If you haven’t stayed in a hostel in Japan before, you should know something about them: they’re pretty great. On average, Japanese hostel quality is at a much higher standard than the hostels you typically find when backpacking in Europe. On top of this, they’re often found at a price equal to or lower than European hostel prices…And they’re way cheaper than even mid-range hotels. This is fuelled by the spirit of omotenashi, or Japanese hospitality. Hard to believe, right?
Although the Japanese hostel standards are already way up there, you should still try to find a hostel that’s even higher than the standard. Not easy to do, especially when you aren’t in the country to see them for yourself. So we visited and reached out to hostels in four major cities in Japan to find the best ones for you to create the perfect stay in Japan. Here’s our top 10 list of hostels that you should definitely book for your Japan vacation. Each hostel has its own quirks, unique offering or defined style of accommodation. See which ones are for you, and make that booking ASAP since they’re sure to be booked out fast!
In alphabetical order, here are some of the best hostels to stay in Japan!
The Best Hostels in Kanazawa
Style: All-Star Hostel
K’s House is one of the top three most well-known hostel brands in Japan, with branches dotted across Japan from north to south. K’s House Kanazawa (KHK) is one of the more recent openings, and it’s primed to go above and beyond your expectations. It’s an incredibly spacious and well-lit hostel, and is perfect for you if you’re looking for relaxation, comfort, and a homely feel while you’re travelling.
The first thing you need to know about KHK is that it’s not right near the station. Unless you’re in Kanazawa for a very short amount of time (e.g. 1 night), this is actually a benefit and something that works in your favour. Compared to other cities, most of Kanazawa’s most famous and popular attractions aren’t found in the main station area. KHK is in the prime area of Kanazawa. It’s located at the foot of the Sai River, a natural park-like space that is lined with cherry blossoms in the spring. It’s directly across the bridge from the temple district if you’re looking for some cultural sites, and it’s got a view of the Japanese Alps towering in the distance. Walk along the river for 10 minutes, and you’ll find yourself in Katamachi – Kanazawa’s downtown district that immerses you in Japanese nightlife and authentic restaurants. At the foot of the hostel is a quaint shopping street that the locals visit daily for tailoring, grocery shopping and cafes. Hop onto the street in the morning to join the locals in their daily routines. Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s three great gardens, is a short 10 – 15 minute walk away.
Beyond the location, the hostel itself is, of course, the key draw here. If you’re travelling as a couple, KHK provides double-bed dormitories. Yep, you can still share a bed with your partner at the low cost of a hostel dormitory – private room not necessary. The dormitory rooms are comfortable and aesthetic, a theme which permeates throughout the hostel from the lounge to the rooftop. It’s simple and clean, paired with well-placed Japanese decorations and natural lighting.
The rooftop is a very popular area for the guests since it provides a high view of all the sights previously mentioned, and you look down on all the traditional Japanese houses surrounding you. The rooftop is also a prime viewing spot for the fireworks that shoot off during festivals on summer nights – something you should definitely aim to be here for on July 27th. If you’re planning to stay in Kanazawa for a longer period of time and would like to cook your own food, you’ll be happy to know that KHK provides a fully equipped kitchen with multiple stovetops. To top it all off, the staff is kind and friendly and the building is kept immaculately clean. What more could you ask for?
Neighbors Inn is a cozy hostel on the west side of Kanazawa station, which is perfect for an easy check-in especially if you are arriving in the evening. They take a unique approach to their hospitality, focusing on community integration and “connecting travelers to the spirit of Japan”. One of the ways that Neighbors Inn welcomes you as family is through their ‘honor system’. If you’d like to purchase any food or drinks that are available at the hostel, just grab what you want and drop the owed amount into the coin box. No one is checking up on you or making a sale – you’re just trusted as a member of the community!
If meeting and chatting to the locals is of interest to you, they host an English Café every Saturday morning where locals and expats come to practice English. Travelers can meet with people in the community to get local tips about Kanazawa and to get to know the people of the city they’re visiting. Since Doot Experiences aren’t available in Kanazawa just yet, this is an awesome option to get talking and get to know the people of your travel destination.
