Japan, with its ancient culture and deep rooted traditions that survive till today, is also home to an alternative ‘kawaii’ or ‘cute’ pop culture. Very rarely do two cultures run parallel in such contrast. Both cultures pop up in every sphere of life, but nowhere are they as evident as they are in the way that locals do up their homes. Make your trip to Japan memorable by staying at one of these really traditional or super-kawaii vacation homes.
1. 200-year-old traditional thatched roof house outside Kyoto
Experience Kyoto from another perspective. Book this thatched roof house an hour to the north from central Kyoto for an authentic traditional experience. Your stay at this laid back place located in Keihoku will be in the middle of mountains with waterfalls and a river flowing nearby. The friendly hosts live in the neighbourhood and have a farm where they grow their own produce and share the seasonal organic produce with guests. They also conduct yoga classes for those keen on keeping their mind and body fit. The crisp mountain air and the Cedar trees in the surroundings make for a perfect setting for the various tours and treks they offer. You could also cycle around on the free bicycles that come with the house! Other than the regular Kyoto city tour with its temples and shrines, they also organise tours to a sake brewery, a thatched roof house village, a night firefly viewing tour, and a special seafood tour. The house has tatami mat floor rooms with traditional seating, futons, an irori or open hearth room, a covered veranda, traditional painted screens, and tapestry.
Average price per night: SGD 176
2. Old machiya townhouse artistically done up by local designers
Enjoy your Kyoto stint at this recently renovated but ancient townhouse in the pretty Fushimi area with its old-town feel. Located in a quiet neighbourhood near central Kyoto, this house has been done up with the help of local artists and designers. Every nook and cranny of the house reflects the traditional spirit of the country. The walls, screens, corners, decoration items, garden spaces, and furniture have all been painted traditionally or are restored authentic items. The quaint house is near sake bars, restaurants, temples, shrines and shops, yet far enough to give you complete seclusion. This area is also known for its sake production, with about 20 breweries nearby. That should be quite an educational and fun tour!
Average price per night: SGD 100
3. Traditional house in Kyoto with a resident robot
A Kyoto stay with a tech-twist. In true modern Japanese style, this 80-year-old renovated HomeAway has a robot called Pepper for a host; of course, there is another ‘real’ host as well! The house has all the trappings of a traditional Japanese home – tatami mat floors, screens, futons, low seating, and prayer area – and a white AI robot proficient in English who is fun for the kids and proxies as your host at times! This home in the Kitayama area has a number of izakaya style eateries, a pizza place, and a Teppenyaki place close to it. It is conveniently located near Kitaoji Station, which is just 10 minutes away on foot. There is a convenience store, a supermarket, a public spa, a shopping area and fast food outlets all about 10 minutes on foot from the house.
4. Cute newly renovated room in Osaka
This neat room, entirely done up with a fun SpongeBob SquarePants theme, is cuteness overload. The pop colours complement the theme, and even some of the appliances are stamped with SpongeBob! The host of this room that can accommodate up to 4 guests is extremely enthusiastic and very helpful. It is located well – in a safe residential area – around shops, izakayas, cafes, a supermarket, and restaurants. Both the subway stations and the JR are less than 5 minutes on foot from the room. Nagai Park, one of the oldest parks in Osaka, is nearby. Other than the beautiful blooms of sakura and other flowers, the park also has a botanical garden, a Natural History Museum, and a sumo ring.
Average price per night: SGD 57
5. Disney themed one-bedroom apartment in Tokyo
It’s Disney’s Mickey and Minnie all the way at this super cute one-bedroom HomeAway in Tokyo. Ideal for up to 4 guests, the apartment also has a kitchen space with all basic amenities. Everything from the linen to the towels and the bedside clock are stamped with the famous characters. There are even a couple of stuffed character toys to complete the Mickey-Minnie theme. Located in Minato Ku near Mita Station, there are a number of stores, restaurants, convenience stores, and a supermarket near the apartment.
Average price per night: SGD 249
6. Hello Kitty themed one-bedroom apartment in Shinjuku
This one-bedroom HomeAway in Shinjuku is the perfect pad to set out exploring Tokyo from. Ideal for a group of three, the apartment is done up in Japan’s favourite kawaii style – it’s Hello Kitty all over the place. From the linen and floor mats to the crockery, wall clock, and towels, it’s white and pink, cute kitty wherever you look. This place definitely transports you to a typical Japanese teenager’s world. Set out of here and you will reach Shinjuku in under 4 minutes by subway. There are convenience stores, drug stores and fast food restaurants within walking distance from the apartment.
Average price per night: SGD 270
HomeAway is the world leader in vacation rentals. The HomeAway network of sites represent more than 1.2 million listings of vacation rental homes in 190 countries and is part of the Expedia group family of brands. Visit www.homeaway.com.my or download the HomeAway app to choose the ideal holiday homes and homestays for your next holiday.