As most visitors know, living space is at a premium in Japan. As a consequence, the capsule hotel was born. Here you get a very small room with just enough space for your bed and a television. As a rough size guide, think of a four-poster bed in an English country house; where the whole room is slightly smaller than bed. Clever lighting and mirrors make the most of each room, but even Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen couldn't make these rooms appear spacious. Prices start at about £15.00 per room per night, so they're a good budget option.
If you are feeling amorous; you might want to visit one of Japan 's fabled love hotels. As the name suggests, these are hotels with a specific purpose; for couples to spend some 'quality time' together. The phrase to look out for is rabu hoteru, but most of these hotels aren't difficult to spot, as they combine Las Vegas tackiness with Manga chic. Think giant neon hearts and Hello Kitty pyjamas. A recent legal crackdown on the love hotels(the Public Morals Act) means that the gaudier examples can now only be found in certain areas of Japanese cities, mainly Tokyo and Osaka.
Getting a room at a love hotel is a discreet process, because many bashful visitors are put off by face-to-face contact with staff. You can usually choose your room by pressing a button on a panel, and pay through a cash machine. Rates vary depending on whether you want to stay all night or simply want a 'rest' for a couple of hours during the day. For an overnight stay in an average love hotel, expect to pay between £30.00 and £60.00 per room. The more expensive places have the most outlandish décor and interesting facilities.
If you want to stay somewhere more traditional, try a night or two at one of the ryokan. These are Japanese inns where you can immerse yourself in the culture during your stay. You will be given traditional dress and slippers to wear and you can try a variety of Japanese food before relaxing in the communal mineral bath. Be warned, though, that you will be expected to get into the spirit of things and conform to certain customs; such as sleeping on a futon on the floor. If you can't bear to eat with chopsticks, the ryokan are not for you. Prices start at about £30.00 for a night. Dinner and breakfast are usually included in the price.
Of course, Japan has its fair share of Western-style hotels, especially in the cities, and most international hotel chains have hotels there. However, if you want to get the most out of your stay, it's a good idea to step out of your comfort zone and experience idiosyncratic Japanese accommodation.