Two weeks in Japan, five ABB and my experiences

I am a host in Australia, fairly new at 18 months, but grew up in the family owned hotel / resort business. I have just spent 2 weeks in Japan with accommodation arranged by my daughter who is working over there. There were 6 of us in our group. The minimum was one night, maximum was three nights.
Airbnb is illegal in Tokyo and I am unsure about the other cities we stayed in. of the five stays, only one took her hosting duties seriously. All the others were like a serviced apartment, no interaction with anyone, self check in and out.
What I found…
Every guest book asked us not to discuss Airbnb with anyone.
Three of the five were only barely clean.
Supplies in in units were beyond bare - 1 knife, not even salt and pepper, minimal crockery and cooking equipment.
Wifi was advertised, but on arrival the usage allowance was appalling with one place only allowing 500
megabytes a day! Others were 3 gig over 3 days, if you went over you lost access for the rest of the stay.
Hot water usage was limited - use it all and none for 12 hours - remember 6 guests.
Lots of notices on wall regarding energy usage.
All of the hosts had multiple properties, one advertising 13 on the site. the one host i met had had 5 studio units all rented from landlords.
The linens were tired, the towels tiny, and everything felt on the cheap.
I have to say that I felt shorted, these were no better than a basic serviced apartment and it wasn’t the experience that Airbnb tries to push and definitely not what I offer at my Airbnb properties.
Next time it will be a hotel…I know what I will be getting…something impersonal.

Were these places well reviewed?


My daughter did the bookings. it was hard to find places that would fit six guests so i think she took what was available.

I hope that you reported these places! It’s anonymous, I think.

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The review system is really the only check we have on dumps. Airbnb cannot visit all the listings. If people don’t review honestly, or they skip reviewing or people keep booking places with bad or no reviews then they are going to stay in business. It’s unfortunate but I really don’t know what the solution is. Refuse to allow listings in Tokyo since they are illegal?

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Reported to whom? Airbnb? I don’t speak Japanese…but I can see why large cities are worried about the loss of accommodation to people who need to live and rent there.

Airbnb is illegal in Singapore as well, let Airbnb regularly advertise the listing there.

Hi @Debthecat

Sorry you had this experience, but as a host you will know the importance of checking reviews and listing descriptions.

I think it is alway a high risk strategy to stay in listings where you know they are all illegal and where you haven’t checked reviews and the listing to ensure the quality in as much as you can.

If your daughter couldn’t find the quality you were looking for, a better decision perhaps would have been one of their smaller hotels.

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These could have been quality stays, but the cheap hosts attitude shone thru, with the penny pinching that made the guest feel that they were nothing but an income source.
Could have been a serviced apartment and if it had been advertised as that - fine.
But severely limiting wifi and hot water, put a bad taste in my mouth.

@Debthecat A question: How did prices compare to hotel prices?
Did the rooms being very basic have anything to do with the price? I always understood that Japan is quite expensive, so maybe you just get a lot less for your money.

Yes, When you go to a listing there’s a link that says ‘report this listing’. Please do so as these hosts give Airbnb (and therefore us) a bad name.

Everyone has a choice. When you’re driving in an area that has a 30 mph speed limit you have the choice to abide by that or not. If you don’t, and you get a ticket, you have only yourself to blame.

I’m wondering why you chose to go into an Airbnb when you knew it wasn’t legal there?

I didn’t choose - my daughter is an avid fan of Airbnb and she wasn’t aware of the illegality of the listings. She did all the bookings. There are thousands in Tokyo alone.

Sorry but I still don’t get it. An experienced host and an ‘avid Airbnb fan’ would know full well if listings were illegal. But the point is, did you report them?

She didn’t know and I left the accommodation up to her. If you see thousands of listings for a place, you would assume that all is well. It wasn’t till we were there that the secrecy of being an Airbnb guest became clear. Why would you risk losing the prepaid bookings she already had and we were there at one of the busiest times - golden week.
All her others stays have been in the US aNd parts of Asia.
I will be reporting them

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I believe it’s relatively recent that Japan has legislated against Airbnb? So maybe the bookings were made before that. I remember reading a v interesting article about how difficult it was to get the Airbnb concept accepted in Japan, notorious for it’s hostility/shyness to foreigners. There were some fantastic listings cited in the article. But yes, a place for 6 people is hard to find in many countries so your options would be very limited. And if you’re looking for low prices, well it’s the same everywhere. Don’t blame Japan, blame your daughter!


No, this is not true… I was just there. They love tourists as much as the next country. Yes, they are a bit reserved, but calling them hostile is inaccurate.

It’s not as expensive as everyone thinks. I stayed at a darling guest inn in Kyoto for $58 a night and dined on sushi that was under $1 for two pieces, any style. My airline ticket was cheaper than flying to California from here. The only thing I found expensive was the trains.

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It sounds like due to the size of your group, the only listings that were available were the commercial Airlords who seek to pack as many beds into a space to max out occupancy. I can’t imagine these types of places to feel anything more than hostels. It would have probably been a good idea for your group to split into 2 and then search by map for units close to each other.

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Where is @hypertokyo would love to hear their thoughts!?

AirBnB in Japan aren’t actually hosted by the local population (read: Japanese) much. This sounds weird, but unless you find someone with a Japanese name, an actual picture of a Japanese person, a Japanese written description, the chances are astronomical that you’ve taken for the Chinese/Vietnamese/Philippines or otherwise SEA trap.

To give you a gross outline of how these things coke to be, there are Chinese/SEA people, who come to Japan after a long fight to get a visa (they mostly will either study Japanese 6 months or attend a short term exchange between universities). While in Japan they look for a largely cheap apartment and when they are at the end of their visa, they leave Japan but retain the apartment and ask their fellow countrymen, who are otherwise either unable to do this themselves and/or need some extra cash, to clean these apartments. For them, it’s as purely for money as this will set them for life in their cheap(er) country.

Of course there is a huge secrecy. That’s because it’s mostly illegal (as the majority of apartments are not owned but rented) and there is no insurance coverage, let alone, if something happened they don’t touch these people as they have left the country.

Japan of course hates these type of people with a passion. It’s like finding a sushi restaurant abroad and thinking it’s Japanese. Yeah… they are mostly not. And sadly people don’t know the difference. It’s just a cheap and terrible knockoff of Japan.

The more you know!
(I have worked and lived in Japan for several years and speak fluent Japanese)


Sorry about your experience. With this kind of amenities, it must have a poor rating. But anyway, there are all kinds of properties on Airbnb and guests pick what they feel fits their needs. So, this situation is just a bad luck or you gotta be more attentive when picking a property to stay.