When I went to Japan last year, it was by stroke of luck that I got tickets from Data Tony himself on twitter. Happy with such a windfall, the worry of footing my own expenses and accommodation didn’t really hit me til I started researching online.
A standard hotel room in Tokyo is between RM800 – RM1500 and that was for mid range hotels during the month of October. Now (January) that it’s winter a quick check on Agoda showed the range of RM500 and above, also mid range and not exactly in the city.
Thankfully for Tokyo and Osaka, the railway transportation is fabulous and most of the heartache of traveling was taken care of. OR so I thought. Now other than crazy accommodation rates, transportation in Japan is not cheap either, no thanks to our weak Ringgit Malaysia.
Since I was traveling alone, and took a rather ambitious extension of holiday of almost 12 days (hey, it’s not everyday that you get free tickets so one has got to make the most use of it right?), my head reeled in shock of the potential damage in ringgit if I were to stay in a hotel.
After much complaining and worrying, a few kind souls told me of the option of staying in hostels. Ah, I have done that before in Singapore. Why didn’t I think of that?
So it was back to online research, and since I have never been to Japan and everyone I asked haven’t actually stayed in a hostel, I relied heavily on tripadvisor reviews as I seek my best options. The unfamiliar names of the areas of where these hostel are located didn’t help, but a kind friend Chong in Japan gave some general guidelines.
The only hostel I booked while as I was still in KL was for ONE night at Asakusa, barely 12 hours before my flight. Asakusa was also because most of the online search results turned up hostels that were in that area. The price was alright, 2940 Yen a night (RM120 nett – 1000 Yen = RM40) , dorm sharing and it was pretty near a train station.
I only booked one night as I wasn’t sure how good/bad it might be, and I was thinking that I might seek another hostel once I’m there.
I landed at Haneda airport in Tokyo at about 10.30pm. The first night in Japan was at the airport, warm and safe within the clean airport building. You can see the pictures HERE.
Once the train service started, I grabbed the first train out towards Asakusa. Grab a copy of the train map and get your directions from the airport info counter. Everyone speaks English so make full use of it as that might not be the case once you’re in the city. Long story short, though I had some difficulties locating the hostel, I was relieved to finally be standing in from of it.
First impressions was good! Bright and clean plus a very friendly staff who handled my check-in efficiently and even gave me my room key immediately since the bed is empty anyhow. So even though check-in is at 2pm, I got to lie down and rest by 9am +.
Access to the dorm was via a key card and you’re handed your clean bedsheets at the same time.
Downstairs consists of the kitchen, laundry room, the reception, the common area, dining, pantry, information corner and everything else except the dorms/accommodation area.
The few levels above are the rooms; which are divided into single/double rooms or dorm sharing.
Good news is, there’s a lift.
And stairs too if you’re feeling fit.
Keycard slotted in, and open sesame!
Not bad! Almost utilitarian, clean and bright.
The beds are not assigned, so just grab whichever that’s empty – ie no bedsheets.
I’m pretty happy with such a nice thick blanket. Here’s my bed after the bedsheets. And yes, I’m too lazy to tuck in the bedsheets under the mattress. 😛
At one corner is the lockers for valuables.
I propped up my feet, lie down on the bed and looked up.
Ok, that’s the ceiling.
I checked out the wash area next. Similarly to the hostels in Singapore, shared bathrooms are the norm for dorms.
A long wash area ensures there’s enough space for its guests. There were 2 shower rooms and 1 toilet only though.
Japan. You got to love their cleanliness.
Hot water. Good pressure. Free body wash. Towel rail. I’m a satisfied guest!
I forgot to take a picture of this particular toilet but I assure you the famous automated Japanese toilets are used everywhere, even in hostels and restaurants.
I don’t camwhore in Malaysian washrooms, just Japan’s. LOL.
Just kidding, I was just trying to show that I was here!
Power socket for hairdryers, shavers etc. None provided though.
Done with the upper floor exploration, I headed downstairs again.
It is really comfortable to lounge around downstairs in the common area. The internet can be wonky at times but it works. Anyhow I have my portable modem (details HERE) so I wasn’t worried.
At one far end, there’s a TV with VCDs provided for your entertainment!
Because the common area was so spacious, there’s space for everyone, even during peak hours like breakfast. The high ceilings and bright lights ensured airiness and kept the whole place well illuminated. I love sunshine so this was perfect for me!
All the PCs worked well, but do note that their keyboards are in Japanese characters.
