Hostel Review: Bonsai Guesthouse

Bonsai Guesthouse, located just steps from Osaka’s Loop Line (桃谷駅-Momodani Station – by far the easiest treasure map I have had the pleasure of navigating) is where you will want to set up shop if you ever find yourself travelling in Osaka on your own dime. As with any guesthouse, the price is right, but there is just oh-so much more that this place conveniently provides.

We arrived at (大阪駅) Osaka Station around five in the morning (thank you Willer Express night bus service!), and after an extended breakfast at the Embassy (read: McDonald’s – never have hotcakes tasted so good), it was time to see if we could drop off our bags and sort a shower. The Bonsai staff, who all speak English and willingly entertain your broken Japanese, were extremely accommodating, allowing us to shower, tap into their Wi-Fi, and store our backpacks until check-in. This is a huge service, especially after spending the night on the road.

And the surplus of features does not stop there.

Everything is cleverly thought out in every part of the guesthouse. From clearly marking the wireless password on the front desk to separating the toilets, sinks, and showers (three of each!) to an invitingly mingle-friendly common room (complete with side kitchen), this place is all about the details. As one might expect, you can find an assortment of pamphlets and maps with things to do in and around Osaka. And bonus: the staff are pleased to recommend things to do in the area and give you directions to perhaps otherwise hard-to-find, far-off destinations.

The rooms are also clean and cozy, decked out with the latest IKEA domestications, and even a wall-mounted desk should you so happen to be inclined to set up a mobile office.

Bonsai Guesthouse is extremely clean, fashionable, comfortable, friendly, warm, cozy and memorable. Thai food awaits you next door and in the morning there is a Mister Donut or two with your name on it.

Seven cheers for Bonsai!

P.S. Check the roof: there really is a Bonsai farm up there!

Price: ¥2,500 – ¥3,200

To Book: Bonsai Guesthouse

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Photo Credit: Tiffany Yoshida

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Hostel Review: 長崎かがみや (Nagasaki Kagamiya)

Location:

Nagasaki City, Nagasaki, Japan

Review:

Kagamiya guesthouse, located just minutes from Hotarujaya Station (Nagasaki Tram Line) in an old school Nagasaki neighborhood, is run by the well-travelled Ms. Yukari Nadeshiko and her husband.

The guesthouse is relatively small, which enables an intimate atmosphere not often found at other accommodations that attract your budget-conscious backpacker. It houses a couple private rooms, a mixed dorm, and a Victorian-feeling common room, complete with Wi-Fi, hot tea, and all the information one could ever possibly need on Nagasaki.

Ms. Nadeshiko is as neighborly as they come, offering up recommendations for sightseeing, local delicacies, and nightlife in and around Nagasaki.

Not surprisingly, this guesthouse is immaculately clean and the common washroom and shower will make you feel right at home. It actually does feel like your staying at someone’s house, or exactly that: a guesthouse. The owners live just across the way and are there in the morning to get your day started on the right foot.

This place cannot be beat for the price. The only small hiccough is that the directions from the tram station are a bit ambiguous, making it a bit difficult to navigate to, especially after dark. Trust your judgment, and worst-case scenario, the owners will meet you by the main road should you happen to saunter off into some mysterious hillside graveyard. Not that we did that or anything.

Recommendations:

Mount Inasa at night → Beautiful panoramic view of Nagasaki (Ropeway Station).
長崎のちゃんぽん → Deliciousness found all over Nagasaki.
Glover Gardens → Soaring views from the European side of Nagasaki.
¥500 tram pass → easily worthwhile if you ride the tram more than 4 times per day, which is very, very easy to accomplish.

Price: ¥2,500 – ¥3,000

To Book:

長崎かがみや

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Hostel Review: Guest House Kaine

Location:

Fukuoka, Hakata, Japan

Review:

Guest House Kaine is exactly what a good guest house should be: intimate, inexpensive, and indispensable. It is situated two brief subway stops away (Nakasukawabata) from Hakata Station – Fukuoka’s main terminal – in what one could easily get away with calling a “precisely quaint, immaculately clean” Fukuoka neighborhood.

The treasure map from the station to the hostel is extremely easy to follow, taking about two to three average length pop songs on foot. You enter the guest house through a familiar Japanese noodle shop (right, you have to go through a noodle shop to get to the guest house! Question everything, don’t question anything.), and are immediately greeted by friendly personnel ready to help sort out your evening.

The warm tones of the place are immediately noticeable as you creep around its tight corners, slipping your shoes off to enter narrow hallways and an oh-so cozy common room. The personnel show you all the basics: toilet, shower (all soaps provided, but bring a towel), internet terminal, and your tatami spot, which is up a tapered, ladder-like staircase. Again, the intimate glow to this place is its charm. Explore diligently.

Recommendations:

Hakata style outdoor ramen shops in the neighborhood → Delicious ramen and perhaps a chance to chat with the locals.

Kirin, a table, and some origami → Guest house staff will teach you origami as you drink ¥500 giant bottles of Kirin. You could be doing worse things with your life.

Ask the staff if this sounds incredibly boring to you → There is no shortage of entertainment options in the area.

Price:

¥2600 for a night. Worth every yennie.

To Book:

Kaine Guest House

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