The first two stereotypical comments on this would be the size
of the rooms, and the cost. Well, there's certainly a higher price
to a downtown apartment in one of the world's largest metropolis
than in the suburbs or surrounding cities, but even so the cost
can be cut down with some research beforehand.
First of all, don't plan on finding accommodation once you arrive.
The rate in which hotels will bill you a room if you just walk
in from the streets can be one and a half to double the cost for
the same compared to reserving it on the Internet. And this is
to be taken seriously. Unless you're ready for bargaining with
the people at the counter it's unlikely that they'll go easy on
you just because you didn't know.
Service in general is great to outstanding for most hotels, with
many of them not just in compliance of international and Japanese
standards, but also competing in the elegant race of ( a quite
intense ) national and international tourism. There's a lot of
attention for every single detail. However you will of course
pay the proper price for this as everywhere else in the world.
In case the high-end hotel option doesn't fit your purse, you
can head for a business hotel. Service there is in one word...
okay... and in case you aim even lower in budget expect that other
hotels like love hotels and capsule hotels which are NOT the cheapest
option by the way, have service literally nonexistent... or in
other words sometimes completely automated. Try to choose the
right place based on what level of service and help you like,
your budget, and your need for the right surroundings, and in
case all of these three are low then your tolerance level... but
in one word, in case you actually HAVE the money to stay in a
good hotel you'll find beautiful places with great service, truly
helpful, polite and even cheerful staff, at scenic locations that
you'll never forget.
Budget-wise... ( since you're already reading up on the article...
Guidebooks, in case you have any... have extensive lists, as up
to date as your edition, on which hotel fits which budget. In
general the smallest room that still is somewhere near a major
line of transportation will cost at least four thousand yen per
night. Which doesn't sound much until you see the actual room
you get for this. A good option if you have to stay at a hotel
at all, is to find a midrange priced room near but not in downtown
of anything from six to ten thousand yen per night, for which
you'll probably even get a window or balcony, and some meal(s)
included. The same price in downtown will hardly get you any view,
and only if you're lucky will you be able to open the window,
if there is any, but it's not quite the trend due to fire prevention.
Probably because of its unbelievable number of people commuting
to, coming to on business trips from all across the country and
the world... the center of any downtown in Tokyo is not a good
option for just anyone. Meaning in case you'd like to be within
one to ten minutes walking distance from a major train station
like Shinjuku or Shibuya, you'll pay one and a half to three times
as much for the same room than let's say... for the same but fifteen
minutes away on foot. In case you don't have to pinpoint every
single item on your agenda down to each second, you may want to
choose places like the latter, for they offer much larger and
much more comfortable rooms for the same price than their downtown
cousins. Apart of this, all western style hotels feature a bath,
or at least a shower unit, a toilet, a bed, TV, most of them offer
free Internet, are equipped with a freezer, hair dryer, and have
the usual toiletries prepared every day along with a yukata and
As mentioned before reservation made in advance, preferably through
the Internet, is the best way to cut back on costs. You'll find
that most hotels have a set of dates even within their set seasons
in which their rooms will be different in price. National holidays,
and weekends in general are sometimes charged at a higher rate
due to the higher demand... but following this logic you'll learn
that outside the major tourists seasons the cost drops by about
ten to thirty percent for nearly any kind of accommodation. Also,
most of the time the longer period you reserve your room for the
bigger discount you can expect. There are lots of such offers
you can keep an eye out for. Mainly aimed at national instead
of international tourists, you may need some help when planning
ahead in case you don't speak the language, but do ask for it,
Japanese people are kind in general and will probably gladly help.
When doing reservation through the Internet you may find that
there are lots of websites in English that the largest Japanese
travel agencies operate. Please see the tips
and resources page for more information on them. In general
it is to be mentioned though that no English language version
seems to be as up to date or detailed in its functionality as
their Japanese counterparts... basically because of having them
focused on the migration of Japanese tourists who in fact... love
to travel through the country.
Other than hotels... ( recommended )
If you're planning your stay with the lowest possible budget and
the longest possible period in mind, instead of a hotel you ought
to consider either of the following options ...
Rent an apartment
Some agencies that specialize in Tokyo apartments are fully prepared
to lease places to people with no credit, to people they can not
check the financial background of ( by other means than asking
them to pay up front ), and no guarantor or key money. Of which
both are quite high, sometimes equals three month's rent which
you need to pay before you even set your foot into the room. These
agencies take all the responsibilities, provide all necessary
documents towards the owner in the background and all you see
from the process is the money you pay for the actual rent, and
the key you get in exchange. Shortest period to rent an apartment
is a month... but even if you're actually staying less than thirty
days you may want to consider this option.
A single room will cost anything from sixty thousand to two-hundred
and fifty-thousand yen, depending on its size and location, but
what every single one of them will feature is equipment and furniture.
Most of them even have either DSL, cable or wireless Internet
connection, unlimited use and for no extra charge. But in general
a TV, a bed, table, chair(s), kitchen equipment, bath, toilet,
microwave, air conditioner and washing machine are all what you
don't need to deal with... unless of course you happen to break
any of them. For a price close to hundred-thousand yen you'll
get a fairly good location. Breaking down this cost to a daily
figure you'll find that it's much more economical than getting
the same service in a hotel. The agency we recommend for Tokyo
is Sakura House ( sakura-house.com
) with about a thousand different facilities all over the city,
offering not only apartments but shared rooms and guest house
accommodation as well. More on this later in this section. But
all in all, for anyone visiting or staying for a longer period,
if you're missing the financial background to rent an apartment
from a Realtor... this is the ideal option.
