Minpaku Law Japan Explained: Ryokan Business Law or New Minpaku Regulations

Beginner's Guide to Japanese Ryokan Laws

Are you wondering which rules to follow for your minpaku operation - the Ryokan Business Law or the New Minpaku Law? This article delves into which law applies to your planned minpaku, with an easy-to-understand deep dive into the Ryokan Business Law!

Both the Ryokan Business Law and the New Minpaku Law vary depending on the services and facilities you offer.

What You'll Learn in This Article▼

The specifics of the Ryokan Business Law and the New Minpaku Law

The type of laws you must comply with in minpaku operations

Penalties for non-compliance and strategies to avoid them

Author:Airhost Digital Marketing Team

It Depends on the Location, Facility, and Service of Your Minpaku

It Depends on the Location, Facility, and Service of Your Minpaku

When starting a minpaku (private lodging), the choice between the Ryokan Business Law and the New Minpaku Law depends on its location and the purpose of operation.

Ryokan Business Law

New Minpaku Law

Strictness of Rules

More rules and stricter. Ensures safety and cleanliness.

Fewer rules, more flexible. Easier to start for short-term rentals.

Guest's Sense of Security

High trustworthy.


Operational Locations

Limited areas (commercial, quasi-commercial, semi-industrial, unspecified zones).

Wider range (including residential areas).

Operating under the Ryokan Business Law categorizes your minpaku as a "ryokan, hotel, or simple lodging," while following the New Minpaku Law categorizes it as "minpaku (renting out private residences)."

Both laws have standards for safety, hygiene, and consideration for neighbors, and require proper authorization for operation.

Main Content and Differences Between the Ryokan Business Law and the New Minpaku Law

Ryokan Business Law

This law establishes rules for accommodation facilities like hotels and ryokans.

It sets very strict standards to ensure guests stay in a safe and clean environment.

For example, facilities similar to a hotel front desk and emergency evacuation equipment for quick escape in case of fire are required. Also, the location of these hotels is restricted to specific areas, such as those with shops or factories.

New Minpaku Law

This is a new law established in 2018, designed to simplify the process of renting out ordinary homes to travelers for short periods.

When homeowners rent out their homes as "minpaku," they don't need to meet as strict standards as the Ryokan Business Law.

For instance, it's okay not to have a front desk, and the evacuation equipment can be more basic. The location is also more flexible, allowing operation in residential areas.

However, there is a "180-day rule," meaning you can only operate for 180 days in a year. For the remaining 185 days, you can consider operating as a monthly or weekly rental.

Determining the Best Law for Your Minpaku: Ryokan Business Law or New Minpaku Law

First, check the zoning area of the property you plan to use for your minpaku (more on zoning areas later).

If the zoning area is suitable for both the Ryokan Business Law and the New Minpaku Law, your choice will depend on several factors:

  1. How much profit you aim to make (remember, the New Minpaku Law limits operation to 180 days per year).

  2. How often you plan to use the property yourself (e.g., as a vacation home).

  3. Your preference for avoiding complicated procedures and desire for a quick start.

Based on these priorities, you'll choose between the New Minpaku Law and the Ryokan Business Law.

Which Law?

Focus on Profit

Suitability for Business

Barrier to Operation

Ryokan Business Law


Ideal for year-round, continuous business


New Minpaku Law


Suitable if you're okay with half-year revenue and using it as a personal vacation home for the rest


For a local, community-focused minpaku, choose the New Minpaku Law. It's great for a genuine local experience.

If you're in a business district, industrial area, or resort, the Ryokan Business Law is better. It's stricter but ensures safety and cleanliness.

For trendy urban apartments, the New Minpaku Law is ideal. It's simple and suits a modern city vibe.

For luxurious villas in resorts with year-round rental, go with the Ryokan Business Law. It's perfect for continuous, upscale operations

Related Articles

What is a Special Zone Minpaku? Who is it Best Suited For? (Coming Soon)

Remember the 180-Day Rule When Operating a Minpaku in Japan(Coming Soon)

Rules for Operating a Minpaku under the Ryokan Business Law in Japan

Rules for Operating a Minpaku under the Ryokan Business Law in Japan

When operating a minpaku (Japanese-style lodging) under the Ryokan Business Law, it's crucial to understand the following key points:

  • Zoning regulations

  • Building usage

  • Fire safety equipment

  • Front desk and other facility requirements

  • Permit acquisition process and procedures

Let's delve into these in detail.

