Japan cheap travel

A complete guide to budget travel in Japan

 Mankei-numa Mountain Hut, Soranuma Dake, near Sapporo
 Mankei-numa Mountain Hut, Soranuma Dake, near Sapporo

Mountain huts

Mountain huts are designed to provide hikers with overnight accommodation. As such they are often only accessible by hiking. There are many huts located all over rural Japan. The facilities can vary from unattended huts (like the one in the photo opposite) to cabins that are maintained by a warden. 

Mountain Huts can be totally free with an option for you to leave a small donation in a box for the upkeep. Quite often there will be a fee for the warden-controlled huts. These tend to be cheap but do check before you get there, as there are huts that charge a higher fee and with no other accommodation option available nearby, you will be obliged to pay.  It is also important to check that the huts you plan to visit are actually open, as some will be locked up during mid-week or the off-season.

We stayed in the beautiful mountain hut (shown on the right) beside a lake during a hike near Sapporo. Although this particular hut catered for about 20 people, we shared the space with just one other fellow hiker. We found the Lonely Planet Guide to Hiking in Japan an excellent resource on the mountain huts and for our Japanese hikes. 

Rider's Houses

Rider's Houses are a very cheap accommodation option usually used people who are touring Japan by bicycle or motorcycle, The prices of Rider's Houses start at around 300 yen and many are free. They range from the most basic of huts to bed and breakfasts.  We did not stay in any ourselves but we did hear good things about them from fellow travelers. Although there is no definitive list of Rider's Houses online, the best way to find information is by talking to riders, particularly those who are traveling in the opposite direction and have been where you want to go.