Tokyo is a mecca for technology, fashion and Japanese culture buffs. The city is one of the most exciting in the world, with its rich traditional culture and ultra modern chic. Tokyo is also ranked as one of the most expensive cites in the world to live or stay. Fortunately there are still some places in Tokyo that combine cheap accommodation with a unique Japan experience.
The cheapest places to stay in Tokyo, are hostels or youth hostels. Some hostels offer single rooms and some have dormitory style accommodation. Hostels are also popular with budget Japanese travelers and school groups, so it is important to make bookings in advance, particular around school holidays and Japanese national holidays.
Some youth hostels in Tokyo and Japan have fairly strict rules, such as a curfew, so it is important to check if a place has any strict rules if you are planning on going out and sampling some of Tokyo's nightlife.
Tourists visiting Japan for the first time should definitely consider staying in a traditional ryokan or Japanese inn. Ryokans differ from typical hotels in that the rooms are Japanese style. The rooms are "zen mini
Some ryokans have a private bathroom, while others have shared bath. Outside of Tokyo, many ryokans have natural hot springs for bathing. It is important to note that Japanese wash and rinse their bodies with soap and shampoo outside of the bath, before getting in, to preserve the cleanliness of the bath water. More traditional places will also only have Japanese style squat toilets, which may take some getting used to. However, more places are also putting in western style toilets as well.
Breakfast is served fairly early in the mornings at ryokans and is usually included in the price of the room. Traditional Japanese breakfasts consist of rice, fish and miso soup. Some more modern places may serve a western breakfast of toast and coffee.
For single travelers on a budget, they may wish to try staying in a capsule hotel in Tokyo. Capsule hotels were built for Japanese salarymen who worked or went out drinking too late and missed their train home. Many workers in Tokyo, have commutes of 1-2 hours, making catching a taxi home prohibitively expensive, and staying overnight in a capsule hotel a cheaper option.
Capsule hotels are nothing more than a tiny "capsule" with just enough room for one person to lie down in. There are no windows, but some are fitted with televisions. Bathing is done in a communal bath. Capsule hotels are mostly for men, but there are a couple of places which cater for women. Luggage is kept in a locker provided. Capsule hotels are a unique Japanese experience, as long as you don't get too claustrophobic!
Another unique form of accommodation in Tokyo are "love hotels". Love hotels are simple rooms rented by the hour during the day. From around 10 pm until 9 or 10 am the next day they can be rented for the whole night. Since many Japanese live with their parents until they get married love hotels are one of the few places for couples to get some quiet time alone. The overnight rate is usually a bit cheaper than standard hotels, but there is no place to keep your luggage during the day.
Tokyo offers an interesting array of accommodation choices for budget travelers. Traditional ryokans, capsule hotels and love hotels are not only unique places to stay in Japan, but are also great for budget travelers.