Zoning Regulations

Zoning regulations determine what types of buildings and activities are allowed in a specific area. In "Residential Zones," which are typically quiet residential areas, operating under the Ryokan Business Law can be challenging.

However, in "Mixed Residential Zones" (areas with small-scale shops and offices besides residences) and commercial areas with many shops and businesses, it's feasible to establish accommodations in accordance with the Ryokan Business Law.

Under the New Minpaku Law, you can operate in almost any zone except industrial areas. But remember, some locations may require special permissions, so always check with your local municipality before starting.

Here's a quick reference chart for zoning regulations.

Zoning Area Name

Ryokan Business Law (Simple Lodging Minpaku)

New Minpaku Law

Area Characteristics

Category I Low-Rise Residential Area


Dominated by single-family homes, quiet living environment

Category II Low-Rise Residential Area


Predominantly low-rise housing, allows medium-sized shops and schools

Category I Medium and High-Rise Residential Area


Centered around medium and high-rise housing, permits certain commercial facilities

Category II Medium and High-Rise Residential Area


Mix of medium and high-rise housing, large commercial and public facilities allowed

Industrial Area


Focused on factories, housing and commercial facilities allowed but lodging generally not

Exclusive Industrial Area



Dedicated to factories, construction of housing, commercial, and lodging facilities not permitted

Rural Residential Area


Housing with the possibility of agriculture

Category I Residential Area (up to 3000㎡)

Allows construction of certain commercial facilities and hotels

Category II Residential Area

Diverse commercial facilities and lodging can be built

Semi-Residential Area

Coexistence of automotive facilities and housing, lodging construction allowed

Neighborhood Commercial Area

Daily shopping area, allows housing, commercial facilities, and small factories

Commercial Area

Concentration of banks, cinemas, restaurants, lodging construction allowed

Quasi-Industrial Area

Light industry and service facilities, construction of many facilities allowed

Reference Page: Land Use Planning | Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (Japanese)

To check which zoning area applies to your minpaku location, you can also refer as following;

Reference Site: Land Use Area Map | MapExpert (Japanese)

Attention for Establishing Lodging Facilities

When planning to establish a lodging facility, it's crucial to consider its proximity to schools and child welfare facilities.

If your property is located within approximately 100 meters of such institutions, there's a possibility that permission to operate may be denied due to potential environmental disturbances.

However, installing facilities that obstruct the view might increase the chances of obtaining permission. Since regulations vary by region, it's essential to confirm with the local municipality where the property is located.

Reference Page: Summary of Local Government Ordinances on Minpaku Operational Restrictions | Japan Tourism Agency, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (Japanese)


In some tourist areas, it's possible to operate minpaku under the Ryokan Business Law. For example, in the area around Lake Kawaguchi, there are extensive "Residential Areas" where permission under the Ryokan Business Law can be obtained.

Reference Page: Comprehensive Urban Planning Map | Fujikawaguchiko Town, Yamanashi Prefecture | Super Check Sheet

In contrast, in Exclusive Residential Areas (where the Ryokan Business Law is not applicable, but the New Minpaku Law is), such zoning is not as widespread. This indicates that the area planning takes into consideration not only housing but also the use of properties as lodging facilities.

Reference Site: Super Check Sheet | Revised in Reiwa Era (Japanese)

Constructioon Purpose: Ryokan or Hotel

When operating a minpaku under the Ryokan Business Law in Japan, the property must be classified as a "ryokan (Japanese inn) or hotel" according to the Building Standards Law.

However, if the property is less than 200 square meters, you may be able to start operating without going through complex procedures.

(Though, you must follow the zoning rules of the area where the property is located. This means ensuring that the property's use as a ryokan or hotel is permissible within the designated land use category of that area.)

Fire Safety Equipment

When operating a minpaku as a ryokan or hotel under Japan's Ryokan Business Law, the following fire safety equipment rules apply:

Equipment Requirement

Necessary Condition


Fire Extinguishers

Total floor area over 150m²

For initial firefighting during a fire

Indoor Fire Hydrants

Total floor area over 700m²

To support firefighting activities inside the building

Automatic Fire Alarm System

Most facilities

Automatically detects fires and triggers alarms

Earth Leakage Fire Alarm

Total floor area over 150m²

Detects electrical leaks that could cause fires

Emergency Alarm Equipment or System

Capacity for 20 or more guest

For issuing alarms in emergencies

Evacuation Equipment

On floors above the second level or basement with a capacity of 30 or more

To aid in emergency evacuations

Guide Lights and Signs

All facilities

To indicate evacuation routes and exits

Additional points to consider when operating a ryokan or hotel:

  • A "Fire Service Act Compliance Notification" is required to prove the building meets fire safety standards.

