The Japanese term minpaku (private lodging) refers to the practice of letting travelers stay in one’s home for a short period of time. The practice itself has been in existence for a long time. However, minpaku expanded as a business only after matching services became widely available over the Internet. Until then, promoting minpaku was difficult since the cost of advertising far exceeded any profit that could be earned. Matching services, as represented by Airbnb, were the game changers. Minpaku is now widely practiced all over the world.
Minpaku accommodations, in many cases, have a family-type atmosphere since they are small operations. They attract travelers seeking to experience unpretentious vacations or spend their holidays at tourist destinations as though they were living in their homes. In areas where there are not enough conventional lodging facilities, minpaku plays an important role of complementing hotels and inns. However, there are minpaku services that operate illegally and are known as yami minpaku (yami means “dark” in Japanese). It has also been pointed out that many tourists are flocking to quiet residential areas because of minpaku, often creating trouble with local residents and raising concerns about property maintenance. Thus, the phenomenon has developed into a major social issue.
Minpaku has become widely available throughout Japan, but there were no laws regulating the practice until 2018. A new law, Private Lodging Business Act, was passed in 2018 and came into force in 2019. Prior to the establishment of the law, the only legally recognized minpaku facilities were those classified as “common lodging houses” under the Hotel Business Act, although there were some exceptions in the case of “special administrative districts.” The Hotel Business Act, created before minpaku became common, was not intended for minpaku as it exists today. For this reason, not all minpaku facilities could be classified as common lodging houses as defined by this law. Minpaku uses private houses, but common lodging houses cannot be established in residential areas with restrictions on land use. Thus, the new law was created to legally define minpaku facilities that could also be regarded as homes. Therefore, to prevent problems such as those mentioned earlier, the new law requires that minpaku operators, managers, and brokers be registered, and their responsibilities clarified, so that the business can be operated appropriately.
This book summarizes the discussions regarding minpaku from a variety of angles, such as how minpaku acquired its significance and transformed itself when it was given a legal status. The discussions also include potential legal problems associated with minpaku, the impact that minpaku may have on the neighborhood, the role of minpaku in regional vitalization, and minpaku as a tourist attraction.
The book deals with wide-ranging issues, such as the history of minpaku, minpaku’s place in society, measures implemented to avoid trouble with neighbors, and the future growth potential for minpaku. This work could be used not only in the studies of minpaku but also for policy decisions and discussions regarding its actual operations.
(Written by ASAMI Yasushi, Professor of School of Engineering / 2019)
ITAGAKI Katsuhiko “Book review: Yasushi Asami & Kimihiro Hino (eds.) ‘Reflection on real estate tech’” (“Urban Housing Sciences” Issue 102, p.146 2018)