Japanese Stays That Aren’t a Regular Ol’ Hotel, Traditional Ryokan or Hostel

Japan is known for its cutting-edge technology, but that ahead-of-the-game mentality also applies to its accommodation offerings. Sure, it has high-rise hotels and traditional Japanese stays, called ‘ryokans’, but it also pushes boundaries when it comes to accomodation offerings. For example, a hotel with 10 villas that cling to a cliffside, others built around onsens and capsule accommodation with pods.

Ahead, we share more details on these, along with other unique accommodation options in Japan. Book one of these and you’ll extend your holiday to the Land of the Rising Sun beyond your daily activities. Irasshaimase, which means ‘welcome’ in Japanese.

Simose, Horishima

Simose is an art complex in Otake, Hiroshima Prefecture, by the Seto Inland Sea. It has on its grounds art galleries, a French restaurant and 10 differently-designed villas, the work of renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.

The five Forest Villas are scattered in a grove of trees, while the other five, Waterfront Villas, face a water basin. Highlights include the Paper House, which uses recycled paper tubes as its structure, Wall-Less House with three of its sides enclosed by sliding glass doors and Kielsteg House A, which uses an Austrian building material.

Simose floating galleries
Image: Simose

Izumo Hotel The Cliff, Shimane 

On the edge of Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, Hotel The Cliff clings to a rocky cliffside. All eight rooms are built into the cliff face around 10 metres above the beach below, offering close-up views of the crashing waves and vastness of the Sea of Japan.

Each room has a private terrace with a hot tub, facing the sea. The hotel also has one villa available that sleeps up to seven people. After you’ve relaxed in your room, head to the hotel’s restaurant Garb Cliff Terrace for a seasonal seven-course dinner.

Izumo Hotel The Cliff, Shimane 
Image: Hotel The Cliff

Fumimoto Brewery Lodging, Kochi

Fumimoto Brewery in Shimanto, Kochi Prefecture, has been operating for 120 years but underwent a major renovation to reopen in 2023. Guests who want to immerse themselves in the sake brewing experience can stay at one of several overnight options, including a room in a converted temple with a sauna, an inn opened in 1891 where famed novelist Fumiko Hayashi once stayed or a home that sleeps up to eight people.

Learn the intricate processes and ingredients involved in Fumimoto Brewery’s time-honoured tradition of sake-making before tasting its daiginjo sake, which is made with Niida rice sourced from the local area. Book a brewery day tour, grouped with a traditional BBQ lunch or dinner and an overnight stay.

Fumimoto Brewery Lodging
Image: Fuji Fumoto Forest Hotspring

Nol Hakone Myojindai Spa Hotel, Kanagawa

Fans of Japanese onsens and untouched nature will appreciate this stay. On May 17, 2023, the Nol Hakone Myojindai Spa Hotel in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture will reopen after an extensive rebrand and renovation. It’s been designed to rejuvenate your body and mind and reconnect with yourself.

The stay takes full advantage of its surroundings, with a natural onsen with water sourced from nearby Miyagino and a large wooden terrace where you can take in views of the Hakone mountains before or after your onsen dip. After a day of hiking the area, soothe your limbs in its thermal indoor pool.

Nol Hakone Myojindai Spa Hotel, Kanagawa unique accommodation japan
Image: Nol Hakone Myojindai Spa Hotel

Hoshino Resorts KAI Akiu, Miyagi

Hoshino Resorts KAI Akiu in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, opened in April 2024, surrounding popular onsen destination, Akiu Onsen, with a 1,500-year history. Rooms look out over the river and forest and are decorated in blue tones to match the water. They each feature an indoor onsen, outdoor onsen and a footbath, so you can soak while you listen to the babbling river water.

Dine in the property’s traditional Japanese banquet room, sipping sake the ancient way, and learning the ancient customs of food serving. Meals are served on lacquer standing trays and were designed to make guests feel like they were the daimyos, ancient Japanese feudal lords, that once ruled the land.

unique accommodation japan
Image: Hoshino Resorts KAI Akiu

First Cabin

First Cabin is a cross between a capsule hotel and a business stay with over 20 locations around Japan. Instead of bed areas you climb into, it has pods that look like shipping containers on the outside, but inside, like a first-class cabin on a plane – hence the name.

The pods come in four sizes: first class, business class, premium economy and premium class cabin that can sleep up to five people. All options include a control panel that turns on a reading lamp and fan.

First Cabin unique accommodation japan
Image: First Cabin

Related: Discover Kamijima, Japan’s Stunning 25-Island Town

Related: How to Maximise Your Chances of Seeing Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.