What would be the cheapest way to sleep in Tokyo without having to travel far away from the city center? Some basic comfort level is expected so sleeping in a back alley is excluded.

By "city center", I mean the big connected areas like Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, etc.

I have a decent enough understanding of japanese to conduct basic conversation and orient myself around.

My guesses are either couch surfing or sleeping in 24h manga cafes, but I would like to know if there are other options.

  • Capsule Hotels, Business Hotels, Budget Hotels, Normal Hotels etc. It would be helpful to know what you class as "Central Tokyo" as well as your appropriate level of Japanese. May 23, 2016 at 1:11
  • This question is not very clear. Since couchsurfing is (I think) free, you can't go cheaper than that, so it answers the question as asked in the title.
    – fkraiem
    May 23, 2016 at 1:15
  • @fkraiem I suppose then the question would be, how to find somewhere to couch surf? May 23, 2016 at 1:18
  • @TheWanderingCoder When I hear that term I immediately think of couchsurfing.com, although indeed that may not be what OP had in mind. (I do not practice it myself, so not sure how well it works in Japan.)
    – fkraiem
    May 23, 2016 at 1:21
  • Another ¥0 option would be to go to the international terminal of Haneda airport, which is open 24 hours (and is in the 23 wards, which is the common definition of "central Tokyo").
    – fkraiem
    May 23, 2016 at 1:25

3 Answers 3


There are quite a few options in Tokyo for the budget conscious traveller and some of these are seasonally effected (for both price and availability).



The first place most Japanese people I know (as well as personally) check is a site / app called じゃらん. じゃらん shows all hotels with vacancies including low cost business hotels all the way up to places like the Ritz Carlton. They also offer last chance details usually available up to the last check-in time of each individual establishment. Capsule hotels that show up are not representative of all existing establishments (in the sense that a lot of capsule hotels do not advertise through it). Also じゃらん does not give you love hotels as an option (although this can be cheap in a pinch).

Standard Hotels

A room in a standard hotel off-peak or one that has many vacancies can sometimes be cheap. Average Price ¥4000~¥8000. (NOTE: A standard hotel room)

Air B'n'B

Japan now has a semi-booming Air B'n'B market where you can sometime snap a place really cheap. It is wise to note that there is somewhat of state of unrest with some normal residents who own adjacent houses because of the noise associated with many people moving in and out of a place. If possible get a hosted place as it usually comes with meals and is usually a house. Average Price ¥1500~¥8000. (NOTE: As domiciles are inherently different, the size of your room / apartments may vary drastically)

Business Hotels

These usually offer a cheap room with a bed, TV and Wifi however showers / toilets are usually communal. Average Price ¥2000~¥7000. (NOTE: The room is usually the size of the bed + a small alcove)

Budget Hotels

Usually have the off-peak rates of a standard hotel but all year round. The rooms are smaller and in some cases the showers are communal. Average Price ¥2000~¥5000. (NOTE: Expect a smaller than standard hotel size room with a Unit Bath / Shower)

Capsule Hotels

These offer a capsule that has a bed, air-conditioning, TV and Wifi however showers / toilets are usually communal. Average Price ¥1500~¥5000. (NOTE: The capsule is usually slightly larger than the size of a person, is separated at the entry by only a curtain and may have a ladder to get to your capsule)


There are many cheap hostels available (especially around Asakusa however they trend to be booked out 2-4 months in advance especially ahead of certain seasons. Most of the time these are shared dorms however there are usually facilities available to hold your valuables. Average Price ¥1000~¥4000 (NOTE: Room size is sometimes large however you will most likely only get a bed surrounded by other people. Showers / bathrooms are often communal).


Japan does actually have an Association of Backpackers and Youth Hostels (Not the official name) and as such there are a few backpacker-specific lodgings around. They are quite hard to find and are usually quite similar to Hostels except there is a chance you may get your own room. Average Price: ¥1000~¥3500 (NOTE: Room size could be either communal or similar in size to a business hotel. Showers / bathrooms are often communal).

Couch Surfing

Couch surfing is a possibility, however you may struggle to find a place. @fkraiem mentions the site couchsurfing.com however as I have not used it before I am not sure how reliable it may be. Your mileage may vary. Average Price: FREE~¥2000 (NOTE: As with Air B'n'B, domiciles are inherently different and the size of your room / apartment may vary drastically).

