Japan’s vacation rental sector: Your home away from home

WeXpats
2020/09/09

Finding accommodation in Japan is easy nowadays, offering great rates. The country’s steadfast real estate sector provides a variety of choices, including comfortable vacation rentals. Known for the suitability with customer’s demands with easy and secure booking, many tourists have been using them as a part of their dream trips.


Table of Contents


Introducing Vacation Rentals

There are many tourist attractions in the world, and Japan counts as one of the top tourist destinations. And who can blame tourists? Japan is a site to behold! Home to 23 World Heritage sites, including the Himeji Castle and Nara, Japan, Japan offers a variety of breathtaking sites, exhilarating activities, and mouth-watering food to foreigners. Other popular tourist attractions in Japan are the ever-bustling city of Tokyo and the peaceful Kyoto, the metropolitan capital and cultural capital of Japan.

Even though Japan can be a pretty expensive country, there are a variety of ways that tourists can afford to visit Japan, especially its living accommodations. Gone are the days where tourists have to resort to  fancy hotels while touring Japan. Nowadays, vacation rentals are all the rave as it offers a more cost-efficient method to temporarily reside in Japan while on a trip. 

The concept of a vacation rental is relatively simple. A homeowner would rent out a residential property, usually a condominium, a house, or a furnished apartment as an alternative to a hotel. This is often rented out by tourists as a more cost-efficient alternative to expensive hotels in Japan. This is known as 民泊 (minpaku) in Japanese.

Vacation Rentals vs Hotel Accommodation

Here are key differences to help you decide whether to stay at vacation rentals or hotel accommodations in Japan.

In-house amenities

Hotels would usually offer in-house amenities such as towels, coffee, bottled water, and basic toiletries at the onset of your stay, and these get refilled each day of your stay. Most would also provide these amenities for vacation rentals in Japan, but some amenities will not get replenished during your stay. For example, towels will be provided at the onset of your stay, and a laundry area will also be available for you to wash your towels and clothes if needed.

Check if the vacation rental provides beds as futons may be offered instead in Japan, especially in more traditional homes. For those who have a preference, it’s best not to be caught off guard when you arrive after a long trip.

Dining Services

Hotels pride themselves on the food they offer. Breakfast buffets are a norm for hotels, and room service is also offered as an option for those who want to take their meals in the comfort of their rooms. Hotels usually do not offer a kitchen space where guests can cook their own meals. For vacation rentals, however, meals are not provided but on the other hand, guests can prepare and cook their own meals. Take-out meals are permitted, of course!

Cleaning Services

Hotel services provide 24/7 cleaning services with just a quick phone call from the guests. For vacation rentals, there are a specific duration of stay where cleaning services are offered for free. Usually, it would take a minimum of three (3) nights before owners or agencies of the vacation rentals in Japan will offer free cleaning services during the stay, so guests usually just clean up after themselves. 

Check-in Procedure

Some hotels accept walk-in guests if their accommodations permit. Others do accept reservations, and payment can be made either during check-in or even after check-out. On the other hand, vacation rentals always require a reservation and deposit fee, even before a guest would check-in.

Noise

Because hotel rooms are adjacent to each other, there are times that people can hear unnecessary noise. Most vacation rentals, on the other hand, would offer privacy for guests like a real home! Because of this, vacation rentals, especially those away from the bustling city, are considered more private and intimate. However, in the city, please be aware of your noise level as apartment walls can be quite thin at times.

Vacation rentals attract all tourists and short-term visitors of any age. Typically, it would be the late twenties to thirties who would often enjoy the luxuries that vacation rentals offer. Vacation rentals in Japan are often located on the outskirts of the city - usually by the countryside or seaside with spectacular, breathtaking views. Because of the recent boom of tourism in Japan, more and more homeowners offer vacation rentals within the city.

Finding vacation rentals in Japan

Most vacation rentals are located in the hotspot tourist areas such as Tokyo and Kyoto. Tokyo would offer a more modern look and feel apartments to complement the hustling busy Tokyo life. On the other hand, Kyoto takes a more traditional route to match its peaceful and serene vibe. Kyoto offers traditional townhouses as vacation rentals to foreigners and tourists in additional to city apartments. Farmhouses are also rented out for tourists who would want a taste of Japan's scenic views. However please be aware that such houses are often further out from the city or main tourist areas and the details should be checked accordingly. 

There are many ways to book vacation rentals in Japan. There are famous booking apps and websites which make browsing and reserving a breeze on vacation rentals such as AirBnb, Booking.com, Expedia, Wagaya Japan, Rakuten Stay, Wimdu, VRBO, HomeAway, HomeToGo and more. These booking sites cater to guests' specific preferences in terms of the location, the number of rooms and guests, luxuries or amenities offered, price range, and some even pet-friendly vacation rentals for fur moms and dads. Also, it’s best to check reviews of the vacation rentals before booking to make sure the chosen accommodation fits your needs.

Cost comparison with hotels

The cost of vacation rentals in Japan is considerably more cost-effective as compared to luxury hotels. Cost can range from 2500 yen (when you can find a great deal!) to 15000 yen per night for a room, depending on the location of the vacation rental and the amenities offered. Some vacation rentals would also offer discounted rates for long-term monthly stays. Aside from the basic amenities that hotels offer, such as an office space, a bed, TV, and a clean restroom, vacation rentals also often offer kitchen and laundry spaces. 

Reminders about vacation rentals

Before making a transaction with a homeowner to reserve your accommodation, best is to reserve on trusted websites such as those mentioned above. Also, make sure that the vacation rental you are reserving is registered with the Japanese government. One way to ensure credibility is to ask for a copy of their registration number politely. 

The general requirement to book the vacation rentals is your passport. Some homeowners require tourists and foreigners to prepare other documents before making a reservation which may be your Japan itinerary and tourist visa at the minimum. 

As a tourist or foreigner in Japan, you should also be aware of Japan’s customs. Common etiquette for guests visiting in Japan in most vacation rentals would be to keep noise at the very minimum. Make sure that after your stay, you have sorted and disposed of your garbage properly.

Prices are also often based on the convenience so before booking, please make sure that you know how far the accommodation is from the nearest station or where you’d like to be, as often times, the most tempting prices also require a trek from the station or have other features that may not be suitable for your needs. 

Summary

Japan offers a wide variety of scenic tourist attractions that people all over the world fly to come and witness. And while Japan is considered an expensive country, there are many available options such as vacation rentals, that foreigners can avail of to enjoy everything that Japan has to offer. There are also many benefits of availing of vacation rentals as compared to luxury hotels in Japan. Aside from it being cost-effective, foreigners can also have the privacy needed in vacation rentals. Dining and food options can potentially be unlimited in vacation rentals as guests can cook inside most of their rented units. These are some of the reasons why foreigners would opt to avail vacation rentals as opposed to hotels in Japan. How about you?  Would you choose to stay in a home-away-from-home type of accommodation? We would!

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WeXpats
Here to provide a variety of articles from useful information about life, working, and studying in Japan to Japan's charms and attractive qualities.

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