Rather than being run like a full-service accommodation, you’re made to feel at home – truly coming as a stranger and leaving as a friend. And who doesn’t want that?
The Best Hostels in Kyoto
Style: All-Star Hostel
If you’ve ever wanted to experience the atmosphere of a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in Japan but couldn’t afford it, this is your chance. Widely praised for being exquisitely clean, Ryokan Hostel Gion (RHG) is not only in a prime location in Kyoto, but it also brings the full sense of Japanese wa (harmony) to your hostel experience. This hostel brings that spirit and style right into your living space, making the internal reflect the external.
Despite being a hostel, your bunk bed in the dormitory is a tatami mat, just like a traditional Japanese accommodation space. Wide, spacious and unique, you’re guaranteed to have a comfortable and memorable experience. Since RHG is located in Gion, you’ll be in the heart of the traditional and cultural hub of Japan and are just a stone’s throw away from a number of Japan’s most important cultural locations. As a result, RHG is one of the best bases for sightseeing in Kyoto. This is exceptionally beneficial, since sightseeing in Kyoto typically requires extensive and coordinated planning to do it efficiently. Staying at RHG saves you time and effort so you can spend more seeing than commuting.
Style: Unique Designs and Social Atmosphere
Fairfield Room is based in the Kawaramachi area of Kyoto, which is full of side streets chockfull of trendy bars, restaurants, and a buzzing vibe from people on the streets. It’s also a central place for all the public transport – buses and trains are super convenient to catch in this area, so you can radiate out to all of the major sites when you’re based in this area. Fairfield is also less than a five-minute walk from Nishiki Market – one of the most famous fresh food markets in all of Japan and is certainly a site you should go strolling through to spoil your senses for an hour or two.
A key draw for Fairfield is their massive lounge area, which is fantastic for meeting other travelers to explore Kyoto or enjoy a beer with. The spacious lounge is dotted with tables and benches to chat and chill, and it also features a pool table front and center so you can enjoy a variety of bar-style games when you’re not out exploring. The mixed sex hostel dormitories are priced at just 1490 yen when booking online directly through their website. For all that this hostel offers, that’s a super competitive price, especially for such a well-visited tourist destination like Kyoto. If you’re on a budget but are looking for a comfortable experience, you’re going to want to book yourself in here ASAP.
On top of all that, the hostel is consistently praised for its clean room spaces and their friendly staff. Speaking of their rooms, you should definitely check those out – the interior design is super cool, with a unique concrete-slab and tent-style materials flitting throughout. Pretty unique, don’t you think?
Style: Special Offerings (Game Changer)
The manager of WeBase has travelled to 150 countries, so has almost certainly visited your home country, and has a plethora of stories and anecdotes to share with you from around the world. If English isn’t your first language and you’re more comfortable speaking your first language, or you simply want to practice a language that you’re learning, WeBase would be a pretty cool place to stay. The staffs are multi-lingual, and all together speaks 11 languages such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean, English and more.
The interior of WeBase Kyoto is something worth talking about. It has a large beautiful lounge that is often busy with other guests planning the next day’s activities, consulting guidebooks from the fully stocked bookshelf. If you’re a lady looking to feel pampered and clean on your backpacking travels, there is a beautiful powder room on the ladies floor, fully equipped with Dyson hairdryers, hair curlers, facial steamers, and other products such as high-quality lotions. How good does that sound? One more thing – the shower head is equipped with a special select mist shower function. Ooooh. You’re guaranteed to come out feeling like you’ve just come back from holiday…While you’re on holiday.
