Airbnb in Japan - is it legal?

Last update : Sep 2023


The new law in 2018 limiting the business days of private rentals had a major impact and the pandemic caused even greater damage.  This has resulted in fewer choices for a major city like Tokyo where the rent is very expensive.


In rural areas where running cost is not as big an issue, there might be a better selection.



We have been noticing that an increasing number of visitors are choosing Airbnb or other related services as their accommodation during their time in Japan.

In certain cities like Tokyo or Kyoto, the shortage of hotel rooms is serious. Also many hotels aren't exactly cost-effective considering the very small size of the rooms.


However visitors should understand that this business model is still in a  "grey zone", just like in many other regions.


There have been many cases reported where hosts are renting their rooms without proper license nor with the approval of the ownership. Particularly in apartments where there is strict security, some residents aren't happy with the fact strangers are wandering around even if they are not causing any trouble. Often times, hosts will ask a guest "to not discuss with neighbors that you booked through Airbnb" or be told altogether "not to communicate with other residents". In these cases, hosts may have to close down their rooms on sudden notice when the neighbors take the extra step of reporting the issue to management or police.


Also the language barrier might make it harder to react in case of a disaster or other unforeseen event. Usually the host is not on-site for 24 hours and not always available in case of an emergency.  


A new law that came into effect June 2018 that will clarify the rules regarding businesses such as Airbnb.


It will:

・Make it mandatory for hosts to register with the local government

・The rooms are fully insured 

・Will put a limit on operations to a max of  180 days per year. (Local governments will have the choice to put a more severe cap)

・Any offenders will be subject to six months of jail or up to 1 million JPY in fines


The "180 day rule" will make the business far less profitable and could drive some hosts to close their rooms.


The Japanese team of Airbnb has commented that it will make updates to their system so hosts that exceed the 180 day limit will be blocked from taking further reservations.