24-Hour Open Public Spaces

There are quite a large amount of 24-hour locations around Tokyo however Train Stations and Bus Stations are not usually included (as most if not all of them close). Both Narita and Haneda Airports are for the most part open 24-hours a day however there are reports of being moved on by overzealous security guards (or even kicked out of the building for a few hours). Some Convenience stores have a café attachment and are open 24 hours a day. Staying without purchasing anything will usually result in being asked politely to leave hence purchasing a small drink / snack is recommended. Average Price: FREE~¥500 (NOTE: You are sleeping on either an uncomfortable bench, seat or the floor. Showers / bathrooms are either non-existent or require a small fee).

"Slumming It"

By a newspaper / ask for some cardboard boxes from a supermarket, find a nice corner somewhere that is out of the weather, cover yourself in the boxes / get inside them and go to sleep. Carries a small risk of being assaulted / Robbed / Arrested. Use at your own risk. Strongly not recommended, but included to mention all options. Average Price: FREE ~ All of your money (NOTE: You are sleeping in / under a cardboard box. There are no showers unless it rains and you are feeling game enough).

This is by no means an exhaustive list and I shall add to it when I find more. Further, the prices listed are inductive of what I have paid previously (in the past 3 years or less) as well as quick online searches in times that I have not experienced a lodging.

  • +1, but your prices are off: Y2000 won't get you a hotel or even capsule in central Tokyo (Marunouchi, Shibuya etc), you'd have to traipse off to deep Shitamachi for prices in that range. May 23, 2016 at 12:00
  • Not if you get a day where they didn't get many people. I have got a capsule hotel for ¥2200 In Shinjuku last year. However generally you are correct. Hence why I have a top and bottom range. Also, sometimes Jalan gives ridiculously cheap prices. I have stayed in Akebana for ¥1500 when I was job hunting a few years ago care of a last minute look. Also note that booking in advance doesn't always get the cheapest prices. May 24, 2016 at 0:05

I don't know if it is the cheapest, but the Sauna Century is only $18 a night, with free WiFi. Of course, your "room" will only be 1m x 1m x 2m, so the size of a generous coffin, but it's clean, safe, and cheap.

  • Sauna Century is a Capsule Hotel. There are plenty of them for similar prices. Why single out just one? May 23, 2016 at 5:36
  • @TheWanderingCoder -- the answer to your question -- I don't know if it is a good answer, but it is the answer -- is that it was the first one to turn up in Google and it looked pretty nice. May 23, 2016 at 18:40
  • Fair enough. Apologies if I sounded a bit irate. May 25, 2016 at 1:28
  • @TheWanderingCoder -- did you have a theory? I doubt the Sauna is employing sock-puppets to haunt travel.SE. May 25, 2016 at 4:03
  • A theory? I just thought a more complete answer could include more than one option was all. May 25, 2016 at 5:32

24h-open McDonalds is probably the cheapest of all; you can just purchase a few hamburgers (or even only a cup of coffee) and just stay there, or sleep on the chair.

In fact if you enter McDonalds midnight on the city centre that is open 24h, you can find a few people, even as many as 10, who is over 40 years old, are just sleeping there. And the clerks don't mind it or came to get used to it, and thus most stores won't drive you.

Note that many stores clean the floor around AM 3:00 to 5:00. During the cleaning time, you are asked to move to different floors or leave the store.

If you think it is uncomfortable, then go to the Internet cafe (or manga cafe). However, many of those cafes require you to register the service and usually require you to submit identification (such as driver's license for native citizens). I don't know if they accept the passport, though.

Without these two, probably you should check out the hostels or something such (if the airport is too far away).

  • McDonalds can and will kick you out unless you appear to be doing something. Some McDonalds for I am unsure what reason actually get very busy between 1-4AM and as such it may not be the most ideal sleeping environment (I tried it and needless to say I had an hour before I got woken up). Most Manga Cafes do require registration however most do accept your passport (unless you have a Japanese Zairyu Card or Japanese Drivers Licence). May 31, 2016 at 0:17

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