Individuals opening their private homes for travelers is nothing new to Japan. During the Edo Period (1615-1868), travelers such as the famed Matsuo Basho, on his journey to the far north, made use of the minpaku system.

While similar networks sprung up independently in many countries, the modern standard and the name — bed and breakfast, B&B or, more recently, BnB — were established in Britain after World War II. Today, the stereotypical "Vacancy" and "No vacancy" signs flapping in the wind have taken to the air. Travelers preferring a more homey atmosphere, a cheaper room, a country chalet — or even a night in a yurt or tent — are turning to Airbnb as they plan out their next trips.

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