Want to visit Tokyo but worried about check-in age limits for hotels? This guide covers everything travelers under 18 need to know to book accommodations in Tokyo.
Background on Japan’s Age of Majority Laws
Japan’s age of majority is 20 years old. This means people under 20 are considered minors and have restrictions around legal contracts, alcohol, tobacco, and more. However, in April 2022, the age of adulthood was lowered from 20 to 18 for many purposes, except drinking/smoking which remains 20. So travelers who are 18+ have fewer restrictions but still cannot legally drink or smoke.
Hotels Have Varying Policies – Some Allow Minors, Some Don’t
Hotels in Tokyo have varying policies around the minimum check-in age. Many require guests to be 18+, while others allow younger travelers if accompanied by someone 18+. Youth hostels and dorm-style accommodations also tend to have an 18+ policy. Here are some common hotel policies:
- Business hotels, chains: Require at least one guest to be 18+
- Capsule hotels, hostels, dorms: Typically 18+ only
- Love hotels: Usually 20+ only due to alcohol access
- Ryokans: Vary, but likely maintain pre-2022 policies
- AirBnBs: May reduce from 20 to 18 after legal change
Confirm Policies Before Booking
Because policies vary, it’s essential to confirm the check-in age policy with any hotel you want to book before traveling to Tokyo under 18. Here are some tips:
- Email the hotel ahead of time explaining your situation and asking about age policies.
- Book the room with a parent/guardian and have them email confirming they booked it for you.
- Consider using a travel agency who can book for you and mediate any issues.
Booking through sites like AirBnB where the minimum age is 18 can also work if you’ll be traveling after the age of majority change.
Be Prepared to Show ID and Parental Consent
In addition to minimum check-in age policies, Japanese hotels are required to scan passports of all foreign guests. So even if you book through a parent/guardian, be ready to show your passport proving you’re under 18.
Bringing a notarized letter from parents confirming consent to travel without them is highly recommended. This prevents issues if questioned by authorities during your stay.
Senpai Learned the Hard Way
One Redditor shared a cautionary tale from his “senpai” (respected upperclassman) in university. The senpai visited a hotel with his girlfriend who was 19 at the time. He was arrested at check-in when they realized he was underage and lacked documented parental consent.
While the charges were eventually dropped, it ruined his trip and nearly his career. He warns travelers under 18 to take parental consent letters seriously, even if you don’t expect issues. Being unable to prove consent can have major consequences.
The Safest Option is Waiting Until 18
Given restrictions around contracts, policies, ID checks, and parental consent, the simplest option is to wait until age 18 to visit Tokyo. Even a few months’ difference crosses the age of majority line and removes most barriers.
If you must visit before 18, book early and be upfront with hotels about your age. Come prepared with parental letters, copies of ID/passport, and confirmation that an adult booked for you. Limit accommodations like capsule hotels that ban under 18s. With planning, underage travel in Tokyo is possible, but requires extra effort and precautions.
The Bottom Line
Tokyo hotel policies vary, so travelers under 18 must research and confirm check-in age rules before booking. Having parental consent letters and ID proving your age is essential. While visiting before 18 is possible, it involves more logistical challenges. Waiting until 18 ultimately simplifies the accommodation process. With the right preparation, travelers under 18 can still visit Tokyo safely and legally.