Panel agrees to ease rules for paid accommodation in private homes
Japan Today -- Jan 13
A panel of experts set up by the health ministry and the tourism agency agreed Tuesday to ease regulations regarding paid accommodation in private homes in Japan, amid a growing number of foreign visitors to Japan.

Easing regulations on such accommodation is seen as a remedy for the shortage of hotels in Japan amid a surge in foreign travelers to the country in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The expert panel established by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Japan Tourism Agency decided to designate private houses and apartments as a category of simple accommodation under the hotel business act.

The law stipulates that facilities designated as simple accommodation must have 33 square meters or more of floor space for guest rooms. But the panel plans to relax that condition for such accommodation in private houses, as for "minpaku" as the practice is known in Japanese.

Although under the law, individuals are supposed to obtain permits from local authorities if they want to offer paid accommodation, many people do so without proper authorization. Problems with noise, garbage and other things have been cited over such accommodation in private homes.

During Tuesday's meeting, the experts also broadly agreed to require operators to confirm the identity of their paying guests and to respond to emergency situations.

News source: Japan Today
Jan 17
Spending by visitors from abroad during their stays in Japan exceeded 4 trillion yen for the first time on record in 2017, the Japan National Tourism Organization said in a preliminary report on Tuesday. (Jiji)
Jan 16
Discount retailer Don Quijote Co. unveiled a renovated Ferris wheel Monday in Osaka’s Dotonbori shopping district. (Japan Times)
Jan 15
About 2,000 women who are or will turn 20 years old as of April 1 took part in an annual New Year archery event for new adults at Sanjusangendo, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, on Sunday. (Japan Today)
Jan 15
Grab your towel because it's time for an epic Japanese onsen bath adventure! We will explore 12 Onsen Towns, hopping from one to another as a "bath tourist" around Fukushima. Naked outside in the snow? It's part of the fun! (ONLY in JAPAN)
Jan 12
Japan received a record number of overseas visitors in 2017 for the fifth straight year, with the greatest growth coming from Asian countries, where low-cost air carriers are expanding service. (Nikkei)
Jan 05
The Japanese government will launch a project to convert all traditional squat toilets in popular tourist destinations into sit-on types that are more commonly used in other developed countries. (NHK)
Jan 01
Millions on Japanese ushered in the new year early Monday by visiting shrines, as well as going to vantage spots to watch the first sunrise (hatsuhinode) of 2018. (Japan Today)
Dec 31
A section near Tokyo's Shibuya railway station will be made a vehicle-free promenade for the upcoming New Year's countdown. (NHK)
Dec 31
The capital saw its first snowfall of the season on Sunday as cold air gripped eastern Japan with the approach of a low pressure system, the Meteorological Agency said. (Japan Times)
Dec 30
Japanese travelers are crowding highways, train stations and airports as they head to their hometowns and leisure spots for the New Year holidays. (NHK)