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We just booked a 3 week trip to Japan from March 23-April 13 2017. It's so far out that I didn't expect to have any difficulty finding rooms in our base cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Kumamoto. But everything seems to be sold out! Does this seem to be correct or am I maybe trying to book too far out?

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    No, everytrhing is definitely not sold out. Where are you looking, and for what dates exactly? – fkraiem Aug 29 '16 at 0:46
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    trivago.com/… – Karlson Aug 29 '16 at 0:55
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    This is cherry blossom season on Honshu (the main island of Japan), you can expect high demand for hotel rooms over these dates. – Calchas Aug 29 '16 at 1:36
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    We went during this period last year and we found it much easier to find affordable hotels in Kobe and Osaka (as a base for the Nara, Himeji and Kyoto), the difference in price definitely was worth the extra train trips. – drat Aug 29 '16 at 2:44
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    As a little plus to drat's comment, if you are getting a JR Pass, it's even more worth it to stay a bit further than the touristic areas since you can just take the Shinkansen any time you want to go into town. – JS Lavertu Aug 29 '16 at 16:23
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You're trying to book too far out. Many Japanese hotels, especially those not associated with Western chains, only accept bookings for the current and following quarter, meaning rooms for April 2017 may not be released until January 2017.

That said, cherry blossom season is busy, so booking in advance is advisable. If there's a particular hotel you're desperate to stay in, contacting them directly via email or phone may be an option.

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    Thanks. I figured it must be that I'm booking too far out. I realize it's cherry blossom season but I couldn't believe everything would be full 7 months out :) We need to book two rooms (we're a family of 6) so I wanted to book as far in advance as possible just to guarantee we could get both rooms. I'll probably check again next month when it's 6 months out. – RayNW Aug 29 '16 at 3:38
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As jpatokal said, you usually cant't book so much ahead of time, this year in some ryokan it's owner told me that the earliest you could book a room was three months in advance. I don't know if these three months are for every other hotel or the time in which you can book a room varies from hotel to hotel.

You could always use Airbnb japan: http://airbnb.jp/ in order to stay in some houses instead of hotels. As you speak with the owner directly there is no date limit where you can book your stay. I used it this summer and it was great.

  • Yeah, I'm thinking of going that route. Like I said, there are 6 of us...5 of us qualify as "adults" in Japan (even though all children are 13 and younger). There are virtually no rooms under $1000/night to accommodate all of us (unlike in the US where there are several chains with inexpensive suites that fit 6 adults) so then we're stuck booking 2 rooms but even finding rooms that accommodate 3 adults can be a bit challenging. I've only had 1 experience with an Airbnb though and it was pretty terrible so I'm weighing my options ;) – RayNW Aug 30 '16 at 18:46
  • I was this past summer from June 24 to July 13, I went with two airbnb houses (I've been usin them a few years back and I've been lucky and always had a good experience). In Tokyo the house was very cheap, roughly 5178 yens each night, we were 5 adults, sleeping on futons on the same room, but we could fit in somewhat comfortable. in Kyoto it was a bit more expensive, 14385 each night, but it was a bigger house, with two separate bedrooms. I can give you the links if you're interested. – Angrod Aug 31 '16 at 10:49

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