A home is a safe place where one can be himself or herself. There’s no better word to describe our accommodations in Japan but HOME.
We arrived in Tokyo on 25 July 2015. We went straight to my friend’s place to leave some of our luggage because we wanted to just purely backpack in Japan. Funny how my husband commented right after realising I was just bringing my purse while he was carrying a duffel bag and a backpack. I didn’t want to be such a princess so I gladly took the backpack, of course! Haha!
After dropping some of our stuff, we immediately went to Asakusa in Tokyo to check-in. Asakusa is a very historic district in Tokyo. There are a lot of tourist spots near this district such as Ueno, Nippori and Ryogoku.
I have dreamt of staying in a traditional Japanese room, ryokan, all my life. It is a tatami-matted room where you get to sleep on futons. Ryokans usually have communal baths but we were not too comfortable with that idea, not just yet, so we opted for our own private bathroom in our room.
I got so giddy with excitement when I stumbled upon this ryokan in the heart of Asakusa. Imagine, fulfilling my dreams of a ryokan experience, in Asakusa, in Tokyo, with its reasonable price per night and good reviews-this ryokan is soooo dope! I quickly booked a room in Asakusa Ryokan Toukaisou.
Unlike the very traditional ryokans you’ll find in Gion which are extremely expensive and super pretty (like when you open your sliding door, you’ll find a beautifully-landscaped garden), Ryokan Toukaisou is already good enough when you are backpacking in Japan on a budget. Here are the reasons why we enjoyed our stay in Asakusa Ryokan Toukaisou.
- It is very accessible. You need to take the Ginza Subway Line and alight in Tawaramachi Station. It is only a 5-minute walk from the train station. Its location also provides a good access to Tsukiji Fish Market, Roppongi Hills, Akihabara, Shibuya and Disneyland!
- There are a lot of establishments that are open 24 hours nearby such as The Rox, a department store. There is a supermarket at the basement and past 9pm, all the bento meals and sushi go on sale. People buy as if Armageddon is happening tomorrow. We joined the chaos and hoarded dinner and breakfast. For our first dinner in Tokyo, we spent about $1,000 yen (SGD 11 or 369 pesos) for two bento meals and breakfast! Kamown, mamown! Super tipid hits diba?! Actually, many supermarkets do this so, if you are on a budget, this is a good deal plus their bentos are really delish!
- This ryokan is surrounded by many places of interests like the Sensoji Temple, Five-storey Pagoda, Kaminarimon Gate, Tokyo Skytree and the Sumida River where they hold an annual fireworks festival. We were lucky to be welcomed with such display of grandeur on our first night. Here is a map from their website:
4. The staff are very friendly, helpful, welcoming and speak good English. They will provide you all the information you’ll need during your stay. Not only that, upon booking, they’ll immediately connect with you to personally keep in touch with you. Very efficient indeed!
5. The price is very reasonable for an accommodation in Tokyo. We booked the Double Room (ensuite). It costs 7000 yen (SGD 79 or 2600 pesos) per room per night. Check the other room options and rates on their website.
6. For the adventurous women who would like to experience wearing a Kimono while exploring Tokyo, Toukaisou offers a package for this. Just inquire about this when you check in. It costs 3,500 yen to be dolled up almost like a geisha.
7. This ryokan is very cozy. I slept like a baby during our first night. I also liked how they kept the rooms, bathrooms and toilets very clean. The rooms are air-conditioned, have a small television, a green tea set so you can have a romantic tea date before bedtime (haha!) and to complete the whole ryokan experience, Japanese robes. Here we are having our green tea before bed time…
Pardon my hubby’s pa-cute face. I’m very smitten by this face, actually. Heehee.
6. There is fridge and microwave on the first floor and you can also do your laundry anytime. If your legs get tired from walking, you can also rent a bike. Just inform their uber friendly receptionist.
Here are some photos of our room in Asakusa Ryokan Toukaisou. Apologies if I wasn’t able to give justice in capturing its beauty. I’m still in the process of improving my photography skills but for now, I hope these will do.
The facade. I love how the greens complement the brick walls of its exterior.
The tatami-matted room.
There’s the small TV! I forgot to mention that there’s also a hair dryer. Above the TV is the spacious cabinet. Too spacious that I can fit inside! Hahaha!
throw pillows, futons, comforters, pillows- all you need at the end of a loooonnngg day.
The bathroom and the toilet. I failed to take a good picture of the toilet, actually. On top of the tank, there’s a tiny sink where you wash your hands after doing your business. It’s the Japanese way of conserving water. 🙂 The bath tub’s size was good enough for me but totally not for my husband. Just imagine a six footer trying to fit in this bath tub and you’ll get what I mean.
After spending two nights in Asakusa Ryokan Toukaisou in Tokyo, we made our way to Kyoto the following day. We took the bullet train. For some reasons, I now prefer taking bullet trains compared to planes after this experience. It took us two hours to reach Kyoto but was not an issue at all because we enjoyed the scenery. It was like we were in a time machine where we saw the surroundings transform from modern to old, from monstrous skyscrapers to rice fields and mountains. We loved it!
For our accommodation in Kyoto, I booked it thru Airbnb. Our host’s name is Kiyoko. She is an English teacher, too, which is actually a plus point when I narrowed down my accommodation options in Kyoto. She lives all by herself in her beautiful home, The Coco Wa House. All the rooms that she rents out are on the second floor. Her space is on the first floor. She has converted one room on the first floor into a classroom. When I saw Kiyoko’s posting, her house reminded me of this Japanese cartoon I enjoyed watching, Arrietty. Kiyoko is a very hospitable host. Engaging with her was a breeze and she would always have breakfast ready for her guests. She always makes sure her guests have enough energy to fully explore the grandness of Kyoto. Guests definitely look forward to breakfast time! Check out some photos (grabbed from Airbnb) of her lovely home, The Coco Wa House.
One of the rooms. Tatami-matted too!
Her living room where we usually have breakfast while sitting down on the floor. Very Japanese!
Her digital toilet and super clean bathroom
Part of her receiving area
The room where we stayed in overlooking beautiful Japanese houses.
Another shot of her living room
Her kitchen and her piano, where her cat, Omiyata, usually hangs out.
It takes about 10 minutes to walk from from the JR Katsuragawa Station to The Coco Wa House. There is a 7-11 and shopping mall nearby. Planning of going to Osaka for a day-trip? No problem! It is just a few minutes away from Kiyoko’s place. We definitely look forward to staying in The Coco Wa House again. To find out about room availability and rates (super affordable), check out Airbnb and type in The Coco Wa House, Kyoto, Japan.
Here is our photo with Kiyoko..
Kiyoko gave me this tiny Sto. Nino that she got from her Cebu trip many eons ago. She was single back then and was told by the seller that if she buys it, she’ll have many babies. She gave it to me together with all her good wishes that my husband and I be blessed with babies too. We hope that when we get to visit her again, there’s a tiny Abe/Alberto tagging along with us.
For our last three days in Japan, we were lucky enough to stay with good friends in Kawasaki. Kuya Erik and Sally’s beautiful home became even more charming because of little Kazuki. We hope to see you guys again and bond with you guys longer. Hug Kazuki for us!
We will definitely be back again, Japan. Thank you for making us feel safe and at home.