There are hundreds of pensions in Japan. Most are in resort areas and small towns. However, pensions are also found in large cities such as Kyoto. They're a great way to get to know the locals and other travelers.
Each Japanese pension is unique. Many are real gems.
Pension meals may be Western or Japanese style. Private in-room bathrooms are fairly rare but some pensions have them. Pensions may have onsen but this is also rare.
Some pensions target dog or cat lovers. They may allow you to bring your pet. Customers may also be attracted to the pension for a chance to hang out with the pension's pets.
Other pensions have hobby based themes such as jazz pensions that attract musicians. In many cases, the owners of pensions are wealthy individuals who look at their pension as a hobby (as much as a business).
Pensions range from inexpensive to mid-priced. They usually represent a real value as compared with hotels.