Japan is now officially open to travelers, and we couldn’t be more excited. For an immersive way to experience this stunning island nation of mountains and sea, traditional homes and gardens, consider an Airbnb stay. A few we love.
Traditional Japanese House, Lake Saiko
Showcasing the beautiful characteristics of early traditional Japanese architecture (A-shaped thatched roof, cedar wood), the 100-year-old Japanese House (kominka) is located in a quiet forest near Lake Saiko. The interior, renovated in 2022, features a tatami room, courtyard laden with flowers and trees, Japanese-style bedroom, lake views, and, coming soon, a semi-open bath.
Villa El Cielo Ishigaki, Okinawa
Ocean lovers will adore Villa El Cielo Ishigaki, on Ishigaki Island, for its private pool and rooftop deck, offering stunning ocean views by day; starry sky by night. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom villa, just steps from the beach, is also home to a sweet garden, complete with birdsong.
For skiers (and those who love a 007 vibe), this contemporary, minimalist villa comes with stunning views of Mt Yotei and the Hirafu ski resort. Ori features three western-style ensuite bedrooms, one ensuite tatami room, and inside Japanese gardens.
Izu Cliff House, Izu Peninsula
Mountains meet sea at this modernist, all-glass cliffside villa on Japan’s Izu Peninsula. Built in 1971, the home sits, alone, inside a coastal National Park. Close to hiking trails, hot springs, temples and Japan’s famous beaches, Cliff House offers endless views of the Pacific Ocean. Other standouts include the traditional Japanese room with tatami mat flooring and sliding shoji paper doors, a large camphor-wood daybed and cypress stools carved by local craftsmen.
This traditional Japanese townhouse, extensively renovated by award-winning architects, sits in the middle of the Gion-Yasaka-Kiyomizu district (one of Kyoto’s most popular areas). While the feel is still that of a traditional house, guests can expect modern updates like skylights, exposed beams, deep soaking tubs, and loads of sunlight. We love the traditional Japanese tatami room with a view of the small, private Japanese garden.
Private Hot Spring Resort, Hakone, Ashigarashimo-gun
Japan is known for its onsens (hot springs), most of them public. But this hot spring resort is completely private for up to 40 guests. Spanning two stories, the villa features four onsen pools, (two outdoors; two indoors). The spring water is fresh and pumped directly from a nearby volcano.
Chalet Seshu, Hirafu Village, Niseko
A favorite among skiers, the five-bedroom Chalet Seshu is located right in Hirafu Village. Interiors are stylish and living space spans three floors. A complimentary shuttle operates daily from the Hirafu slopes in winter; bedrooms feature balconies with mountain views.
Villa in Shima
Set on a cliff, overlooking the white sandy beach and emerald green sea of Goza Shirahama Beach, this villa is completely private. Designed in traditional Japanese style, the home features two bedrooms and a tatami room (with mattresses). Savor the view from the yogibo, overlooking the sea, and relax in the outdoor, rooftop Finnish sauna, followed by a dip in the outdoor air bath.
Aquaholic Iritahama, Shimoda, Shizuoka, Japan
Rent one side of this luxurious duplex villa or take over its entirety. Set on Iritahama beach, considered one of Japan’s most beautiful, Aquaholic features pops of blue (matching the sea) and outdoor jacuzzi with more water views.
Matsuya Villa, Kyoto
Located in the heart of Kyoto, Matsuya retains the tradition of Japan, while incorporating modern-day amenities: heated floors, bathtub with a view. Highlights include the tea room and gardens, including a pine tree (growing in the middle garden) after which the home is named.