  • New constructions are usually designed by architects to comply with fire safety requirements.

  • Existing buildings repurposed for ryokan use may need renovations to meet legal requirements.

  • Always confirm the building's compliance with fire safety laws before signing any contracts.

For minpaku operations under the New Minpaku Law, the rules are as follows:



Under 50㎡

Over 50㎡


Automatic Fire Alarm

Guest rooms (bedrooms)

In host-present minpaku, if the guest bedroom is under 50m², standard residential rules apply. Only a fire alarm in the bedroom is required.

Fire Extinguisher

Total floor area of minpaku

Even in basements, windowless floors, or floors above the third level with an area over 50m², a fire extinguisher is required.

Evacuation Route

Floor area of guest rooms (bedrooms)

Over 50m², an evacuation route must be established.

Fire Safety Equipment Inspection

Firefighting facilities

Annual inspection and maintenance are required.

For minpaku without the host present, the same fire safety measures as ryokan or hotels are necessary.

Related Articles

Rules of Fire Safety in Minpaku Operations: Explained by a Minpaku Pro (Coming Soon)

Installation of Facilities such as Front Desk

Traditionally, hotels and ryokans required a front desk for guest check-ins. However, a legal amendment in 2018 exempted small-scale lodging facilities from the obligation to have a front desk.

Innovative services utilizing smart check-in systems, AI facial recognition, video chat, and smart lock integration have emerged, enhancing guest convenience while addressing the issue of staff shortages for operators.

A leading example is "AirHost ONE" provided by AirHost.

By implementing "AirHost ONE," lodging facilities can offer guests a smooth check-in experience, address staffing issues, reduce operational costs, and improve service quality.

Explore more about here ▶ AirHost ONE

Licensed Minpaku Operation and Risks

Licensed Minpaku Operation and Risks

Operating a licensed minpaku involves responsibility and risks. Let's delve into the legal environment and the necessary knowledge to avoid penalties.

Penalties for Operating Without a License

Operating a minpaku without a license can lead to hefty fines and legal troubles. The violations and penalties under the Ryokan Business Law are summarized in the table below:

Type of Violation



Article in the Inn

Unauthorized Operation

Operating an inn or hotel business without a permit

Imprisonment for up to 6 months or a fine of up to 1 million yen, or both

Article 10, Paragraph 1 of the Inn Business Law

Violation of Orders (Cancellation of Permit, Suspension of Business)

Violating improvement orders or other dispositions under the Inn Business Law

Imprisonment for up to 6 months or a fine of up to 1 million yen, or both

Article 10, Paragraph 2 of the Inn Business Law

Violation of Business Obligations

Refusing accommodation, failure to maintain a guest register, etc.

Fine of up to 500,000 yen

Article 11, Paragraph 1 of the Inn Business Law

Obstruction of Inspection or Violation of Reporting Duties

False reporting, obstructing inspections, etc.

Fine of up to 500,000 yen

Article 11, Paragraph 2 of the Inn Business Law

Violation of Orders (Measures Necessary for Public Health or Good Morals)

Violating orders for operational improvement

Fine of up to 500,000 yen

Article 11, Paragraph 3 of the Inn Business Law

Dual Liability Provision

Legal entities or employers are also punishable for violations

Same amount of fine as the perpetrator

Article 13 of the Inn Business Law

Understanding these legal aspects is crucial for anyone considering entering the minpaku business to ensure compliance and avoid legal issues.

Source page:Business Operations 2" section of the Minpaku Private Lodging System Portal Site

To avoid penalties

To avoid penalties and comply with the law when operating a Minpaku (private lodging) in Japan, consider the following practical steps:

  1. Consult with Local Authorities: Before starting, consult with your local public health center or other relevant agencies. This is important as there may be region-specific rules.

  2. Submit Necessary Documents: Prepare and submit all required documents, such as proof of ownership, safety inspection reports, and insurance coverage.

  3. Accept Inspections: Accept inspections from local authorities to ensure that your property meets health and safety standards.

  4. Consider Professional Assistance: If managing the process is challenging, consider hiring a professional, such as an administrative scrivener. Once you obtain a permit under the Ryokan Business Law, a "Ryokan Business (Operating) Permit" will be issued.

