For most tourists, Japan is one of the most unique travel experiences on offer, mostly because it is unlike any other country in the world. While this is true of all countries to a certain extent, most countries resemble their neighbours in some way, such as dress, language, food etc. Japan is one country which defies the general rule: despite its proximity to Korea and China, it has a completely different culture. Japan doesn’t bill itself as a tourist destination, but is increasingly popular with travellers, so here is a quick rundown of the accommodation options available to the tourist in Japan.

The Tourist Hotel

The most obvious choice, tourist hotels and guest houses are available throughout the four islands that make up Japan. While Western- style luxury hotels are common in the bigger cities, the more outlying regions will usually have old- fashioned inns and guest houses that hearken back to the days before conglomeration arrived. These will be run by a family or small company and have modest, but clean, rooms with traditional Japanese meals like misoshiro (miso soup) and tofu with salmon for lunch.

The Traditional Japanese House

There are many traditional Japanese houses around cities which offer home stay programmes to allow foreigners to experience true, pre- WWII era Japanese- style living. Traditional Japanese houses stand on elevated wooden platforms, with reed roofs supported by a sturdy bamboo framework. The walls are wooden frames covered with stiff paper, which are opened during the day. Reed mats known as tatami cover the floors. Most traditional houses nowadays have solar or electric hydronic floor heating to ensure comfort during winter, which is harsh in Japan.

In the olden days, the good hydronic heating would be powered by a wood- fuelled boiler located in an outhouse.

B&BS or Business Hotels

Japan is famous for being a nation of hard- workers. This is reflected in the large number of business hotels in Japanese cities and towns. If you are travelling on a budget and can’t afford a tourist hotel, check into a business hotel. Business hotels are cheaper as they only offer a bed and breakfast – some don’t provide breakfast either. However, this is easily remedied as food in Japan costs next to nothing, whether you eat from a restaurant, fast food joint or buy re- heatable meals in a grocery. An added advantage of business hotels is that, as they cater to the busy worker, they will located near major transport networks such as a railway or bus station.