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This Hotel in Japan Costs Just $1 Per Night – But They Livestream Your Stay

For $1 only, you can rest in this traditional Japanese hotel. The catch? You’ll have to livestream your entire stay!

A picture of the Asahi Ryokan's minimalist exterior in Fukuoka.
Credit: Asahi Ryokan

Located in Fukuoka, Japan, the Asahi Ryokan is a traditional guesthouse that has recently gained traction for its unorthodox marketing method: guests can stay in its rooms for $1 a night if they consent to be live-streamed for their entire stay. This footage is then played on “One Dollar Hotel,” the owner’s YouTube channel.

The owner, 27-year-old Tetsuya Inoue, inherited the ryokan from his grandmother. Upon seeing that the state of the property was old and decreasing in value, he sought a fresh business model for the residence. “Our hotel is on the cheaper side, so we need some added value, something special that everyone will talk about,” he explained.

Transforming the Ryokan

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese guesthouse built for the sole purpose of relaxation. Given its minimalist design and nature-centered architecture, this type of hotel is usually quite popular among elderly people. Yet, Inoue’s innovative scheme is rapidly changing the narrative.

Stay in room number 8 at the Asahi Ryokan for a mere ¥100 (approximately $1)!
Stay in room number 8 at the Asahi Ryokan for a mere ¥100 (approximately $1)! Credit: Asahi Ryokan

From Views to Revenue

When faced with queries on the financial loss incurred from the cheap cost of the rooms, Inoue believes that in the long run, his YouTube channel, “One Dollar Hotel,” will be monetized and used to run ads, ultimately generating a profit that will make up for the $1 rooms. As of now, the channel has already garnered over 1,000 subscribers.

While the idea may seem bizarre, at least four adventurous guests have embraced the offer since its launch several months back. Another incentive to stay in the Asahi Ryokan is that conversations and phone calls remain private as the live stream contains purely video and does not intercept sound. Furthermore, lights can be turned off at will, and no filming occurs in the bathroom.

To keep the streams safe and friendly for both the guests and the viewers, Inoue has established some ground rules. These include warnings against performing lewd acts on camera and showing private information on video.

Rules concerning how to behave on the livestream.
Rules concerning how to behave on the live stream. Credit: Asahi Ryokan

On days when the rooms are unoccupied or no one is being filmed, Inoue entertains viewers with livestreams of himself working in the Ryokan’s office. To cater to an international audience, he even leaves signs in Japanese and English in front of the camera to let viewers know when he’s out of the room in these livestreams.

Privacy and Adventure

The proposition proves enticing to young people, who do not possess any privacy concerns and are simply looking for a cheap place to stay during their travels. Inoue remarked, “Young people nowadays don’t care much about privacy.”

However, if privacy is indeed a concern for guests, the Asahi Ryokan offers “normal” hotel rooms for $27 a night. This cost, coupled with that of the other activities in Fukuoka tourists often like to partake in, is worth the safety and security achieved in one’s room, according to some guests.

Catch hotel owner Tetsuya Inoue live on the feed when rooms are unoccupied.
Catch hotel owner Tetsuya Inoue live on the feed when rooms are unoccupied. Credit: YouTube/Asahi Ryokan

Besides its interesting hotels, however, Fukuoka also has other things to offer. As one of CNN Travel’s “must-visit destinations,” its clean and fresh seafood, Ichiran pork tonkatsu ramen and art museum, which reopened in early 2019 following three years of renovations, are among some of the recommended sights to visit.

With privacy being one of our biggest issues of concern in recent years, Inoue’s tempting incentives to forsake our need for secure spaces have become an interesting dilemma. Whether or not his scheme will continue to succeed remains up to Inoue’s entrepreneurial spirit and the adventurous young people who stop by.

Written By

English student at University College London (UCL).

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sam

    January 3, 2024 at 3:49 am

    This article is very useful to consider my stay in Japan!!

    • Hermione Chan

      January 9, 2024 at 11:37 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed my writing!

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