We’ve shown you how to save money in Japan, now Becki Enright of Borders of Adventure reveals the best places stay when you’re on a budget. Follow @bordersofadventure and catch her on Facebook for more awesome travel advice.
Travelling in Japan is an unforgettable experience and my month there counts as one of my best on the road to date.
From the bright lights of Tokyo to the old, wooden house-lined alleyways of Kyoto, to beaches, mountains and little towns in between, the varying landscape and experiences along the way are nothing short of spectacular.
Known to be pricey in comparison to other countries in Asia, the cost of travelling in Japan (which amounted to approximately £1,700 over four weeks including the cost of a three-week rail pass) is worthy of the incredible time you will have there, so don't let it put you off.
When it comes to accommodation costs however, Japan is quickly responding to the needs of budget travellers, with old houses and traditional Ryokan being preserved and turned into homely hostels and guesthouses. Larger hostels, including some on the more luxurious side (but still low cost) are also easily found in the bigger cities.
I checked out the following accommodation options across Japan, on a journey that took me from Tokyo and all the way down to Hiroshima, to bring you the pick of the crop.
So, grab your JR Rail Pass (which you will need to book via a travel agent before your arrival in Japan) and get planning. Japan is now on the backpacking trail for those looking for a new adventure that not many have had before…
I fell in love with Tokyo instantly and spent a week there in total. It’s fast-paced, yet serene and the perfect starting point from which to acquaint yourself with the mad and mannered contrasts of Japan.
Neon lights, huge pedestrian walkways, vending machines on every street corner, traditional Japanese gardens and dinner with robots… this is where the most random things happen.
Av. Cost for hostels in Tokyo: JP¥3124 per night
Homeikan – A traditional Ryokan, said to be one of the oldest in Japan. Prepare for fresh tea served daily, an onsen bath and the chance to lounge in your yakata (robe) after a long day of sightseeing. More info
Hotel Asakusa & Capsule – Capsules are normally used by locals who miss the last train home and need a cheap means of accommodation, although the unique experience is a must-do on many travellers’ to-do lists in Japan! More info
Khaosan Laboratory – Decked in a rainbow of colours, this funky hostel is for those looking for something snazzy and fun. From More info
Ann Hostel – A small, homely hostel, which still retains a traditional Japanese feel and which is popular with international travellers. More info
I’d always wanted to climb Mount Fuji and being so close to Tokyo there was really no excuse not to get up close to Japan’s most-loved natural wonder.
Even if you don't want to climb, you can still visit the Mountain’s Fifth Station for a stroll (entrance is free) or visit the great lakes and incredible landscape that surround Fuji-San - think fresh air and postcard-worthy landscapes.
Av. Cost for hostels in Mount Fuji : JP¥2887 per night
K’s House, Mt. Fuji – This hostel is located right in the heart of the Fuji area and in close proximity to the lakes and transport links to Fuji’s Fifth Station – the starting point for climbing. The staff can also help you plan your Mt Fuji climb experience should you be brave enough to conquer Japan’s highest peak! More info
Ito, on the Izu Peninsula, is perfect for a little beach getaway. Whilst this isn’t a white-sand beach with glowing crystal blue waters, it is a vibrant onsen filled seaside town which a great vibe. A one-hour train journey south of the peninsula is Shimoda, a stunning port town and home to one of Japan’s most beautiful beaches, which makes for an easy day trip.
Av. Cost for hostels in Izu Peninsula: JP¥3750 per night
K’s House – Combining a hostel atmosphere and facilities within a beautiful, 100 year old Ryokan, this really is tradition at an affordable price. More info
Everything you’ve ever imagined ‘old’ Japan to be is here, and especially in the geisha district of Gion where you can loose yourself within the narrow alleyways and amongst the old wooden houses, where you can hopefully spot a Maiko (an apprentice geisha) on her way to work. Much of your time will be spent at temples, shrines and immaculate gardens, but it doesn’t get more stunning than Kyoto. Certainly not a place to be missed.