Not as scary as it sounds, the idea is to share an apartment,
meaning to have your own room, with its own lock of course, but
share some facilities like the kitchen, bathroom or toilet ( or
any combination of the above ) with someone. Someone usually of
similar circumstances, thus be ready for students from all around
the world majoring in anything from art to electric engineering,
be about twenty to thirty and share a somewhat adventurous philosophy.
This is of course not the only possible room mate you can meet
but a the chances are pretty high. Shared rooms are often located
even more towards the city centers than apartments you can rent
with no hassle, and offer a good base to go on exploring, head
out for school or work. With prices ranging from about forty to
eighty-thousand yens the cost can be as low as of a hostel, with
a much more relaxed and personal atmosphere to it.
If this name wasn't suggestive enough already try your Japanese
by saying gaijinhouse... as if it was a Japanese word in the first
place. These facilities are the cheapest possible option that
will allow you to rest on a bed, second to the hostel networks
which are also quite heavily represented all across Japan. If
you're traveling to Tokyo with some friends and not much of a
budget, you could rent a room with two, four, six to eight beds
to have a place to rest in between adventures. And even if you're
by yourself... well then the idea is that if you're truly a curious
person, not just you won't mind, but probably even enjoy the fact
that you're sharing the same room with a person or people, since
there's a high chance you'll meet up with others who are just
as curious and adventure-loving as you are.
These facilities are well equipped, clean, and looked after by
the proper staff, most of them offer meals for some extra and
are sometimes like their alpine resort counterparts that will
make you feel like you're on a school trip... with a twist that
you mistook the bus you got on and headed out with a different
class. TV, Internet, bathrooms, coin laundry, toilets, kitchen(s),
lounges are a given most of the time, and even though you probably
have to keep your own little corner clean by yourself it's probably
great fun... if you're up for such fun.
Well of course the main idea here isn't just an opportunity to
get to know people of similar interests but the cost. There's
probably not even a hostel that will beat the price which broken
down to a daily fee equals in between one to two thousand yens
at most. But even if some hostels did go below this figure, the
atmosphere of a gaijinhouse beats them headlong. Or... at least
it is said so. For gaijin at least... which in case you really
didn't know thus far is short for foreigner. So short that it
literally means outside-person.
Regarding single room sizes... the ones you are most likely encounter
In case you're a visitor, temporary or brand new resident you
are more likely be staying in a smaller apartment or room than
a family resort. But as your own little retreats from the vibrant
life of the streets they will perfectly serve this purpose. Most
of the single-room apartments are somewhat smaller in square meters
than of those in Europe or in America but this in our opinion
is only due to the fact that many, many people try to coexist
in the downtown of the capital sharing similar circumstances.
A central area in Tokyo isn't only the middle of just any city,
it's the innermost hub of both the capital and a good percentage
of world economy and culture... well you can imagine how many
people arrive and try themselves on these stages at the same time.
The result is that the need for cheaper apartments is high, thus
there can't be too much of large unused spaces in such residences
to create an atmosphere of something else than... an actual apartment.
The price versus the size and level of comfort are equally bonded
to just how far the location is from the center, so in case you
don't mind an extra fifteen to forty-five minutes of commuting,
you can get a much bigger place for the same cost.
These typical city rooms are functional and comfortable, and
while lacking the illusion of a private "castle" they
never fail to deliver the feeling of a separate own world in which
you can finally rest, work, study, entertain yourself, cook or
just do as you please. The thing why this doesn't seem to be bothering
most people, lies in the most common reason why you'd actually
need a castle for, elsewhere. There's simply no need to set huge
walls between you and the world because the outside isn't unpleasant
or dangerous. People are quite reserved and polite in all neighborhoods
considering their own lifestyle and privacy of others, and with
the crime rate at a world-bottom level you just don't need to
lock yourself up together with everything you'd need to feel good.
But before you get it wrong, all this means is that decorative
open spaces are moved from behind the apartment walls to the other
side, being available for anyone, with no real reasons you could
think of why not to use them. And for those who live downtown
in western cities this may sound a bit like an excuse or idealism.
But when staying in Tokyo without a strong background, it's pretty
much common sense... a fragile but nonetheless working example
on how to be a part of and independent from the city in the best
And before you get the image of Tokyo being cramped... this note
is to be considered only for downtown, for those who can only
afford middle class accommodation. There are great hotels, apartments
for rent of middle to large to downright overkill, spacious ryokans
even within the city, and many other options for those who are
willing to give it some search and pay the price.
Visa, border entry, what to bring and be prepared with
- Japanese maps,
Navi mobile navigation, easy orientation for travelers
stores, the resupply stations that sell everything
- Japanese Vending
machines, for drinks, tickets, cigarettes and more
- Japanese Food, and
all kinds of food in Japan, restaurants, fast food, cheap food...
- Tokyo - as we see it
- Budget Tokyo
apartment rental, accommodation, let go of the concern
- Tokyo Prices, the
real cost vs. western legends, how to make most of your budget
- Cheap Tokyo Stores, bargain
tips, where to find what, fashion to electronics
- Tokyo Cafe life, a
guide to Cafes serving as meeting points, hangouts and life-savers
- Tokyo Parks
and Gardens, well maintained icons of tranquility, tradition
or having fun
- The Tokyo crowd...
escaping from Tokyo to Tokyo, evading downtown rushhours