I'm attending a conference in Kyoto at the Kyoto International Conference Center. I'm looking for accommodation that has quick public transport to the ICC, is inexpensive (but probably not a monastery, as I don't want it to be deliberately austere, have curfews, or encourage religious practice), and ideally be somewhat Japanese-style.

As authentic ryokans are expensive, I assume I should be looking for a minshuku or doya instead, although they may call themselves "ryokans".

From the ICC's link to the Japanese Inn Group, I found Ryokan Rakucho (though not really a ryokan, as it doesn't provide any meals), charging 5,300 yen per night for a single person. This is viable, but appears to be more expensive than hostel accommodation. Would the following generalisations be true about minshukus and doyas versus youth hostels in Kyoto?

  • Minshukus and doyas provide your own room, whereas hostels provide you with just a bed in a shared room (though some provide you with the option of having your own room for a higher fee).
  • Minshukus and doyas are more expensive than a hostel bed.

Also, how do minshukus and doyas tend to compare with hostels in Kyoto in terms of overall number of customers staying at the place, ease of booking for people not proficient in Japanese, and proximity to public transport?

  • 1
    IMO those questions of terminology are totally irrelevant. Look up places, see what services/experience they offer and at what price, and if you find one that loooks good, book. The answer you link says that only places where dinner is served in the room and maids are present are considered ryokans; that's bollocks, as any Japanese will tell you. Many places where no maids are present and meals are served in a common dining room are still unquestionably ryokans.
    – fkraiem
    Jun 4, 2016 at 16:49
  • @JonathanReez did you capitalise "minshukus" and "doyas" merely because they're loan words? Jun 4, 2016 at 22:34
  • I believe the question title is easier to read that way, as I've personally been very confused as to what "doyas" means in English.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 5, 2016 at 7:20
  • As with what @fkraiem said, I think you have some severe misinterpretations of what constitutes a Ryokan. They don't have to serve food and in some cases you even have to share bathing facilities. Further, hostels do actually have single rooms. And why have you decided that a standard hotel is not a go? I am getting hits at 3000~3500 yen a night in a double standard room with breakfast (albeit not Japanese style). cont... Jun 6, 2016 at 1:03
  • ... For a slightly more Japanese feel, this Ryokan style Hotel is 3 subways stations away from Kyoto Kokusai Kaikan and is 6600 yen a night including breakfast. jalan.net/yad334440/… Jun 6, 2016 at 1:04

1 Answer 1


The differences between Ryokan and Minshuku have become blurred over time. While back in time, they were worlds apart, one serving members of the court while the other served the lesser ranked members of the entourage, when the court traveled between castles. Today they are not as distinctively different. And using "ryokan" in a hotel name is cheesy marketing ploy to attract more uninformed tourists.

But to your points, not all minshukus provide private rooms, some place several travelers in a shared room. Some serve food, some don't. You basically have to research each one to see if it offers what you want at a price you can afford.

The advantage of a real minishuku over a hostel is atmosphere, you would be sleeping on a futon on the tatami mat floor, enjoying a hot water tub for soaking, more traditional Japanese dinner. A hostel would be western style beds, basic bathrooms, head out for fast food at dinner time.

As far as number of guests, that would be determined by the facility's capacity, not type as you can find both large and small versions of each.

  • Otherwise +1, but I've never seen a minshuku that did not offer private rooms, and it's fairly unusual these days to find one even offering shared/dorm accommodation. Hostels, on the other hand, default to shared dorms and sometimes offer private rooms. Jun 5, 2016 at 3:15
  • @jpatokal - I have run into minshukus that put single travelers together, only 2 or 3 in a room, but nonetheless sleeping with strangers. It maybe unusual, but it does exist, so a reason to research the lodging choices carefully before booking rather than assuming.
    – user13044
    Jun 5, 2016 at 3:34
  • When I traveled Japan, back in '94 I used Hosteling International hostels and some of those where 'Japanese style' and pretty much what is described as a minishuku with shared dorms. One that I remember as such was near 姫路城 Himeji-jō.
    – Willeke
    Jun 5, 2016 at 8:39

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