Japan is a beautiful country, but it can also get quite expensive for average travellers like us. What can one do to save money and yet have an awesome holiday? During this trip, we are having these interesting experiences when it comes to accommodation:
We discovered an interesting place called Manboo manga cafe at Shinjuku. Starting from a few hundred yen an hour, you can rest for 5 hours at night for 1,100 yen per person!
What is amazing is that it comes with a private kiosk with a tiny sitting/sleeping area, free 30-min hot shower, free flow of drinks from its vending machine, free internet, free wifi if the phone is registered in Japan and of course, free reading of manga comics if you can read Japanese!
The downsides are that it is definitely more of a squeeze and less clean than a backpacker’s inn and you can’t choose your own shower timing. They will call you when the shower is available. Sometimes there are also only smoking rooms available and no sound proofing. We rested while drifting off to sleep on a neighbouring room’s snoring:)
We didn’t actually plan to spend the night there but we missed our overnight bus and were super tired after racing from Shinjuku station with our luggage and heading to the wrong bus stand. Anything with a place to rest and hot shower was great in the cold winter night!
There are also 24-hour Japanese restaurants or McDonalds where you can eat and rest for a few hours. After our 5-hour rest, we hopped across the street to this 24-hour restaurant.
By 6am, there were more casual eateries such as Yoshinoya and First Kitchen which were open.
Within the tiny capsule for double occupancy, there is a mini TV, mirror on the wall, ledge to put your phones and cameras for charging and enough room if you squeeze a little. We also like the clean sheets and comfortable mattress and the fact that it is more private compared to staying a 4-person quad sharing backpackers inn, and safer as all the capsules are tightly stacked together. The experience is similar to sleeping on an overnight train with a private small space.
Amenities wise, there is also free flow of water, vending machines, lockers to place your valuables and phone charging capsules if you do not have your charger with you.
What I found to be a problem is that the common bathroom is truly common, as there is no private stall for showering! There is only a hot bathtub for all of the same gender to share. Hmm…
There is also no space to keep your luggage with you at the sleeping area, so you have to leave them at the common reception or the lockers if they can fit in. It is quite inconvenient when you have to take a lift down just to retrieve something from your bag.
You know how far we have come when we reached 1166backpackers at Nagano and this was by far the most luxurious place we have stayed on this trip. The friendly staff, Key gave us a warm welcome with lots of fantastic recommendations on where to go, and we had our spacious private room with thick blankets and a heater and proper showers and free flow of tea and coffee. The other guests are also friendly and nice so we felt really happy here!
We have hosted people before at our house and for the first time, we are going to be a surfer in Tokyo. This is as close as you can get to staying with a friend as you stay for free and you get to meet people from different cultures. There is a big community of couchsurfing hosts around the world and I suspect we are going to be doing more of this in the coming future.
Hope this guide is useful for you!