Japan has its own answer to Airbnb

hyakusenrenma japan airbnb screen shot 2016 05 07 at 8 33 19 pm
Airbnb may be facing regulatory hurdles all around the world, but that’s not stopping copycats and competitors from trying their own luck at disrupting the hospitality industry. The latest player to enter the game is a Japanese startup named Hyakusenrenma, which recently secured $13 million to help fund its vacation rental services.

Under the company’s umbrella are subsidiaries Stay Japan and Tomarina, both of which offer alternatives to expensive hotel rooms in the country. Stay Japan promises travelers that they’ll receive a more authentic Japanese experience by staying in the homes of actual citizens and experiencing their design aesthetic and lifestyle firsthand, and with rates starting at less than $20 per person, it’s certainly a cost-effective option for travelers.

Tomarina, on the other hand, focuses on the Japanese “countryside,” with hosts who offer their homes to weary urbanites looking for some R&R. “Solving the problem of the lacking lodging opportunities in Japan, Tomarina makes it possible for hosts to list their free space,” its website reads. “Rather then building new complexes, we want to make use of the free rooms local people can give to travelers and create a new and surely sought way of lodging.”

The current problem with these services and others run by Hyakusenrenma seems contingent upon a language barrier; it’s still difficult for foreign travelers to communicate with local hosts without a common tongue. But Hyakusenrenma says that it will use its newly raised capital to create a multilingual environment that allows for more seamless transactions.

While Japan’s own population may not be growing at a rapid pace, tourism remains a huge part of the country’s economy, presenting a problem for the already space-poor nation. And as more and more travelers seek to discover the beauty of the island nation, which will also be home to the 2020 Olympics, finding space to stay is going to be a major challenge. Hopefully, services like those provided by Hyakusenrenma will soon come in handy.

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