Saturday, July 11, 2009

Accomodation in Japan

Where do we stay when we are not camping? Well, first of all, luckily we are camping most of the time. But unfortunately it is not too convenient to camp in big cities, so we must get some other form of accomodation from time to time. And that can be tricky and/or expensive in Japan.

First surprise were youth hostels. For a single person staying in a dormitory they are not really cheap, but still affordable. For 2 people in a double room it is way too expensive. We had to stay in a youth hostel on our first night in Japan because everything else was fully booked and it was the most expensive accomodation we had in all Japan. There are some private hostels as well that are a little bit cheaper, but they only exist in the very touristy destinations.

Ticket restaurant
Much cheaper are the so called business hotels. We first ignored them thinking they would be too expensive, but we were totally wrong. Business hotels are usually clustered around a city's train station and they contain everything a business traveller needs - from free internet access to trouser press, but everything is squeezed into very tiny space. And in my favourite hotel chain Toyoku Inn (I became a member to get a 30% discount on Sundays) you even get a free breakfast (although it needs some getting used to this sort of breakfast....). These places are as cheap as 40 - 50 EUR for a squeaky clean double room smack bang in the city center - you can't really complain that Japan is expensive....

But we also wanted to try something very Japanese and opted for a temple stay once. Big mistake. Everybody has heard of paper thin walls, haven't you? Unfortunately, here they exist literally. The sliding doors are just made out of paper - nothing else. And although the temple hostel was actually quite quiet, we could hear our neighbours whispering. So much for privacy. The same applies for ryokan, so called Japanes guest houses. Very nice to look at, but no sound proofing whatsoever.

Tatami floor
One last thing that took getting used to. Many times you have a choice between a Western room with a bed and a so called Japanese or tatami room. That means that there is no bed and the floor consists of straw mats (tatami). During the day you can use the whole room and at night you roll out a futon and sleep on it. Sounds very idyllic, but is very hard on your back if you are not used to sitting on the floor all the time.

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