On August 6, 2019, just a few days before writing this article, the US dollar slipped to a seven-month low of 105.78 yen.
Tokyo is ready to intervene if excessive yen gains threatened to hurt the export-reliant economy.
Bad news for those of us planning on visiting this country.
Not to mention the fact that Japan always makes it to the top of the list of the world’s most expensive countries!
Of course, if money is not an objection, this doesn’t really concern you.
In that case, you´d probably best browsing any of the many accommodation booking sites you´ll find on the net.
But if you are a budget-conscious traveller over 50 who desperately want to adore this incredible country, the following suggestions might help you make that dream a reality, even if it isn´t the most comfortable reality 🙂
Manga kissa (まんが喫茶, manga kissa, short for manga kissaten)
This is probably more of a curiosity than an actual option for you.
But hey! Why not!
If you are like me and are capable of sleeping just about anywhere, this could work!
Certainly not the place where you want to spend more than one or two nights, but an option that can help you save some cash.
The “manga kissa” or “manga kissaten” are popular versions of the classic internet cafe with long-stay options.
Many of them are open 24 hours and will cost you as little as 1500 yen (USD 15) per night. Some manga kissa offer women-only sections.
This price will give you unlimited access to comic books, a shower, and all the soda you can drink.
The average place has about 20-30 booths, but there are also huge ones which span multiple floors and have over 100 individual booths.
24 Hour Baths
In addition to offering gender-segregated baths, some of these centres provide lounging areas, large comfortable chairs, or private rooms where visitors can rest for the night.
For around 3000 Yen (US$30), places like Heijwajima Onsen will get you a decent sleep area with personal tv, blankets and pillows.
One word of caution when it comes to public baths in Japan.
Although different genders bathe in different areas, if you are not fond of parading naked in public, this type of baths might not be your best choice.
You will also be required to ¨shower¨ yourself before you enter the actual bath in a somewhat peculiar position (generally sitting down on cute little wooden stools) and it may feel like a very awkward way to present your nude self.
Just keep it in mind 🙂
Sure, you might feel slightly trapped in a stacked-up sarcophagus but it will only cost you about 3500 yen (US$33 up to US$50)!
And you’ll be able to play with a few little gadgets like TV, radio, alarm clock and reading light!
I don´t have to tell you there are a number of downsides to sleeping in these little pods – patrons could very well be quite rowdy as most often capsule hotels are found clustered around stations ready for drunk businessmen who have lost their trains to crush on.
Also, because of safety and privacy and safety issues, women typically aren’t allowed at these hotels, so it is a good idea to check, as there are a few exceptions.
Here are some of the capsule hotels in Tokyo worth trying just for the sake of it!
Low budget (standard) Ryokan and Minshuku
A Ryokan is the traditional Japanese inn that originated in the old Edo days (seventeenth century).
They generally feature tatami-matted rooms and communal baths.
You can totally go upmarket and pay 40,000 yen for a room in these traditional lodges or find a no-frills option for as little as 4,000 yen per person.
Ryokan and Minshuku are similarly styled although the latter aims to project a more personalised and homey atmosphere where guests are treated to home-style Japanese cooking.
Both of these options will generally not provide a private bathroom and you´ll have to share the communal area with other guests (and sometimes the general public).
The following are some affordable Ryokan and Minshuku options in the Tokyo region:
Location: Near Tokyo University and Tokyo Dome
Cost: between 8,000 to 10,600 yen per person.
Location: Asakusa district of Tokyo, 200 meters away from the Sensoji temple.
Cost: between 10,000 to 15.000 yen per person.
Location: Near Tokyo Station,
There is a large shared bath for the guests (same gender only).
Cost: between 10,000 to 20,000 yen per person
Don’t worry about being surrounded by millennials travelling around the world!
Enjoy the vibes!
As you will see, youth hostels in Japan are not especially cheap.
You can easily get a list of the best backpackers in town from any of the accommodation platforms, Trip Advisor o pretty much anywhere on the net, but you may want to start with these two popular spots:
Not ideal for couples as they don´t have any doubles, the communal space in this centrally located hotel features free Wi-Fi and a large TV with cable that encourages a community spirit among guests.
Twin rooms start at US$60 and dormitory cabin beds from US$32, but you get free tea and coffee and Internet access.
You will find the rooms here rather small, but most of them feature an en suite bathroom and wireless internet. Doubles start at US$150.
Buddhist monasteries (Shukubo)
Buddhist temples and monasteries are ideal accommodation options to retreat to a world of zen calm after a busy day in the megacity.
Most of them are quite a distance away from the tourist areas so you have to factor the transport when making your decision.
Expect very minimalist (almost spartan) but clean rooms, vegetarian meals and the option to be part of the Buddhist rituals.
You will be expected to lay out your own futon mattress and quilt at night and fold them up again the next morning.
The toilets will be Japanese style, and the bath – should it exist J – will be communal, perhaps even shared with the priest’s family!
Don’t expect TV, locks on your door or a safe to deposit your valuables!
As I explained in 7 Mystical places to bask in peace and silence when travelling at 50 the platform Terahaku has now become the Airbnb of Japanese temples.
So your best bet is to head straight there!
However, let me recommend a very special place where to find some of the most beautiful and meditative experiences outside the big city. :
Worshipped as a sacred mountain for a very long time in the Kanto region, many shukubo lodges have spread around the Musashi Mitake shrine.
Most of offer the option to perform Takigyo or meditative practice under a local waterfall.
The trip from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station to Mitake Station on the Ōme Line takes about 95 minutes.
A shuttle bus, located 50 meters to the left of Mitake Station, travels to Takimoto village every half hour between 07:30 to 18:00.
From Takimoto village, the Mitake-Tozan Railway cable car operates every half hour between 07:30 to 18:30 and leads to Mitakesan village at its top.
Mitake summit and the Musashi-Mitake Shrine (武蔵御嶽神社 Musashi Mitake Jinja?) can then be reached by trail—approximately 1000 meters.
This may sound like an option best suited for our younger ones, but that’s not necessarily the case. There are quite a number of websites that help you experience the real Japan and match people of any ages to households looking to host for up to 50,000 yen (US$550) per month.
If you are on your way from Tokyo elsewhere in Japan, highway buses in the country (kosoku for ‘highway’) will take you to any major city within six to nine hours, and even as far as the southern island of Kyushu in a 15-hour stretch.
While day time buses cost anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 yen (US$100-150) one way, you can get a discount for the night ride that’s usually around half the daytime price.
One thing to be careful thought is to double-check departure and arrival times and arrive at the check-in area early since sometimes it is difficult to find where the bus is parked.
For more information on overnight buses visit Japan-guide.com.
If you prefer to travel by train, there are also some night options available to you, you can check them out here.
And I hope this helps you get to Tokyo without having to dig too deep into your wallet!
Of course, there is always the option of doing like the locals do and falling asleep in the metro! (I myself have witnessed more than a few exhausted Japanese men stay behind after a train docked in its last stop :)).
When it´s time, it´s time!