Traditionally popular with young people, hostels and guesthouses are growing in popularity among middle-aged and elderly people looking for reasonably priced accommodations.
One such guesthouse in Kyoto, called Kazariya, was converted from a 100-year-old private house.
The guesthouse has four rooms, each of which can accommodate two to four people at ¥6,000 to ¥9,000 per night.
A dormitory for women that has three bunk beds is also available for ¥2,500 per person. Guests share a bathroom and a kitchen, and can rent amenities such as towels if they need them. No meals are prepared.
Since its opening in 2009, Kazariya has been particularly popular among women traveling on their own and foreign tourists, mainly from Asia, according to the guesthouse.
“I like this place because I can feel relaxed and comfortable just like when I am in my own room,” said Kaoru Kawakami, 34, a company official from Kawasaki who stays at the guesthouse two to four times a year.
To save management costs, owner Ryoko Uesaka and four other staffers do all the work, including cleaning the rooms and maintaining the garden.
“We hope our guests feel like they’ve become a resident of Kyoto and enjoy their stay,” Uesaka said.
Nui., a hostel in Taito Ward, Tokyo, has a spacious bar lounge on the ground floor where Japanese and foreign guests as well as neighbors can hang out together over coffee during the day and alcoholic beverages in the evening.
“Neighbors who often come to the lounge sometimes take our hostel guests to an ‘izakaya’ bar or karaoke joint,” an employee said.
College students from outside Tokyo often use the hostel when they look for a job in the capital, the employee said.
A dormitory bed for one night is available at ¥2,700 or higher, while a private room runs ¥3,250 or more.
Popular with seniors is the Kitakaruizawa Blueberry Youth Guest House in the village of Tsumagoi, Gunma Prefecture.