Av. Cost for hostels in Kyoto: JP¥2888 per night
Santiago Guesthouse – A new offering which opened in April 2013, Santiago is a former pottery workshop now spacious, modern hostel and stunning café. Don’t say I didn't warn you about the incredible food and cheesecake on offer. More info
Kyoto Piece Hostel – A luxury hostel, with a swanky hotel vibe, which also opened in April 2013. Expect classy black and white décor and gorgeous lounge spaces. This is also ideally based a few minutes walk from Kyoto train station. More info
Khaosan Kyoto – A no-frills budget hostel option, this is an ideal budget option or those wanting to be right in the middle of the Gion action. More info
Haruya Aqua – An old Japanese house converted into a small, homely guesthouse, which includes a snug, but comfortable dorm room. This is a temple hoppers dream and is located within walking distance to three of Kyoto’s top temple sites. More info
Utano Youth Hostel – A traditional ‘youth hostel’, which attracts families and large groups, Utano is located in the north of Kyoto for easy access to sightseeing areas outside of the central city. More info
Famous for its deer, which you can feed and pet to your heart’s content, Nara is one of Japan’s main cultural hubs, alongside Kyoto. It’s an easy day-trip from Kyoto, but I choose to stay here overnight and spend two days leisurely biking and walking through the stunning parkland where all the main sights are based, including the Giant Buddha in Todai-ji Temple.
Av. Cost for hostels in Nara: JP¥2305 per night
Nara Backpackers – A traditional Japanese house, turned guesthouse, this hostel is only meters from the main park and all the key sights. With live-in staff, this place is great if are looking for a ‘homestay’ style accommodation option. More info
Osaka is a young, fun and funky city, which really comes to life at night. The Dotonbori area is alive and buzzing as soon as the sun goes down, where giant sea creatures, dragons and other oddities protrude from the glowing walls of the busy streets. Restaurants, bars, arcades and shopping malls are in abundance and if you don’t have fun in the entertainment district filled Osaka, you are not doing it right!
Av. Cost for hostels in Osaka: JP¥9525 per night
Osaka Hana Hostel – A new offering from the J-Hoppers chain, right in the heart of the vibrant America-Mura district of the city, and within walking distance of with easy access to the metro. More info
J-Hoppers Osaka – An out of town hostel based in nearby Fukushima, this is close to the shopping district of Umeda and an ideal base for transport connections to other main destinations. More info
Famous for it’s amazing beef, which you can sample at a great price at Steak Land restaurant, small-town Kobe is a cosmopolitan restaurant and café heaven. It also has a rather odd, yet fascinating neighbourhood called Kitano, whose European style houses and western atmosphere transports you out of Japan for while. Eat some more at the town’s bustling Chinatown, a short walk from ‘Harbour Land’ - a mishmash of malls, exhibition spaces and quirky architecture.
Av. Cost for hostels in Kobe: JP¥3035 per night
Yume Nomad – Once a huge Japanese house in the former trading district of Kobe, this private home turned guesthouse keeps it Japanese décor as well as boasting its own lounge-style café and coffee expert. More info
A modern city that has risen from the ashes of a devastating nuclear bomb in 1945, you wouldn’t believe that Hiroshima was once completely destroyed. Today, it may be a thriving city but it’s history is profound – you will find yourself spending most your day visiting the Hiroshima Peace Park, where the Atomic Bomb Dome and Museum are both an emotional reminder and lasting memorial to those who perished here. It’s a place you won’t ever forget.
Av. Cost for hostels in Hiroshima: JP¥2457 per night
Miyajima Backpackers – Located next to the Miyajima ferry and only a 30-minute train ride into Hiroshima city, this lively hostel is ideally placed for day trips to both Hiroshima and Miyajima Island. More info
So, are you thinking of going to Japan?
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