Airbnb to me was always the thing lots of travelers talked about using but I never had the chance to try it for myself. Everyone had always had positive experiences with this site and so I really wanted to try it myself sometime. I really wanted to know what it was like to spend some time living like a local in the city I was visiting. This is why I was very excited to be able to stay in an airbnb appartment in Japan! Things didn’t exactly go completely as planned though. What happened? Keep reading to find out!
Booking the airbnb appartment
My sister and I were planning on staying in two areas for our stay in Tokio, Asakusa and Shinjuku. In the first of these two we managed to book a hotel within our budget quite quickly. The Shinjuku area however was a lot more expensive and the couple of hotels that we did know were already booked. This is when I remembered the airbnb site and saw the opportunity for us to give it a try.
There were lots of different options to choose from, but we went with one that was within walking distance from Shinjuku station, had free, place for two people and lookd clean and calm. We also checked the reviews, which were great. It was even a bit cheaper than most of the hotels would have been so we immidiately booked the room.
Staying there illigally
We payed, got a confirmation from airbnb as well as the owner of the place and we printed out all of the information. Everything seemed completely fine up untill about a week before our check in date. The owner sent us a message: Japan had changed the law concerning airbnb. Only owners of apartments that had a license could still rent out their place. However, existing bookings (booked before this change) for the ones that didn’t could still take place as well. So we didn’t have anything to worry still.
That is untill three days before we were supposed to check in. I received a message that airbnb had cancelled our reservation because of the changed Japanese law. Apparently they had to cancel all of the reservations at places without a license, three days in advance. Why just three days in advance? I don’t know, seemed a bit weird to us. The whole thing was weird to us and my heart started racing like an idiot. Luckily, the owner of the place contacted me about this. He said he didn’t know this would happen as well and was really sorry, but he would still let us stay in his place for the dates we booked it, so that was awesome! I mean, we stayed there illegally lol but that’s okay.
Airbnb refunded us the entire payment within just a few days, which was great. What was also great, was that since we now had to pay for the appartment in cash, we didn’t have to pay the airbnb service costs! Who doesn’t love saving money right? The owner and I had contact over e-mail a couple of times and he provided us with all of the information we needed to know. He was a perfect host and tried incredibly hard to make us feel welcome and secure. I’m sure hell get his license soon too.
The appartment itself was just perfect, I think it was the best place we stayed at during our entire Japan trip. It was nice and bright, but of course it had curtains to make it pitchdark. It wasn’t extremely big, but it was large enough for the both of us to be able to put our bags and other belongings somewhere and still be able to walk around. The bed was a little small for us though haha. Japanese people are just a lot smaller than we are. It worked out fine though and we slept really well, the bed was great. We had a tiny balcony even, as well as a bathtub and a shower (in one). There was also a TV that we didn’t use, the appartment complex was very quiet, we never saw anyone else, there was a cheap vending machine for water nearby, we were close to the park and also to the station and restaurants. The best thing of all though: the portable wifi device. I had thought about renting one myself for my entire stay in Japan and ended up not doing it. I’m very glad I didn’t, mostly because there’s free wifi almost anywhere in Japan. However, having this portable wifi device for the first couple of days in Japan was just perfect! We could work out how all of the systems with the metro and subway worked, we used Google maps quite a lot and we were able to post on our social media regularly. We also played pokémon go a couple times that was awesome haha.
So even though things went wrong because of the change in laws, everything turned out just fine in the end and we had a great experience. Airbnb itself is very easy to use, they offered to help us find a new place to stay because of the cancellation and we got our refund very quickly. They also still allowed us to communicate with the appartment owner. Which was a great guy and great host. I’d leave a perfect review if I could but you know, his airbnb page is down. Te appartment was perfect too, 10/10 would book through airbnb again and 10/10 would book this appartment again.