Nowadays, it is difficult to reserve accommodations such as hotels and ryokans (Japanese style inns) because the number of tourists visiting Japan has increased rapidly. Since hotels and ryokans have high lodging costs, many foreign tourists use private vacation rentals (called minpaku) where it is easy to book and cheap rates; has attracted many people. According to a survey by the Japan Tourism Agency, the number of foreign tourists who used private vacation rentals was 10.5% in April-June 2017, but it rose sharply to 14.9% in July-September 2017. As the number of foreign visitors to Japan is likely to increase in the future for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it is expected that more and more foreigners will stay there.
Private vacation rentals refer to staying in a common house. It brings benefits to both sides: the user and the owner. The users can stay reasonably and the owners are able to earn income from lodging. However, unlike in hotels and ryokans, private vacation rentals are mostly owned by individuals, not companies, so there are some risks in terms of support and guarantees. For example, it can be said "the actual room is different from the picture", "the host's response is not good", "I can not contact the host suddenly" etc. Therefore, you need to choose carefully when using it.
In Japan, the “household accommodation business law (new minpaku law)”, which obligates owners to pre-register and set rules regarding security and hygiene management was newly enforced in June 2019. With the new law, illegal private vacation rentals are expectedly reduced so foreigners can use them safely. Working holiday and foreign students also have the option of using as a temporary residence until finding a room.
This article explains how to use private vacation rentals at cheap rates. We also explain the advantages and disadvantages of using it and some points to be careful when travelers look for private vacation rentals. We pick up a recommended booking website where you can search and book cheap vacation rentals. Regardless of your working holiday, study abroad, or sightseeing in Japan, those who are looking for Japanese accommodation that can stay at cheap rates should consider using this special offer.
What Kind of Vacation Rentals Can Foreigners Stay at Cheap Rates?
A vacation rental (minpaku) is a generic term for the service of staying in a private apartment or a private house, not in accommodation such as a hotel or ryokan. There are two types of residences: a "landlord residence type" where the landlord stays with the guest, and a "landlord absentee type" where the landlord does not stay. In addition, "experience-based accommodation" for experiencing agriculture and fishery in the countryside of Japan can be said to be one of the popular types.
Recommended Vacation Rentals Booking Website
STAY JAPAN is Japan's first booking website specializing in legal vacation rentals that meet the certification criteria such as "two nights and three days or more to stay" and "well-known to neighbors". Although the number of registered facilities is small because only legal ones are covered, even foreigners who are new to Japan can use them safely and easily. There are various types of registered private lodging facilities: urban houses, guest houses, traditional Japanese houses, resort villas, and fishing and farmer's guest houses in the countryside. It is easy to find a place that suits your purpose, such as temporary accommodation during business trips, rural experiences, sightseeing, and room search.
A private vacation rentals booking site operated by Expedia, the world's leading online travel service. More than one million facilities are listed in 190 countries worldwide, and it supports 16 currencies such as US Dollar, Japanese Yen, Taiwan Dollar, and Chinese Yuan. You can select Japanese, English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese pages when using this website. You can reserve a whole house, so it is recommended to stay in groups such as families or friends. As used by a large number of people, you can save money for accommodation fees.
The Advantages and Disadvantages for Using Vacation Rentals
- Cheap rate
The hotel and ryokan charge to each person so that the accommodation charge is normally very expensive. Compared to those accommodations, the lodging rates of vacation rentals tend to be overwhelmingly lower. In addition, it will be cheaper if you stay with many people because they normally set the rate for each room, not each person. For those who are traveling with friends or families, it would be nice to save a lot on accommodation expenses.
- Flexible check-in and check-out times
Check-in and check-out times for private vacation rentals are often set to the same time as hotels, but some are flexible. If you have some request, you'd better check to the host before booking.
- Special experiences at only there
Unlike hotels located near tourist areas and stations, many of the private vacation rentals are in ordinary residential areas, so you can touch the daily landscape of Japan and experience the familiarity of Japanese life. In addition, many private vacation rentals provide a kitchen and cooking devices. As buying food at a nearby supermarket and enjoying it, you can experience the ordinary Japanese lifestyle. The experience is very fascinating.
