What Is…Airbnb in Japan Like?
Airbnb in Japan Like?
THE WORLD OVER, AIRBNB IS GAINING POPULARITY AS AN ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION OPTION. BUT NOT ALL AIRBNB ARE EQUAL. HERE ARE OUR THOUGHTS ON AIRBNB IN JAPAN.
There's no denying that Airbnb provides a wide a range of properties suitable for the budget-conscious to the high rollers and those in between. In Japan, culture and legalities dictate an Airbnb experience unlike that of other countries around the world. While some aspects are applicable across borders, there will be some unfamiliar elements.
From the mundane (like separating trash) to the inexplicable (like the lack of central heating) and the vaguely defined (like rules regarding noise control), it's not a bad idea to be aware of the way properties are presented and how hosts operate on Airbnb in Japan. Though not every point pertains solely to Japan, we've listed our thoughts in the form of a pros/cons list below. Read on to gain a better understanding of Airbnb as an alternative accommodation option when traveling in Japan!
+ Usually more spacious than the average hotel room
Japanese residences are notoriously small, but the hotel rooms are even smaller! In some hotels, space can be so limited that the only place to open your suitcase is on top of your bed. It's best to expect small spaces no matter where you stay but with Airbnb properties, you can expect a little more space for a little less money.
+ Often cheaper than a hotel
You'll need to do your research to determine if this holds true for your circumstances, but Airbnb has accommodation to suit all budgets. For instance, you can get an entire two bedroom apartment that sleeps five in the heart of Roppongi for about $100/night.
+ Location can be very convenient
Since you're staying in apartments and houses, you aren't limited to specific buildings or locations. Whether you're looking to stay in the city center or prefer the peace of the suburbs, Airbnb's search functions and detailed host descriptions allow you to gain a clear idea of an accommodation's location related to factors important to you.
+ Chance to live like the locals do
Many Airbnb properties are located in local neighborhoods (rather than tourist areas), so the surrounding environment may feel more settled down, the neighborhood restaurants may charge less, the people may be friendlier, and the area shops may be more authentic.
+ Different styles of accommodation, including traditional Japanese lodging to contemporary styles
Airbnb offers unique and comfortable spaces beyond cookie-cutter hotel rooms. Whether you're looking for an off-the-grid lodge in the woods, a simple tatami room with futons, or normal beds in the heart of the city, you'll find the right place for you.
+ Provision of useful amenities, such as a washing machine, a kitchen, and portable wifi
Whether you're staying just one night or in it for the long haul, the availability of convenient household appliances and amenities can make your stay more enjoyable. Portable wifi (or "pocket wifi) is also very useful for those visiting from abroad.
+ Meet friendly hosts
Oftentimes, hosts are happy to share a wealth of information and offer personalized suggestions useful in making informed decisions for a good travel experience. Moreover, host recommendations tend to be more authentically local and down to earth, rather than tourist-oriented and trendy.
+ Airbnb customer service
If something isn't the way it should be, Airbnb staff are easy to reach by phone or email and are eager to help. Also, they speak English.
- Properties tend to be poorly insulated
Though hosts are largely not at fault, it's important to note that Japanese properties tend to be poorly insulated in terms of heat and/or noise. Many listings will very explicitly state rules regarding noise control. Central cooling/heating is almost non-existent in Japanese homes; the vast majority of properties will primarily rely on individual wall-units to cool or heat. Entering a home that is hotter or colder than the outdoors can be annoying and some units take a long time to perform their function, or come with very complex remote controls.
- Japanese-style accommodation and amenities can feel very small
From the actual square footage to the door frames, shower stalls, and kitchen counter, things in Japan are often built with compactness in mind. It doesn't take much to feel cramped in Japan and if you're taller, wider, or heavier than a 10 year old child, you can expect to feel like an obnoxious giant at some point.
- Photos misrepresent the property and/or its description online
Many listings have professional (or near professional) photos of the property. Posted images often portray properties in the best light possible and might gloss over less visible details, such as poor upkeep, inadequate room temperature control, a shabby exterior, or location in a shady neighborhood.
- Lodging has massive cleaning fees and a lot of rules
At many properties, you'll be charged cleaning fees, service fees, or both starting from ¥2,000 to ¥9,000 or more. You'll also be expected to take your shoes off at the door, keep the place tidy, and/or separate your trash. Moreover, some properties are operating covertly so you're firmly requested to be discreet and avoid interaction with neighbors.
- Reviews are overwhelmingly positive
The dominance of 5-star ratings is not a bad thing - maybe. It's important to note that Airbnb reviews are transactional, meaning it's in the best interest of a guest to write positively of a property so that the host will return with a similarly affirmative review of the guest. Consequently, the consensus then is that reviews tend to be inflated. It's best to view all reviews with a healthy dose of skepticism.
- Residences can be difficult to find or may be far from places of convenience, such as train stations or the airport
Finding properties in suburban areas can be a challenge because Japanese street addresses do not follow any discernible order or pattern. Even with online apps, finding a property after a long day of travel and while hauling luggage can be a frustrating (if not aggravating) experience.
- Inconsistency among hosts and properties
Depending on the years of experience or level of interest, Airbnb hosts tend to exhibit a broad range of professionalism and service. Similarly, the properties listed are of varying quality and value. You may have a great experience one day, and the total opposite the next day. It can hard to determine exactly what you'll get with each listing and host.
Want us to give you the nitty gritty about Japan? Let us know what you're curious about at firstname.lastname@example.org.