Kansai Scene Magazine


A room at the inn

A round up of budget accommodation in Kansai

Kansai is on the up as a place to visit from overseas. Partly this is because of the obvious attractions of Kyoto, Nara and Kobe but also because of Osaka's rising image in the world. In response the number of options of places to stay has bloomed. Big hotels with bigger tariffs dominate Nishi-Umeda and the immediate environs of most railway stations. However, not all visitors are rock stars or corporately sponsored, so a great variety of accommodations have appeared on the scene with price tags that suit a variety of realities. These alternatives include budget hotels and guesthouses, which are good not only for the out-of-town visitor but also residents looking for a place to stop over in neighbouring city for a weekend or just get a break from the attentions of the family cat.

These accommodations offer various attractions such as convenient location, comfortable space utilizing traditional Japanese houses, a convivial atmosphere, facilities needed by the long-stay traveller.

Youth hostels

Previously the youth hostels in Osaka were located some distance from the center of the city, but in 2004, Shin-Osaka Youth Hostel was opened just five minutes on foot from Shin-Osaka Station and can accommodate 126 stay in 23 rooms - dormitory style and Japanese-style. It won the first place in Japan, and the fifth place in the world in the lodgers evaluation ranking by the International Youth Hostels Association this year on the strength of its new, beautiful equipment and dedicated volunteer staff, among other factors. The drawback for some travellers is that youth hostels come with restrictions such as curfews.

Shin-Osaka Youth Hostel
1-13-13 Higashi-Nakajima, Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-6370-5427 • www.osaka-yha.com/shin-osaka

The rise of Shin-Imamiya

The economy hotels around Shin-Imamiya Station have attracted an increasing number of overseas travellers in recent years. The association of the hotels in this region issued a brochure in English and Japanese, Osaka Shin-Imamiya Guesthouse for Budget Tourists which features 13 hotels.

Because of the presence of a labour centre, this area was originally an area of cheap lodging for manual day workers. However, changes in the economy and demographics brought a downturn in business for these lodgings. They have responded imaginatively to the new situation by refurbishing, providing English language support and targeting the backpacker and budget traveller. The area also provides good access to Kyoto, Nara and Kansai International Airport.

Hotel Chuo 1-1-12 Taishi, Nishinari-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-6647-7561
Email: [email protected]

Located in front of the east gate of Shin-Imamiya Station. The charge is ¥2,500. Equipped with TV set, fridge, air-conditioner, public bath, private shower for individuals, internet access.

Hotel Raizan South
1-1-12 Taishi, Nishinari-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-6647-2195 • Fax: 06-6647-3411
Email: [email protected]www.raizan.com

You can add this to your list of options in the Shin-Imamiya area. Private Japanese and Western style rooms for only ¥2,200 yen a night, with discounts for long-term travelers. Free internet, free coffee and an in-house video rental service will keep you enter- tained for hours.

Something different …

It is a recent trend that an owner will renovate a traditional Japanese house and start a small-scale guesthouse where about ten people can stay at a time. Most of these owners used to be backpackers and have travelled around the world, and they wanted to make a dormitory where the backpackers can stay and mingle with other guests. They offer local information the traveller can't get easily and provide fine service.

Sumo Backpackers
1-11-28 Nakatsu, Kita-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-6374-1423

The dormitory opened in 2003, in a renovated old temple house. It is in a convenient place, one minute from subway Nakatsu Station. Number of guests: 10. Most guests are non-Japanese because the establishment promotes itself only in English.

Guesthouse U-en
1-5-8 Uemachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-7503-4394 • www.u-en.net

Two women redecorated the old house and opened the guesthouse this July. It is on the second floor of a regional exchange space named Yui. On the first floor there is a cafe and an antique shop. Equipped with two types of room, private rooms and shared rooms (by gender) this guesthouse can accommodate 12.

Peace House Showa
2-8-4 San'ou, Tennoji-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-6632-2738

Peace House Showa is newly renovated and only for women. Features a big communal kitchen, internet connections in each room and you can rent bicycles for ¥500 a day. The house is totally non smoking. You can send email and make reservations from their web site.

Staying a bit longer

There is a residence-type guesthouse for the long-term visitor to Japan. These places are great for long but not indefi- nite stays because they don't require key money or deposits. The ones listed here are well appointed with kitchen, TV, shared showers and so on. These places suit the more sociable type of traveller.

Mayflower House
2-1-15 Izumimachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Tel: 0120-881-456 • Cell: 080-5436-1777

Although not named after a fruit, this guesthouse near Matsuyamachi subway station offers cozy, monthy accommodation with private bath, kitchen, and balcony for under ¥50,000/month.