There are plenty of powerpoints (both on the wall and extensions) so no worries at all if you need to use/charge your own gadgets. This is something very important to me as I drain the battery of my smartphone, ultrabook, camera and external battery pack pretty quickly. Powerpoints in the dorm are limited but there’s one near every bed.
All guests are allowed to buy and store their own food in the communal fridge. Just be sure to label your name, date of check-out on each item.
The kitchen area is well equipped with cooking utensils too so many guests are seen frying eggs, toasting bread or generally whipping something up during breakfast. And everyone washes up after themselves, no prompting required. I guess it’s the mentality of those who are staying here. It’s plain common courtesy, regardless of nationality. I met Koreans, Thais, Australians, Indonesians, people from the States and everyone is so gracious and polite. We know that we are on budget, we are sharing common facilities so everyone keep things clean and in good condition for everybody else.
The Japanese are big on recycling. Even in hostels there are colour coded bins for separation of rubbish.
For those who pays for breakfast, coffee, tea, breads and spreads are displayed here every morning.
There’s a drinks dispenser as well so beers (yes BEERS), fruit juices, iced teas etc are at your disposal should you fancy something other than coffee and tea.
Here (in the background) are where the coin operated washing machines are located.
If you’re ever in need of more information about Japan and its surrounding areas, the mini information corner is fabulously handy. There’s a printout of almost anything a traveler in Japan may need; from train stations guides to maps and information brochures and tour details are surprisingly enough, available in many languages!
This was superbly helpful!
Books and comics for some leisure reading are great for those who stayed in on rest days.
Outside, a row of bicycles are available for rent. It is safe and pretty common to see people cycling in Japan so don’t be shy if you’re up for some cycling adventure.
On the right of the front of the hostel (as you can see below) is an area to sit and enjoy the cool crispy air while basking in the warm sunshine at the same time, exactly my kind of place! 😀
I love this place! I was lucky that my first hostel was so pleasant and it certainly gave me a good beginning to my trip. I will be posting up on the other 4 hostels but this one was one of the best ones that I stayed in throughout my trip. Anyhow, do stay tuned for the rest of the reviews! 🙂
Here’s the contact and address of Sakura Hostel @ Asakusa. I do highly recommend this hostel!
NOTE: I paid in advance for the first night upon arrival and subsequent extensions were all paid in full upon checl-out.
You can find them on twitter or Facebook too.
Sakura is a chain of accommodation all over Japan so perhaps that’s why they are so systematic and reliable. Do check them out as they do provide long term stay units as well as single and double rooms such like any other hotels.
Last but not least, checking out.
Thank you Sakura Hostel @ Asakusa, Japan for such a pleasant stay! :DD
For more travel adventures: http://www.rebeccasaw.com/travel/
- JAPAN 2012: Day1 – Exploring Asukusa: Tsukiji : Omote- Sando: Harajuku: Shinjuku
- JAPAN 2012: Day 2– Exploring Japan Day 2: Asakusa – Sensoji Temple : Ueno Station : Tokyo Station: Akihabara : Ichiran Ramen
- JAPAN 2012: Day 2 – Pastries and cakes at Tokyo Station!
- JAPAN 2012: Day 3 – Odaiba – Ramen City
- JAPAN 2012: Day 3 – Odaiba -Statue of Liberty, Fiji Television, Gundam & The Rainbow Bridge
- JAPAN 2012: Day 4 – Tuna Auction at the Tsukiji Market
- JAPAN 2012: Sushi Dai – 3 hours queue for the best sushi & sashimi!
- JAPAN 2012: Getting data in Japan – there’s no prepaid SIM available for tourist so…. READ ON!
- JAPAN 2012: AirAsia X Premium FlatBed, arrival at Haneda & bunking at the airport
- JAPAN 2012: One of the best Ramen – Ichiran Ramen
- JAPAN 2012: OSAKA – McDonalds Breakfast of Pork Sausage, Egg and Cheese McGriddles at Kansai Airport
- JAPAN 2012 : OSAKA – Kobe steak lunch at Steakland Kobe Osaka
- JAPAN 2012: : OSAKA – My first FUGU (Poisonous Blowfish) meal and I survived!
- JAPAN 2012: : HOSTEL IN TOKYO – Sakura Hostel, Asakusa
- JAPAN 2012: : HOSTEL IN TOKYO – Khaosan Tokyo Original, Asakusa Japan
- JAPAN 2012: : HOSTEL IN OSAKA – J-Hoppers Hostel @ Fukushima
Here’s the Tokyo rail map – an absolute essential.