- Many options
There are many options for people staying in Japan, and it should be more enjoyable to stay in Japan by using various types of accommodations. From shared rooms to fully furnished single-family homes, villas and old houses, choose homestay facilities that suit the purpose and number of people in your trip.
- Language barrier
In the case of a hotel, there is a front desk staff who can speak English, Chinese, or other languages but when staying in a private vacation rental, it is necessary to check the host about check-in time and key delivery method. Foreigners who can not speak Japanese may not be able to communicate depending on the language skills of the host. When using a night stay, choose a host that can communicate in English, Chinese, or so.
- Possibly bad location
Many of the private accommodation facilities are ordinary apartments, so they are not only located in front of the station like hotels. Access information such as how many minutes you walk from the station is displayed. However, for foreigners who are not familiar with the station in Japan, it may take longer because you will have a heavy suitcase and walk while checking the way. You should be careful about that.
Many Japanese hotels and ryokans come with amenities such as toothbrushes, towels, and shampoos. However, these amenities may not be available for people staying at private vacation rentals. In addition, there is no service for changing sheets and cleaning when staying for a long time. If you are concerned, check the equipment list on the booking website in advance and ask the host.
- Self-responsibility is the basis for support when problems occur
Most vacation rentals are run by individuals, so if there is a problem, you need to solve it with yourself and the host. In order to avoid these troubles, you should stay at a legal private vacation rental that has a permit or certificate. Otherwise, use a private accommodation facility booking website that supports you. Also, in case of getting some trouble, it is better to make a preliminary check so that you can use other accommodation.
Points When Looking for a Lodging
Check the past user reviews and try to use highly rated services
Be sure to check other people's reviews before making a reservation. By reading the reviews firmly, you can get information about the surrounding environment, distance from the train station, hospitality of the host. It is necessary to choose a highly evaluated facility by reading the reviews carefully.
Contact the host once before booking
It is recommended to send a message to the host before booking when you find an interesting vacation rental. Tell the host before booking if you have any concerns or questions. You can also determine the host's personality, atmosphere, and whether it suits you from the host's response.
Check the type of private vacation rental
Private vacation rentals are roughly divided into whole house rental, private rooms, and share rooms. For those who are concerned about safety, it is recommended to use the whole house rental or private rooms. Also, if a woman is staying alone, it is better to reserve a female host or a woman-only stay.
Recommended Vacation Rentals Booking Website for Foreigners
The first website specialized in reserving legal private vacation rentals in Japan. You can easily register for free with a Facebook account. The service is free. You can search by specifying conditions such as area, charge, and service. The search results are sorted by recommended, word-of-mouth, order-sorted, etc. It is easy to find private vacation rentals that meet your needs. They offer online support 24 hours a day, 365 days in Japanese, English, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese.
Private vacation rentals reservation website corresponding to 13 languages, such as Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean. As it supports various languages, it is easy for foreigners to use. You can easily register for free by using your email address or Facebook account. A credit card or PayPal is available for the payment methods. It supports payments in 16 currencies including US Dollar, Japanese Yen, Taiwan Dollar, and Chinese Yuan. It is nice to have a wide range of facilities such as campers, villas, ships, as well as single houses and apartments.
It is the largest private lodging reservation website all over the world. You can receive free accommodation tickets by inviting friends. Both the host and the guest need to present an identity verification, and the profile is also displayed. There are many “private room” types of accommodation in a single apartment, so it is good for foreigners traveling alone.
TIPSCautions when using a vacation rental
- Follow the rules that the host decided firmly.
- Unlike hotels and ryokans, vacation rentals are in quiet residential areas. Even if you speak a little voice at night, it sounds loud. Because of that, you might get into trouble so you should be quit.
- In Japan, the rules for sorting trash are strict, so sort it firmly.
- Be careful not to dirt the common space, as other guests staying at "private rooms" or "shared rooms" types of vacation rentals also use there.