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There are many classes of accommodations in Japan, from the ultimate in luxury to novelty sleepover facilities. With more than the usual number of options, Japan provides all sorts of mix-and-match options for even the tightest budgets. Here are the basics, starting with the cheapest:
- Gay saunas function as business hotels and even offer private rooms at a surcharge for those who want to be undisturbed during the night. With lockers, robes, bathing and snack areas, saunas are a real money-saving option.
- Capsule hotels, sometimes more appropriately called "coffin hotels," are surely a novelty but function for those who have missed the last train home and want the cheapest accommodation available. For an extra surcharge you can use the sauna and bathing facilities which sometimes sees action between tipsy businessmen before they climb into their hive pod. Don't expect to be able to sit up or stretch your legs, but, surprisingly, you can easily read or watch TV.
- Business hotels are no frills and tiny, but resemble normal hotels with scaled-down amenities.
- Love Motels rent for short time as well as overnight after a certain time of evening (usually 11pm). You should really consider them for their cheap price, unusually large rooms, novelty decor (Christmas on Mars, anyone?), and amenities like karaoke, widescreen TV and giant tubs. Usually you choose from a grid of backlit pictures in the lobby since each room may be differently themed. Not all love motels allow same-sex couples, but there are always others nearby that will.
- Ryokan are Japanese versions of bed and breakfasts and sometimes come with elaborate seasonal dinners and communal, Japanese-style bathing facilties. Here you may experience traditional rooms with sweet-smelling tatami matts, sliding paper screens, and futon that are laid out before bedtime. Great for tourists who want traditional charm, but not interesting for modern Japanese and so the price is usually reasonable.
- Budget hotels, usually found around train stations, are less expensive than brand name chains and offer plenty of amenities like Net access, safes, and fridges.
- Onsen (hot spring) resorts range from the mid-to-interstellar price-wise, but their seductive combination of traditional bathing facilities, usually outdoors or with a view of nature, and an incredible dinner of kaiseki-style edible art made from seasonal local ingredients served in your tatami matt room is something every Japan-bound tourist should experience at least once!
HIROSHIMA -- area code (81-82)
- Hotel Flex
7-1 Kaminobori-cyo, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, 223-1000, FAX 223-5678. Inexpensive and beautifully modern hotel perched on one of downtown Hiroshima's scenic rivers. The design and decor are clean and stylish. The rooms, like most in Japan, are on the small side, but cozy.
- Condo By The Sea
Rokko Grand Heights 704, 2-6-6 Minooka Dori, Nada-Ku, +81-090-2012-4408, email. Gay-managed rental room in a condominium with fabulous view of Osaka Bay and a short train ride to the gay area in Osaka. Utopia Member Discount
KYOTO -- area code (81-75)
- Hatoya Zuihoukaku
802 Minami Fudo-cho, Seidouin Shiokojikudaru, Shimogyo-ku, 361-1231. A traditional Japanese inn just a minutes' walk from the Kyoto Station. Exit north at the station and turn left and walk one block, it's on the opposite corner, a reddish brick building four stories high. Tatami matt rooms (your futon will be put out at night) with bathroom (there's also small communal baths for men or women on the top floor). No problem with same sex couples in a room. Very reasonably priced.
NAGOYA (Aichi Prefecture) -- area code (81-52)
- Dai-Ichi Fuji Hotel
Not to be confused with their Nishiki branch. This one is just a block away from the Nagoya Train Station. Although not as new as its Tokyo cousins, it has free Internet and hotel amenities. Reasonably priced.
NARITA (Chiba Prefecture) -- area code (81-476)
- Narita Tokyu Excel Hotel
Reported very cruisy sauna, Japanese bath and lounge. Lots of hot airline crew and Asians.
OSAKA -- area code (81-6)
Hokuoukan UTOPIA VISITED APR 2012
See full listing under Saunas for directions and description. A cheap alternative to a hotel (if you don't mind being "bothered" throughout the night. Just leave your bags in a coin locker at the train station and take a small overnight bag. The overnight rate is inexpensive, from 6pm until noon the next day, and they also have more discount levels for those under 40 and those under 26. They also have private rooms if you want sleep mor soundly.
