A True Tourist Trap: This Hotel in Japan Doesn’t Exist

A true tourist trap? Japanese customers who used Booking.com had their vacations ruined recently thanks to a hotel that someone made up.

Unseen Japan
3 min readSep 16


By Jay Allen

Scam hotel on Booking.com story

People perhaps overuse the phrase “tourist trap.” But for some domestic tourists in Japan, a hotel listing on a popular booking Web site was indeed a trap — one that cost them money and, in some cases, ruined their vacations.

The hotel that wasn’t there

Ichinomiya, Chiba Prefecture
The waves of Ichinomiya, Chiba Prefecture. (Picture: sorakara / PIXTA(ピクスタ))

FNN Prime Online in Japan relates the story of a 19-year-old man who found a promising-looking hotel via the Website Booking.com for his trip to Chiba Prefecture. The listing said the hotel had just opened this summer. It contained convincing-looking photos of a terrace with BBQs, as well as interior pictures of the rooms.

So the young man headed out for what he assumed would be a pleasant outing in the town of Ichinomiya. Ichinomiya bills itself as a seaside town, with much of its tourist advertising oriented towards surfers or people who want to learn surfing.

Alas, whatever plans the 19-year-old had wouldn’t work out. Because when he got to his hotel, there was nothing but an empty grass lot.

At first, the would-be guest thought he’d just gone to the wrong location. “I didn’t want to accept reality,” he admits. And to be honest, there were warning signs. The entry was written in odd Japanese and there was no phone number listed.

“We’ve seen a lot of people wandering around”

There are plenty of hotels in Chiba Prefecture. This story is not about any of them. (Picture: よっちゃん必撮仕事人 / PIXTA(ピクスタ))

To their credit, Booking.com gave the man back the money he’d spent on his reservation — around 33,000 yen ($224). But he says his vacation was ruined. And he was also out the money he’d spent on a car rental.



Unseen Japan