As travelers flock to Japan in ever-increasing numbers, more and more Japanese have woken up to the potential of sharing their homes via services like Airbnb. For visitors on a budget, the range of cheap apartments and houses on offer can be an excellent alternative to hotels, and they can be a great way to meet interesting people as well. Having used Airbnb for several of our trips to Japan, we’d like to share a few things to remember when staying at one:

When Booking

  • Check the location and directions to the nearest train or subway station with Google Maps. We try to pick locations based on easy train access and walkability to points of interest. On our last stay in Osaka we hit the jackpot with an apartment just two minutes’ walk from Kuromon Market — food heaven!
  • Check the access vis a vis your planned luggage. Most rental apartments in the cities are on upper floors, and if there’s no elevator access bringing up big luggage can be a pain.
  • Check the facilities and amenities offered. You can always message the host to clarify what’s available and what isn’t.
  • Check the reviews. We take the more extreme ones with a grain of salt, specially if they’re the only ones who complained of something. We also prioritize hosts who respond well to reviews.
  • Read the house rules and make sure everyone in your party understands them. Across the board, the three most important rules are: no parties or noise, no shoes inside the house, and dispose of your trash as instructed.

On Check-in

  • Most Japanese hosts let you get the keys yourself from a combination-locked keybox, so have that combination written down or in your phone.
  • Every Japanese home has a genkan, or foyer, just inside the door. Leave your shoes here and put on the house slippers when you come inside.
  • Familiarize yourself with the aircon remote
  • If bathroom slippers are provided, you’re expected to use them in the bathroom and nowhere else. Japanese consider it really gross to bring bathroom slippers into the living areas.
  • Keep the noise down, specially if you’re in an apartment. They often have surprisingly thin walls, but you’ll rarely hear your Japanese neighbors through them. Return the courtesy by making sure they don’t hear you. If nothing else, you avoid getting a negative review on Airbnb, and it helps your host stay in business. If the neighbors complain, your Airbnb host could be pressured into not renting out that location anymore.
  • Know where the exits are in case of emergency.

On Check-out

  • Tidy up as much as you can. Hosts really appreciate it if you do. Leaving a mess, on the other hand, can get you a negative review, which could get you turned down by your next host.
  • Leave your trash and garbage in the designated places. If you’re staying for a week or more, your host may have instructions on when to take out different kinds of waste for collection.
  • Don’t forget to turn appliances like the aircon off. (Leave the ref on).
  • Don’t forget to leave the pocket wifi, if the host provided one.
  • Don’t forget to drop off the keys as instructed.

Ki o tsukete kudasai, and enjoy your next trip to Japan!

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