Once you’ve got to Japan – or perhaps before you even fly – you’ll want to think about where to stay. As you’d expect, hotels range from the ultra-cheap to extremely expensive, with prices skewed in the bigger cities and Tokyo in particular. If you’re looking to travel around at a relatively low cost, though, there are three good options: business hotels, cheap ryokan (minshuku) and youth hostels.

Business Hotels

In every Japanese city you’ll find at least one – and usually far more – of these inexpensive hotels, usually clustered around the JR train station. They’re cheap, mostly surprisingly comfortable, and easy to reserve – not that you’ll always need to. I’ve stayed in as many different chains as possible, as well as some independents, in order to rate them. Click here for details.

Cheap Ryokan

A ryokan is a Japanese inn – think tatami mats and futon on the floor rather than the western style accommodation of most business hotels. Many ryokan are quite formal, luxurious and expensive – especially in onsen towns – but cheaper ones also exist, and it’s worth staying in a 和室 (washitsu – Japanese style room) at least once or twice. Click here for details.

Youth Hostels

I’m not particularly youthful anymore, and I guess I’m getting too old and grumpy for long periods of staying in noisy dormitories. But in Japan – and in the countryside in particular – I’ve found a few brilliant, quiet hostels that were a pleasure to stay in – that’s one in the photo above. Click here for details.