could be for you. Japan is famous for this ultra-small accommodation style, where travellers sleep in tiny pods that have no more than a curtain for privacy. Vending machines sell cheap snacks and drinks, and there are shared bathing facilities. It’s a memorable experience, if nothing else.
Many resort town hotels, both Western-style and Japanese, will have their own onsen, or hot-spring bath. Entry is included in the room rate and is unlimited. Be warned: you’ll be expected to go completely naked in shared (though gender-specific) facilities, and travellers with tattoos may be banned.
Though these cafes, usually only found in large cities, are ostensibly there to sell comics and provide spaces for customers to read them, they also have private rooms, with sofas and computers, that can be rented in 24-hour blocks, providing cheap – if not exactly luxurious – lodgings for more adventurous travellers.
Need to know
While major Western-style hotels and smaller establishments in big cities will have English speakers on staff, at ryokans and minshukus you may have to fumble your way through using sign language and a translating app. When staying anywhere with tatami-mat floors, always take your shoes off at the entrance before stepping on the mats. At budget inns you’ll also be expected to set up your own futon – the mattress and bedding will be rolled up and stored in a cupboard during the day. Importantly, remember to relax – foreign visitors are expected to make mistakes, and the locals will forgive any faux pas.
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