More than anywhere in the world, accommodations in Japan can be destinations in themselves. Sure, you can stay in a generic chain hotel in a big city, but you can also choose a secluded ryokan in a hot springs town, a room in a minshuku or farmstay where you’ll be treated like a family guest, or even stay in a Buddhist temple where you can experience the lifestyle of a monk.
Here are some quick definitions of the type of accommodations unique to Japan:
Ryokan are Japanese inns which tend to have Japanese style rooms with tatami mat floors and futon laid out on the floor to sleep on. Ryokan often have their own onsen which are shared by guests, or in high-end rooms, are private. Dinner is usually provided and is served kaiseki style, small and beautiful dishes made with seasonal ingredients.
Minshuku are slightly different from ryokan in that they have more shared facilities (toilets, wash basins, baths) and are generally less luxurious. They can even be a room attached to a family home which can make you feel like a special guest of a Japanese family. Dinner and breakfast are often provided and served home-style.
Farmstays are exactly as they sound, similar to minshuku but on a family farm. The main difference between a farmstay and minshuku is the opportunity (not obligation) for you to participate in a little light farmwork if you desire to experience it.
A kominka is a type of Japanese home traditionally built with a tall thatched roof. Recently, people have been purchasing old kominka and renovating them, making them available as beautiful countryside vacation rentals. Kominka can range from rustic to luxurious depending on the level of renovation done on them.
Once an object of ridicule, capsule hotels have become a sought after experience for many visitors to Japan’s big cities. Modern capsule hotels are clean, reasonably priced, and dare we even say, comfortable and an experience you’ll want to share with your friends back home.