It. Gets. Better. In all of their plans, breakfast is included. Although simple, all of their bread is sourced from Boulangerie Liberte – a famous bakery in Kyoto (Google it), enjoyed from the comfort of your hostel. What else can you enjoy without leaving WeBase? They host and offer calligraphy experiences, takoyaki and soba parties, matcha-making experiences, Japanese cooking lessons, belly dance parties, and different varieties of concerts – ranging from violins, to traditional Japanese instruments and more. WeBase Kyoto is sure to change your image of a hostel, and make you determined to start staying at hostels that match WeBase’s level of service and quality.
The Best Hostels In Osaka
Style: Party and Community
Backstage Osaka Hostel has one of the strongest communities you’ll ever come across in a hostel, both within and outside of Japan. The first floor of the hostel is space exclusively for the bar and socializing with locals and travelers alike, complemented perfectly with a consistent stream of music and a flat-screen TV that plays entertaining videos, sports games, and occasionally a video game. If you ever want to add songs to the music playlist, you’re welcome to add your song to the queue and bring part of your personality to the playlist. On top of that, the bar is stocked with various craft beers from across the world, including a healthy selection of Japanese craft beers and various other liquors, such as Yamazaki whiskey. It’s a truly international vibe, which represents the mix of local and international visitors perfectly. From the second you walk in the door for check-in, you’re welcomed into the family and given the option to join in on the fun.
If you’re more interested in going your own way and not joining in, fear not – there is a side passageway that you can use so you don’t need to move through the social space. The side passageway is painted with beautiful custom mural art of various scenes of Osaka and Japan and represents the vibrant spirit of Osaka.
Up in the dormitory area, you’ll be rewarded for a long day of sightseeing with the super comfy memory foam mattresses – a rarity in hostels – and a purposefully implemented strong water pressure in the showers for your comfort. No more weak showers that need constant splashing to wash the shampoo out of your hair and the soap off your body.
All these quirks and thoughtful benefits are thanks to Michaël, the French-born owner of Backstage who is on a mission to develop the most communal, fun, exciting, and comfortable hostel you can find. A man of many talents and a friend of all who stays at the hostel, he is also a trained barista and makes one of the best cappuccino that you can find in Japan. If you’re a coffee lover, like me, Mike’s coffee is an oasis in a country that tends to have a fairly uninspiring coffee culture in general. Does Backstage Osaka come highly recommended? Absolutely. In fact, I found it through a recommendation from another traveler while I was in Kyoto. It’s right up there, and it’s worth visiting even if you don’t stay here. I’m a huge, huge fan, and I’m confident you will be too.
Style: Activities and Convenience
If you walk on the streets of Osaka, you’re likely to notice bicycles rushing past you at all hours of the day and night. It’s an incredibly popular choice of transport in Osaka, more noticeably than in Tokyo or Kyoto. Whether it’s because Osakans tend to use the sidewalk to ride their bicycles instead of the road like in the other cities, or because more people own and ride bicycles is unsure. One thing that is for sure, is that you should definitely join in on the fun and use a bicycle to get around Osaka and see all that the Nation’s Kitchen has to offer.
What better place to stay then, than at CharinCo Hostel Osaka? Charinco is Osakan dialect for bicycle, which is totally fitting because CharinCo provides guests with a free bicycle for the day. Located near Osaka Castle, the Osaka Castle Park should be the first sight you cycle around. It’s a pretty large park, so you’ll soon see the benefits and experience the joy of sightseeing on a bicycle. After you’ve seen the park, you can cover almost any part of the city by bicycle for sightseeing and shopping. As someone that’s been to Osaka more times than I can count, I can’t recommend this method of sightseeing enough. Although not the size of Tokyo, Osaka is a big city and it can get tiring walking everywhere, and even frequently taking the metro can sap your energy. A bicycle, on the other hand, is surprisingly invigorating.
With all that said, you don’t need to wander aimlessly. The CharinCo staff are knowledgeable about getting around Osaka and can help you out with routes and directions – in English, Spanish, Russian or Arabic! They’ll ensure your route is efficient and you see the best things that Osaka has to offer. Lastly, if you’re more interested in tours rather than going solo, you’re in luck. CharinCo offers a free bicycle tour weekly, so you can join a group of other travelers and see the city in style. Super fun and a great value offering for travelers!
