Where to nap in Japan
Unlike most countries I’ve visited, booking ahead is a must while traveling in Japan. Especially if your planning your visit during the Spring. We’ve met several fellow-travelers being stuck in a city a little longer, because they couldn’t find accommodation for their next destination, or moving hostels because the place where they stayed couldn’t provide lodging for the next night. Also, many of the tips we’ve got from friends, were already fully booked months ahead for the 3 weeks we would spend in Japan.
Japan is known to be expensive. Although it is possible to live low-key, in general life isn’t cheap indeed. We decided to go for a mix in accommodation. Definitely visiting some traditional Ryokans, but also Hostels (dorms that slept up to 30 people) and 4-star hotels. I challenged myself to compose a nice mix and to stay under €1.000 pp for the trip.
If you are, like us, flying in and out from Tokyo and travelling in a circle, I can highly recommend staying in 2 different areas of town. The city is so big and it’s convenient to visit all different parts of town like this. We choose to start with a few nights in Roppongi and to end at Korakuen (close to Akihabara).
Note that all prices are paid in JPY en that the prices in euro are according to the exchange rate at that time and only an indication.
Tokyo Roppongi Hotel S (****)¥28.000/room/night (€210,41)
Very nice boutique hotel located within walking distance of public transport and the lively nightlife. Friendly staff, very comprehensive on our situation (they cancelled our first night without any extra charges), attentive (offering a bottle of bubbles and a little note for the BF’s birthday).
Kyoto Piece Hostel (mixed dorm – 18 beds) ¥2.900/bed/night (€21,79) including breakfast
A hostel as hostels should be! Located very close to public transport. Very clean, great facilities, huge bunk beds (we actually used the upper bed for our luggage and both slept on the lower bed), friendly, informative,… You can choose your type of pillow (and take more than one). At the time of booking (months before visiting) all private rooms were sold out, but even if you’re not a hostel lover, this one is definitely worth checking out!
Shimane Terazuya Ryokan (traditional Japanese tatami room – shared bathroom)¥9.795,85/room/night (€73,24) including breakfast
Shimane / Matsue is off the beaten track and chances are slim that you will be visiting this lakeside town. If you do, this Ryokan is a decent choice to stay, with very friendly staff (although we didn’t understand a word they said and vice versa).
Miyajima Hostel & Café Backpackers (at ferry terminal on the mainland – mixed dorm – 30 beds)¥2.900/bed/night (€21,79)
Though recommended to us, this was not my favourite hostel. The atmosphere and location are good (and that’s probably why our solo-traveling friend highly recommended it), but the critic in me wants to warn you for the dorms. Sleeping on the upper bunk, you’ll still have a lot of light at night and the dorms are extra noisy because of the use of metal lockers. The quality of the beds themselves wasn’t that great either. The hostel isn’t on the island itself, but is very close to the ferry that runs on a very regular basis and very close to the tram to Hiroshima (perfect for a day trip) and the JR station.
Osaka Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Premier (****) ¥23.000 and 24.000/room/night (€172,83 / 180,35)
Very nice hotel, great Spa (with outdoor hot tub) on the top floor. Free shuttle to and from the JR Station every 20 min. My kind of luxury. We stayed here twice, leaving our luggage while hiking the Kumano Kodo trail.
Minshuku Chikatsuyu (traditional Japanese tatami room – shared onsen and bathroom) ¥20.600/room/night (€154,80) including large dinner, breakfast and lunchbox
The best night of sleep I’ve ever had during a hike. Great location, near the river (with onsen looking down on this river), we had a room with garden view (with sakura trees), and the best food! Make sure to arrive before 6PM, so try not to dawdle.
Hongu Blue Sky Guesthouse (traditional Japanese tatami room – private bathroom) ¥12.000/room/night (€90,17) including breakfast
Clean, friendly, nice rooms, perfect after a long day of hiking (although dinner facilities are very slim in the area).
Shirahama Hotel Sanrakuso (*** – Japanese tatami room – private bathroom) ¥16.000/room/night (€120,23) including breakfast
Faded glory. The beautiful white sand beach should be extremely crowded in Summer time, but when we were visiting Shirahama was more like a ghost town. I would definitely not recommend the hotel (nor the destination), but we did have some nice memories staying here, eating whale at the little restaurant in front of the hotel.
Tokyo Hotel Niwa (****) ¥24.946,67/room/night (€187,46)
Nice hotel, located close to public transport (unlike at Roppongi, we didn’t spend any time in the area around the hotel itself, but it was a very nice base camp). On the 3rd floor, you’ll find 3 massage chairs!