Airbnb is one of those superstar startups that have disrupted the once-formidable global hotel industry. Its viability in Japan was once questioned, given country stereotypes about how Japanese people are extremely protective of their own home ground and would not easily admit strangers into their homes. But surprisingly, Airbnb has taken off in Japan, with hundreds of listings on the site in areas of heavy tourist interest, such as in Tokyo and in Osaka. So would Airbnb be a good option for you on your next travel to Japan? Here are some considerations that you should take before making your booking.
A quick surf around the site will reveal that the cost of booking a night in an Airbnb typically runs from at least 5000yen a night, and more if you are traveling alone or two. This cost is actually equivalent to a stay in a reputable business hotel anywhere, even in the big cities. Hence, in small groups, booking an Airbnb place may not make a lot of cost sense. But in bigger groups, when you are often allowed to all squeeze into one apartment, the cost per head would shrink, making Airbnb a more cost effective choice.
The cleanliness of the hotel and ryokan, painstakingly up kept by cleaning staff every day, is rarely replicated with Airbnb listings. They are often clean and cozy, but in the older apartments, you will see the occasional rust and tiny damages that come with ageing of the property. Also, the attention to detail may not be there since the owners who upkeep such properties are not professional cleaners (or frankly have the time to maintain these areas given their full-time jobs). If you are ok with some imperfection, then Airbnb apartments will tend to adequately meet your comfort needs.
Yet one thing you don’t often get with your hotels and ryokans are the unique experiences that you get from Airbnb. A quick surf around the site will bring you to housing choices such as temples, or abandoned warehouses or college dorms. Maybe these places don’t come with toothbrushes, but what could be better than getting the whole temple and its intricate garden to yourself? Airbnb is a great way to find such unique listings in Japan in a fast and efficient manner.
Depending on how adventurous you are, Airbnb can be a great experience that can be replicated through your typical hotel. But there are some hit and misses with some of these listings, and god forbid if you run into the very occasional psychos you sometimes hear of on these sites. Well, good luck!