Benefits of Operating Under the Ryokan Business Law

Benefits of Operating Under the Ryokan Business Law

While the Ryokan Business Law has strict rules, there are numerous benefits to its operation:

  • No limit on the number of operating days.

  • Advantages in listing on Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).

  • Credibility and brand strength.

  • Easier collaboration and support from local communities, as well as national and municipal governments.

Let's see these points in detail.

No Limit on Operating Days

Being able to operate unrestricted throughout the year is a significant advantage. The absence of limits on operating days offers benefits such as:

  • Open 365 Days: Opportunities for income regardless of the season.

  • Increased Revenue: Full operation during both peak and off-peak seasons without restrictions.

  • Strategic Flexibility: Ability to adapt promotions, pricing, and events flexibly.

  • Customer Satisfaction: Being always open makes it easier to retain repeat customers.

  • Stable Management: Reliable business planning, unaffected by market fluctuations.

With the permission under the Ryokan Business Law, you can welcome guests at any time. Aim for maximum revenue throughout the year!

Advantages on OTA Platforms

Some OTAs may only allow listings for ryokan properties. Additionally, obtaining permission under the Ryokan Business Law offers the following advantages:

  • Expanded Target Audience: The more OTAs you can list on, the more travelers you can reach.

  • Increased Competitiveness: Limited OTA listings reduce competition and increase visibility.

By obtaining permission under the Ryokan Business Law, you can gain a competitive edge in the OTA market.

Related Articles

Don't Fail in Your Minpaku Business: Focus on Attracting Customers via OTAs (Coming Soon)

Recommended List of Minpaku Sites (OTAs) Every Minpaku Owner Should Check (Coming Soon)

Flexibility in Guest Capacity

Hotels and ryokans that comply with the Ryokan Business Law have the flexibility to accommodate as many guests as they have rooms. Additionally, they offer:

  • Ideal for Families and Groups: Provide a comfortable stay for large families or group travelers, making for a memorable experience.

  • Suitable for Events and Training Camps: Cater to the accommodation needs of large groups, such as sports teams or seminar attendees.

  • Increased Profitability: Welcoming more guests increases revenue opportunities and business expansion.

However, for minpaku that comply with the Ryokan Business Law and the new Minpaku Law, there is a rule requiring a minimum floor area of 3.3 square meters per person.

This floor area includes bedrooms, bathrooms, toilets, washrooms, living rooms, and other areas accessible to guests.

Moreover, when operating a minpaku that accommodates more than 10 guests at a time, it's necessary to check with the local health office in advance regarding the property's size, the number of toilets, and the number of bathrooms.

For example, in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, for a capacity of 10 people, it is required to have three toilets (separated for males and females).

Trust and Brand Strength

Obtaining a license under the Ryokan Business Law not only serves as a mark of quality but also helps in gaining the trust of domestic travelers. Additionally, it brings several benefits:

  • Enhanced Brand Value: The quality and reliability of the accommodation symbolize an increase in brand value.

  • A Key Reason for Selection: Many guests prioritize safety and trust. A Ryokan Business Law license becomes a significant reason for their choice.

  • Strengthened Word-of-Mouth: Positive reviews from satisfied guests can increase, attracting new guests and enhancing the establishment's reputation.

These are some of the advantages that can be gained by complying with the Ryokan Business Law.

Easier Collaboration and Support

Obtaining a license under the Ryokan Business Law also offers the following benefits:

  • Synergy with Local Communities: Smooth collaboration with local governments.

  • Access to Grants: Easier utilization of municipal grants and support programs, leading to more accessible financial assistance.

  • Business Stabilization: Receiving support from the local community strengthens the business foundation, enabling stable operations.

  • Contribution to the Local Economy: Cooperation with the community can contribute to the local economy, increasing the likelihood of building positive relationships.

Strengthening ties with local governments facilitates economic support, allowing for both business stability and contribution to the local community.


While the Ryokan Business Law has many rules, it also offers significant benefits in maximizing the advantages of your lodging facility.

However, to fully leverage these benefits and lead your guesthouse business to success, specialized support is essential.

AirHost can assist with operations compliant with both the Ryokan Business Law and the New Minpaku Law.

Especially for operations based on the New Minpaku Law, we provide dedicated OTA support like Rakuten Vacation Stay and convenient features to comply with the 180-day rule.

Utilizing AirHost could enable you to efficiently manage your lodging while complying with the law and expanding your guesthouse business.

Feel free to contact us as your first step in the guesthouse business.

I want to consult with AirHost

Let AirHost help your business grow.

Our experts are here to support your requests anytime.