The Best Hostels in Tokyo
The first thing that stands out about Imano Ginza (IG), with a set of stairs rising to the café/restaurant on the left, is initially how similar the vibe can feel to a hotel. That’s because IG focuses on creating a full-service experience for guests, while still being aimed at (and affordable for) hostel travelers. To keep true to the full-service experience, they even have a full floor dedicated to rooms for families – so if you’re traveling with kids, IG is a great option for you. If you’re a female traveler and are looking to stay in a female-only room, there’s a full floor dedicated to rooms for women only. How convenient is that?
If you’re still looking for a hostel vibe, don’t panic – IG still caters and provides for that too. They have a movie night every Sunday, using a projector in the movie room. Practically every Monday night there’s a food party to cook foods like takoyaki, and Happy Hour is every Friday and Saturday night. You can still pack in a bunch of socializing, fun activities and meet new people, so don’t let the idea of full-service ‘like a hotel’ worry you. Oh, and I forgot to mention – you can still expect regular hostel prices. You even have the option to tack on breakfast to your accommodation, which will snag you a panini and some potato wedges in the morning, along with a drinks bar. This is getting better and better, isn’t it?
But wait, there’s more! If you stay at IG, you’ll also be in the trendy and upmarket area of Tokyo called Ginza. IG is right near Tsukiji Fish Market, and although the tuna fish auction has now moved to Toyosu Fish Market, you can still enjoy the great (and famous!) sushi restaurants in the district. A second great benefit is the proximity of IG to Monjadori – a street full of monjayaki restaurants, a regional food enjoyed by Tokyoites, which you absolutely have to check out while you’re in Tokyo. If you’re a foodie, this is sounding pretty good, right?
Style: Exclusivity and Comfort
A little bit of subjectivity here – Nakameguro is one of my absolute favorite areas of Tokyo. In fact, in Japan. It’s the most beautiful, quaint, picturesque, and especially local neighborhoods of Tokyo. If you’re ever getting tired of the rush and the crowds of tourists in areas in Shibuya and Shinjuku, then you’re in need of a good dose of Nakameguro. The neighborhood is full of locals cafes and designer shops, as well as drinking bars buzzing with regular locals. You absolutely have to visit this neighborhood while you’re in Tokyo. Unfortunately, there aren’t an awful lot of accommodation options, and finding budget accommodation in this area is especially hard.
And that’s what makes Waves Nakameguro so fantastic. It’s one of your only, if not the only, option for you as a budget traveler looking for a hostel to stay in Nakameguro. Since that’s the case, if you have your heart set on Nakameguro (like I do), then you absolutely need to make your booking right now before they become fully booked. Seriously – do not limit yourself to the pricey hotels in the area, or being forced into staying in one of the nearby tourist districts.
Waves Nakameguro is just a 2-minute walk from the local train station, meaning it’s easily accessible, easy to find, and perfect for those that are tired of hauling their heavy luggage around Tokyo. The station is also on the Tokyo Metro line, meaning you can shoot off to major locations like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Roppongi, Akihabara, Ueno, Ginza, or Daikanyama without any thought or effort. Easy access to major locations and sights while staying in a chilled, classy and refined local area? Yes, please. That’s a traveler’s dream.
If that’s not enough, the cozy interior of Waves Nakameguro’s rooms and lounge area reflects a modern Japanese vibe that gives you a sense of pride of where you’re staying – you’re definitely going to want to send a few photos to your family and friends back home. If you can’t tell that we’re obsessed with this place yet, then we’ll make it clearer – we’re obsessed.
What do you think? Have you stayed at any of these hostels before? Tell us which hostels you think deserve to be on this list, and we’ll make sure to stay there and update our best-of list. If you’re yet to travel to Japan, definitely make sure to slot some of these hostels in your itinerary somewhere – they’re well worth it.