What is a hostel you may ask (not to be mistaken for a hotel)? Hostels provide budget oriented lodging and I personally consider them to be the best form of lodging for students and people traveling alone or in small groups in Japan. Why? Because they’re cheap! Super cheap! They are also clean, safe, and a good way to meet new people.
Hostels come in all shapes and sizes. From a person’s house with some extra rooms to a full scale dormitory setting, hostels are the place to go if you can accept communal housing. The cheapest option is almost always a dorm-room setting with up to 8 people in the same room. There are usually female-only rooms available, but sometimes there are not.
All of the hostels I visited in Japan offered free wi-fi, public computers, nice lobbies, and kitchens. But you will have to share communal showers and bathrooms. It’s not so bad though, there are usually several restrooms and showers available on each floor of the hostel. The prices of most hostels are really good as well. It can be as low as ¥2,000 (approx. $20) per person per night. Granted that would be in a room with seven other people, but still that’s some serious savings!
However, if sleeping in the same room with seven other people isn’t your cup of tea, many hostels also offer private rooms for two or four people. Granted, these rooms are much more expensive than the dorm setting, and while you do get your own private room, chances are you will still have the share a bathroom with the rest of the guests. Another thing to note is that some hostels do not allow anyone under the age of 18.
So if you find that you do want to enjoy the savings and are willing to try staying at a hostel where can you find them? There will be several in the major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, and there is usually at least one or two in mid-size and smaller cities throughout Japan. However, there may be locations during your travels (especially in small towns) where there aren’t any hostels at all and you will have to opt for a more expensive hotel. The two websites I found the best to make reservations are include: www.hostelbookers.com and www.hostelworld.com.