A good hotel at a reasonable price and really well located for the gay bars.
X Wave Umeda Hotel UTOPIA VISITED APR 2012
1-12 Kamiyama-cho, Kita-ku, 06-6312-3200, FAX 06-6312-3111. Bookable through Agoda. Nicely located a few blocks from the gay scene in Doyama-cho. Business inn with bright and clean modern rooms, free in-room LAN Net access and full hotel amenities. Take a double for a larger bed and if you plan to have a guest (ask your guest to register at the front desk).
TOKYO -- area code (81-3)
Dai-ichi Inn UTOPIA VISITED MAR 2012
Just north of the Ikebukuro Train Station, Utopia Map, 03-3986-1221. Reasonably priced, with free in-room LAN Net access and full amenities. It's only four train stops from Shinjuku Station on the Yamanote Line and the Narita Express now has trains going to/from Ikebukuro directly. Jinya gay sauna is just a short walk away and there are lots of cheap and good eateries in the neighborhood. You can book it on Expedia or they do have a website as well where you can book via email in Yen. Rooms are small, but not too cramped. Take a double room for a bigger bed and if you plan to have a guest (register them at the front desk). No smoking rooms available.
Jinya UTOPIA VISITED MAR 2012
See listing under Saunas. Inexpensive men's sauna and inn. Keep your luggage in a coin locker at the train station (the lockers inside the sauna are only wide enough for a backpack). Take a more expensive private room if you want some real rest, otherwise expect to have adventures all night long in the communal rooms.
SHINJUKU NI-CHOME, SAN-CHOME
The easiest way to get to the gay area is to take the underground walkway from Shinjuku Station's East Exit (down one floor after the train exit ticket machines) or the Shinjuku Sanchome Subway Station (Marunouichi Line) to Exit C5, C7, or C8 (see map):
24 Kaikan UTOPIA VISITED SEP 2012
See listing under Saunas. Inexpensive men's sauna and inn right in the heart of the gay scene. Keep your luggage in a coin locker at the subway or train station (the lockers inside the sauna are only wide enough for a backpack). Take a more expensive private room if you want some real rest, otherwise expect to have adventures all night long in the communal rooms.
Hotel Rocks UTOPIA VISITED SEP 2012
Utopia Map, 03-5367-6969. Love motel with short term rates and inexpensive all-night rates (about US$50 for a single) after 8pm. Rooms are small and clean, but have lingering cigarette smell.
Hotel S UTOPIA VISITED SEP 2012
Utopia Map. Love motel conveniently located in the heart of the gay scene, just next door to GB bar.
Lone Star UTOPIA VISITED SEP 2012
Utopia Map. Located in the heart of Ni-Chome's nightlife. Free additional amenities at the lobby and free hot coffee/Japanese tea from dispenser at 4th floor. They can store your luggage before/after check out.
Shinjuku Hotel Park Inn UTOPIA VISITED SEP 2012
1-36-5 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Utopia Map, 03-3354-9000, FAX 03-3225-4466. Great location a few block's north of the Shinjuku Gyoemmae Subway Station (Marunouichi Line) and a short walk to Ni-Chome's gay district. This clean, inexpensive (around US$100 for a double) and convenient business hotel has small bedrooms (no closets, just two coat hangers) and is OK if you don't have a lot of luggage. Book a double room for a bigger bed and register your guest at the front desk (no unregistered guests in the rooms). Free in-room LAN Net access. No smoking rooms available (book in advance as they sell out).
24 Kaikan (Ni-Yon Kaikan) UTOPIA VISITED MAR 2012
See listing under Saunas. Inexpensive men's sauna and inn. Keep your luggage in a coin locker at the subway or train station (the lockers inside the sauna are only wide enough for a backpack). Take a more expensive private room if you want some real rest, otherwise expect to have adventures all night long in the communal rooms.
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