Unforgettable stays: Top accommodation getaways in Japan

Japan offers travellers all kinds of accommodation options to suit every budget and taste, from boutique ryokans to themed hotels and luxury resorts. But overnight stays in Japan can also present a special opportunity to experience a slice of Japan’s unique culture and catch a rare glimpse of the past.

Here are a few places to stay in Japan where guests are invited to enjoy the spoils and surrounds of some of the country’s most charming historic buildings.


1. Auberge eaufeu 

Extraordinary dining experience and overnight stay in an old schoolhouse.

Breathing new life into the walls of the former Nishio Elementary School in Kanagaso, Ishikawa Prefecture, experience a night where innovation and tradition come together at Auberge eaufeu. Enjoy a rare culinary experience at this Japanese heritage site, courtesy of awarded chef, Itoi Shota, before retiring to one of the guest rooms set in a former classroom.


2. Wanoi Kakunodate 

Experience life in a historic storehouse.

Developed in the early 17th century as a city of samurai, Kakunodate is often referred to as ‘Little Kyoto’ and is one of Japan's most well-preserved historical pockets located in Akita Prefecture in the northern region of Tohoku. Kakunodate boasts authentic Edo-period architecture in two distinct areas: the samurai district and the merchant district. Wanoi Kakunodate is a hotel in one of the town’s renovated historical storehouses where you can experience life from the past.

Wanoi Kakunodate 1

Image by Wanoi Kakunodate.


3. Miyama Futon & Breakfast 

A Kyoto-style thatched cottage.

Miyama Futon & Breakfast is set in the mountain retreat of Miyama. Here, you’ll enjoy a sustainable stay in a traditional Kyoto-style thatched cottage. Experience what it’s like to be part of a traditional satoyama community that works alongside nature and lives from the land. As part of a stay at Miyama Futon & Breakfast, guests are invited to join in with a range of traditional activities including organic farming, roof thatching, and bamboo crafts.

Miyama Futon Breakfast 1

Image by Miyama Futon & Breakfast.


4. Hirado Castle Stay 

Feel like a lord for a night.

Built in 1559, Hirado Castle looks over the harbour and is surrounded by water on three sides – much like a moat. Hirado Castle Stay offers a variety of experience programs as part of a stay in the castle which includes tea ceremonies and special “warrior” tea ceremonies, wearing traditional dress, historic cultural performances and outdoor activities such as horseback riding.

Hirado Castle Final 1


5. Kurabito Stay 

Try your hand at sake brewing in a 300-year-old brewery.

The charming city of Saku in Nagano Prefecture is home to a sake brewery with over 300 years of history. At Kurabito Stay, you can brew sake for yourself in a one-of-a-kind experience where you’ll become a sake brewer (kurabito in Japanese) for the afternoon. The large chamber (hiroshiki) with its historic architecture (and where sake brewers traditionally slept) has been renovated to create comfortable and well-appointed living quarters for guests participating in the art of sake brewing.

Kurabito Stay 1

Image by Kurabito Stay.


6. Blue Train Taragi 

A night in a retired JR Sleeper Train.

Literally the train to nowhere, a once popular Japan Rail sleeper train has been converted into accommodation so guests can enjoy a rare experience from a bygone era. Near Taragi Station in Kumamoto Prefecture, three passenger cars from the Hayabusa Limited Express sleeper train have been repurposed into overnight lodgings which include traditional bunk options and private rooms.

Blue Train Taragi 1

Image by Blue Train Taragi.


7. Nipponia Sawara Merchant Town Hotel 

Part of an historic town can be yours for a night.

The merchant town of Sawara was built during the Edo period as a water transportation hub. Its distinctive townscape comprises many merchant houses and other traditional architectural structures alongside canals. Nipponia Sawara Merchant Town Hotel is a luxury hotel that has transformed three perfectly preserved historic buildings across the town into a single hotel.


8. Funuya Accommodation 

Hide away in a traditional boathouse.

The Ine waterfront in northern Kyoto Prefecture is lined with around 230 traditional boathouses which have been perfectly preserved and renovated to become cosy inns with closeup water views. Travel back in time with activities like fishing and boat sailing – or explore this unique landscape on a kayak, bike, or as part of a guided tour. Here, you can choose from a variety of beautifully presented boathouse hideaways that make up Funuya Accommodation.


9. The Ninja Mansion 

Rent a historic residence in a rural village.

Located in Toyota, this 150-year-old residence has been renovated and transformed into a one-of-a-kind rental accommodation. On the outskirts of the Aichikogen Quasi-National Park, the house is surrounded by well-maintained gardens for guests to enjoy.

The Ninja Mansion Tourism Toyota 1

Image by Tourism Toyota.


10. Koyasan temple lodgings

Enjoy the tranquillity of monk-style bed and breakfast

Koyasan was traditionally at the end of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route which is still walkable today. Koyasan is home to over 50 temples that offer the opportunity to stay overnight (shukubo) where you can also take part in spiritual practices such as meditation and copying sutras (Buddhist scriptures).