One of the most convenient and affordable ways of finding short-term and long-term accommodation in Japan is guest houses, also often referred to as "gaijin houses". Gaijin (外人, a controversial term translated as "outsider" or foreigner) is misleading, as quite a lot of residents in guest houses are Japanese: students, "salarymen", day labourers, and others keen to avoid the host of fees involved when renting an apartment in Japan. Guesthouses offer you all the conveniences needed for your daily survival and will, in most cases, only charge you low deposit fees, which are usually refunded to you in full.

Guesthouse essentials

  • Simple check-in process: after checking the availability by phone or mail, you will have to produce a passport or your Alien Registration Card, which is usually copied, and sometimes sign a contract and their rules of compliance.
  • Most guest houses do not require a deposit (敷金 shikikin). Those who do usually ask between 10,000 to 30,000 JPY, which will be returned upon moving out. Also, you will have to pay upfront for the first month of your stay. You will not have to pay "key money" (礼金), a mandatory non-refundable gift for rented apartments, usually equivalent to two months' rent, or provide a "guarantor". Some guest houses offer cleaning services. In such a case, a maintenance fee will be added to your monthly rent.
  • Most rooms or small apartments are furnished with a bed or futon, a table and a cabinet or a dresser, and equipped with a refrigerator, air-conditioning, and a TV set. To make sure, you should check your accommodation before moving in. Don't be too surprised: most rooms are quite small, especially after you have moved in and unpacked your belongings.
  • While the internet or WiFi is becoming more common, not all guest houses do offer such services. If you need them, make sure to check whether they are available or not.
  • Utilities are usually included in your rent. Most guest houses offer coin-operated laundry facilities (100-300 JPY, laundry dryers generally at 100 JPY), which you will have to pay extra. The same applies to coin-operated showers and air conditioning.
  • In share houses, you will have to share kitchen and bathroom facilities with other guests. Most gaijin houses offer private bathrooms and small kitchens that come with essential utensils.
  • Many guesthouses have community rooms with TV, computers, games, and books.
Generally, guest houses are very useful for newcomers to familiarise themselves with life in Japan. If you plan to stay for more than a year, renting an apartment might prove to be cheaper, depending on where you live.

Find a selection of Japanese guest houses listed below.

Links to Guest Houses:

Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama
  • Arai Housing: affordable and furnished apartments in Ichikawa, Chiba
  • Azure International Guest House: guest house located in Narita, Chiba
  • Bamboo Guest House: fully-furnished apartments and guest house rooms in Tokyo and Chiba
  • Borderless Tokyo: guest houses in Higashisuna, Tawaramachi, Shinnakano, Inaridai, Musashiseki, Itabashi, Yamatocho, Oyama, Jujyo, Akabane, Ikebukuro, and Otsuka
  • Cheap Guest Housing: guest houses in Roppongi, Komazawa, and Shinjuku, as well as affordable apartments
  • Fontana, Co. Ltd.: apartments, share houses, and guesthouses all over Tokyo
  • Hanata Guest House: affordable, long and short-term accommodations designed to meet the needs of both foreign visitors and residents of Japan
  • House Ikebukuro: guest house located close to JR Ikebukuro Station
  • International House Ojima (I.H.O.): guest house located in 2-38-15 Koto-ku, Tokyo, phone: 03-36362277, fax: 03-36374480
  • J&F Plaza: guest houses in Tokyo (Shinjuku, Nishi-Kawaguchi, Minami-Gyotoku, Urawa, Warabi, Kugahara) and Osaka
  • Kimi Information Center: share houses for foreigners all over Tokyo
  • Koyomiya Guesthouse: guest house for foreigners near Meidaimae (Keio line) or Higashi-Matsubara (Inogashira line) stations
  • New Koyo: backpackers' hotel in Minami-senju
  • Nichio Apartment: apartments and guest houses in Ishikawadai, Ueno, and Nishi-Shinjuku
  • Oak House: guesthouses and furnished apartments in 40 locations across Tokyo
  • Sakura House: monthly furnished apartment agency providing more than 700 rooms, share houses and dormitories in Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Itabashi, Shinagawa/Gotanda, Tokyo/Ginza, Asakusa/Akihabara, Yokohama/Kawasaki, Roppongi/Hiroo, Saitama, and Shibuya/Harajuku
  • Shibata Mansion: located in Tama-ku, Kawasaki, offers over 100 apartments for students
  • TenTen Guesthouse: guest houses located in Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku, Tokyo
  • Tohto Guest House: guest houses in Kasai, Kugayama, Eifukucho, Kami-itabashi, Minami-gyotoku, and Shukugawara
  • U&I House: a guest house for foreigners in Minami Tanaka, Nerima-ku, Tokyo
  • World Student Village: daily, weekly, and monthly guest houses in Kami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
  • Yadoya Guesthouse: guest houses in the vicinity of near Higashi-Nakano station
  • Yokohama Hostel Village: hostels located in Naka-ku, Yokohama, four minutes walk from JR Ishikawacho Station
  • Guest House Osaka: guest house is located in Sakai, close to both the city centre and Kansai airport
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