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Accommodation (Japan)

Group tour hotels are generally of a 3 to 4-star international standard. Hotels in Japan offer similar facilities and standards as you would expect in the West, although are known for being quite small. Rooms feature heating/air-conditioning, television and an ensuite bathroom. Bathrooms in all but the very top end hotels tend to be quite small, with a half size bath with a shower over it. There is often a step up to the bathroom, so please be observant of this. In-room safes, fridges and tea/coffee making facilities are reasonably common but you may not find them in all hotels. City hotels often have a bar, gym and swimming pool but please bear in mind that hotels in rural areas may be more basic. Double beds are not common; please note that we cannot guarantee their availability. Please note that space is at a premium in Japan’s cities, so all hotel rooms tend to be on the small side – this is especially true of single rooms. While we usually use Western style rooms, on occasion you may stay in a Japanese style room. Japanese rooms feature a futon bed with a mattress lying directly on the floor.

Domestic tourism in Japan contributes to a large portion of the country’s tourism, so hotels can be quite full, especially during cherry blossom season.

Hotels throughout Japan will collect your passport at check-in and make a copy of it, as required by law. In Japan, check-in time is usually 2pm and check-out time is 11am. Remember that on the days when you are travelling between cities it may result in a delay of access to your room. Hotels cannot guarantee late check-out. At many hotels, the reception staff speak little English. If you require help, please contact your tour guide.

Double beds are subject to hotel inventory and cannot be guaranteed.

Hotel List - You will receive your hotel list with final documents sent to you 2-3 weeks prior to travel. A sample list of hotels can be found on each tour's website. 

Ryokan and Ryokan Etiquette

Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns, and offer the perfect opportunity to experience traditional Japanese culture. The rooms at a traditional ryokan are basic, with tatami-matted rooms, paper sliding doors, futon bedding and shared bathrooms. There is usually no central heating. There are also more westernised versions of ryokans which include a tatami-matted area but have proper beds and a private toilet and bath/shower. The usual loungewear at a Ryokan is a ‘yukata’ (Japanese robe), which is often provided. In keeping with the traditions of a Ryokan, guests must remove their shoes before entering the inn and must wear slippers around the hallways. Only bare or stockinged feet are permitted to tread on the tatami straw mats, so all footwear must be removed entirely prior to entering the guestrooms. Dinner and breakfast are included in the price of the room and usually consist of a ‘kaiseki’ meal, featuring numerous small and varied dishes. Please be punctual for your meal. Most ryokans have bathing areas making use of any local hot springs – ‘onsens’.

‘Shukubo’ – Temple Lodging

If your tour includes lodging at a temple, this offers an excellent chance to get a taste of the simple, traditional lifestyle of Buddhist monks. Accommodation here is traditional and basic, offering Japanese rooms with tatami floors, sliding doors (fusuma) made of rice paper, and shared bathrooms. The bedding consists of single futons that are laid out on the tatami floor. The evening meal is a Buddhist vegetarian dinner, known as Shojin Ryori, usually served at 6pm. The temple is staffed by monks who generally do not speak English. There are no TVs on the premises.

Hotel Ratings

Whilst the use of the star rating system to indicate the standard of a hotel is international, the actual classification of hotels is not. Countries throughout the world adopt various classification systems for hotels in accordance to their chain name and the type of hotel. Differences do exist in the quality of the accommodation but a locally-rated 3-star hotel in Japan can be favourably compared to an Australian/New Zealand-rated 3-star hotel. Please be safe in the knowledge that all hotels used by Wendy Wu Tours are regularly inspected by our staff and our operators so that high standards of quality and safety are maintained.


The ritual of bathing in onsens has been enjoyed by the Japanese for centuries – they are revered for their healing properties and ability to break down social barriers. Using an onsen bath is governed by etiquette but this is nothing to worry about – you will see information in your room about how and when to use the onsen in your hotel/ryokan. Onsen baths are segregated – there will either be one for men and one for women or there will be different timings for men and women. The majority of onsen baths do not allow bathing suits – you leave your yukata and towel in a basket or locker in the changing room. You may be provided with a small towel that you can take with you into the bathing area, but it must not go into the water – you will see many people placing it on their head while they soak. You must use the facilities to wash yourself off before entering the hot baths. The waters can be very hot, usually around 40 degrees. Onsens are not for swimming, but soaking and quiet contemplation. Many high-end ryokans offer private onsen baths for a fee. Please note: people with tattoo sleeves or large, very visible tattoos could be asked to not use the public onsen. 


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