Orange House
1-21-19 Hannan-cho, Abeno-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-6627-0790

Orange house has been a feature of Osaka ex-pat life since 1991. The nearest station is Showacho on the Midosuji subway-line. The rooms are 7 and half tatami mats(12 sq.m). Each room has a mini-kitchen, TV set, airconditioner, fridge, cupboard, internet access and so on. The number of rooms: 30; rent: ¥50,000 upward. There is a common room of 60-mats at the top of the building and the residents mix and socialise freely.

Lemon House
1-2-2 Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-6131-6677 • Cell: 090-5655-1050

This is a newer sibling of Orange House, established in 2005. It is located on the upper floor of the building which has the yakitori restaurant Iccho on the first floor, and there is a common room on the roof of the building. Capacity for one room is 4 people. Lodging is ¥2,000 per day ¥12,000 per week, ¥39,000 per month. Kitchen, toilet, shower and internet access are provided.

Guesthouses in Kyoto

Just a decade ago, it seemed that the only affordable accommodation was the regimented green-colored Higashiyama Youth Hostel located just a few blocks away from the Pig & Whistle. Nowadays, however, one quick Google search will reveal a plethora of affordable guesthouses catering to both the young, single traveller and small groups of friends. The added bonus of no curfews and free internet is finally starting to put Kyoto on the map as a backpacker-friendly destination.

Budget Inn
295 Aburanokoji-cho, Aburanokoji, Shichijo-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto • Fax: 075-344-1510

Dubbing itself as a "ryokan-style guesthouse", the inn caters to both single travellers and small groups. Dorm rooms cost ¥2,500 per night, while a three-person room will run ¥3,660 per person per night. Discounts are given for longer-term stays. A five-minute walk from JR Kyoto station.

Tour Club Kyoto
362 Momijicho, Higashinakasuji, Shomensagaru, Shimogyoku, Kyoto
Fax: 075-353-6968 • www.kyotojp.com

This is actually the sister hostel of Budget Inn, and offers similar style accommodation, but has the added bonus of a built-in Zen garden.

Crossroads Inn
45-14 Ebisu Banba-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-354-3066 • Fax: 075-354-3022
Email: [email protected]

Located in a quiet neighborhood a little further west of Kyoto station, Crossroads provides single rooms with shared bathroom for only ¥4,000. With only three guestrooms, the place fills up quickly.

K's House
418 Nayacho, Shichijo-agaru, Dotemachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-342-2444 • Fax: 075-342-2440
Email:[email protected]

Also located in the Kyoto station area, the guesthouse has just completed a new six-story annex with additional guestrooms, a café, and rooftop picnic area. They offer a variety of affordable twin and double Japanese style rooms, as well as dorm beds for ¥2,500 yen per night.

bAKpAK Hostel
1-234 Miyagawa-suji, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-525-3143 • Fax: 075-525-3144

This one is more centrally located near Kawaramachi station on the banks of the Kamo river, and caters more towards the young, party types. The rates are similar to all of the other hostels mentioned.

Nara and Kobe

Unfortunately, these two cities have yet to catch on to the guesthouse phenomenon with the notable exception listed below, but there are still a few affordable youth hostels if you don't mind the curfews and somewhat sterile environment. The Japan Youth Hostel web site (www.jhy.or.jp) has English information about all of the Hostelling International affiliated hostels in Japan. Additionally, the International Tourism Center of Japan has set up a handy and easy to use website to search for affordable accommodation throughout the Kansai region and the rest of Japan. The majority of ryokan, minshuku, pensions, and business hotels are under ¥8,000 per night. Bookmark the site for future reference the next time friends or relatives come to visit (www.itcj.jp)

Yougendo Guesthouse
13-25 Kudo 2-chome, Oji-cho, Kitakatsuragi-gun, Nara
Tel: 0745-32-0514 • Fax: 0745-72-2166
Email: [email protected]www.yougendo.com

If you're searching for traditional, rustic, reasonably-priced accommodation in a century-old Japanese dwelling then consider staying in Oji city, at one of Kansai's best kept secrets. The guests rave about the warm hospitality, peaceful surroundings, and scrumptious breakfast. Plus, the staff are completely bilingual.

Budget apartments

White net Life
While not a guesthouse per se, this real estate agent does have a number of monthly guesthouse listings in Hanazonocho, Tsuruhashi, and Awaji stations. The added bonus of no key money, deposits, or guarantors makes it appealing for both short-term residents and lifers.

Kyoto Apartment
Another service offering monthly rooms, but this is geared for people staying in Kyoto. Fully-furnished, air-conditioned rooms with no key money or guarantor. Choose from four different convenient locations.

Avior Manor
Even though it's geared toward the longer term resident (a minimum stay of 6 months is required), you never know when you'll need affordable accommodation in Higashi Osaka.

Apollo Properties
Apollo Properties have affordable, and comfortable apartments near central Osaka or have easy access to it. Apollo has been well established with the expat community for a number of years.

Text: Hiroshi Yamanoh & Wes Lang Photos: KS

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