One other source of information on accommodations that deserves mention is Toho, the magazine for a unique group of lodges - most of which are in Hokkaido - that are like a cross between a minshuku and a youth hostel, generally combining the best elements of each. The inns are called "Toho-yado" (yado meaning "inn").

In the words of the Toho Association:

"TOHO is the name of a tourist-house association based on a common tourist spirits, and its name derives from walking or to use your own feet in Japanese. Information about TOHO is spread by word of mouth among tourists and backpackers in Japan, and we also publish a little magazine with the same name ["Toho"] annually. Unlike hotels, where guests are isolated, our tourist-house are places where travelers can meet and share experiences with house owners. It's like a youth hostel without a members card."

In other words: you sleep in a room with other people, but the meals in particular are far better than what you would get at most youth hostels... and the camaraderie is the same; these are great places to meet people. The book-like magazine (in Japanese only) is often sold at youth hostels, and it's inexpensive (400 yen). If you can't find it, don't worry: like most everything these days, Toho is now on the web! The English info page is at:


However, this only lists a few inns, presumably because they're the only ones that can deal with visitors in English. The map with links to Japanese descriptions (and photos) of all of the accommodations on various islands is at the main Japanese site:


This will bring up two maps, one of Hokkaido and one of Honshu. Clicking the links on the maps will bring up tables with contact information for the individual lodgings in that area. As you can see, most of the Toho-yado are on the island of Hokkaido, making this a particularly valuable source if you're planning on visiting Japan's northern isle.

As mentioned in the Road Maps section, the Touring Mapple guides show the location of Toho-yado inns right on the touring maps.

For other reference materials that you may find useful in route planning, see RESOURCES.