Airbnb in Japan

For a one week trip around Japan, my mom and I decided to give Airbnb a try for most of our accommodations. She was hesitant, but went ahead and booked a couple places in Tokyo and Kyoto. I definitely should have taken the lead on this because I learned pretty quickly my mom did not know to read the reviews or directions on the apartment listings.

Overall, the apartments were fine. In Tokyo we stayed right in the heart of Shibuya, walking distance from everything we wanted to see or do. In Kyoto, our apartment was more out in the suburbs, nearby the famous Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Japanese apartments are very small but efficient, with small pods and nooks for the kitchens and bathrooms.

Typical bathroom pod in Japan-
Feels like space camp!

The Kyoto apartment had great wifi, the Tokyo apartment did not. The Tokyo apartment had beds, the Kyoto did not. Yes, you heard me right. NO BEDS! To our dismay, we arrived in Kyoto and the apartment had two mats on the floor. This wasn't wildly misleading; the photos on Airbnb clearly showed floor mats but my mom didn't notice that and also didn't notice the scores of Western reviewers complaining about the sleeping accommodations. 

Mom at our Kyoto apartment- oops!

After one night of 'indoor camping' and lots of tossing and turning on bamboo mats, my mom and I found a hotel near Sanjo Station which made the rest of our stay in Kyoto much more pleasant. What a frakkin' awesome city!!

There were too many issues with Airbnb in Japan to recommend it to anyone. Wifi and air conditioning were sparse, the beds and bathrooms were always wanting, and we never had a smooth check in. This is largely due to the fact that it is really complicated to get a tourist SIM card in Japan so we were unable to call or email our hosts upon arrival. My mom and I spent a lot of time in random stairwells or on street corners trying to figure out how to get into our apartments. I don't think this would be an issue in the US, and I will definitely give Airbnb another go in a different place, but next time I go to Japan, I will be staying in hostels. 


  1. Japanese private homes, in general, are very cold in the winter, far more cold than most visitors can imagine. The strategy is to heat a small area and use futon and bedding for sleep. You can go into any Japanese home during the winter and it is usually setup with cold and heated areas which are separated by walls and doors.


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