If you read my blog from the beginning, God bless your soul, you know that I refuse to stay in a chain hotel. I declared about it many times; like in here, here and here. So these days I spend my lunch hour doing my travel homework which is finding an interesting place to stay on our big trip of the year, next year. This afternoon, it reminded me of my favorite accommodation in Japan, which Ihavenoideawhy, I haven’t blog about yet.
Virtual friends, weekend brunch buddies and neighbors, when you visit Tokyo, you must stay in Ryokan Asakusa Mikawaya Honten in Asakusa because they have tatami room. TATAMI people!
If you are one of those people who aren’t fascinated by tatami flooring (but why?), here is why you still should book your stay there:
1. It is a Ryokan
Ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese hotel. Forget about staying in normal, or worse, a chain hotel in Japan. You are in JAPAN man! Be funky! And if capsule hotel is not your thing (yet), please at least stay in a ryokan and experience the Japanese way of living and sleeping for that matter.
2. The Public Room
The common room-cum-lobby is a cozy place dominated by an indoor picnic table where people can sit and socialize if they want to. If they don’t, they can read children’s books, make some tea, watch some TV, or browse the Internet. Every day we hung out there for some time. On the typhoon night we practically spent the whole evening there.
The common room has many knickknacks; my favorite ones are the panda soft toys, a miniature of Tokyo Tower where they hang a miniature chalkboard with weather updates and the vending machine.
3. The Room and the Bathroom
I shared a room with Yin while Vi slept in our free-of-charge room.
When I first saw the room, the word simple came into my mind. There were no beds. It has tatami flooring, and two thin mats with pillow sets. There were only a few of furniture; a small table in the corner and a night lamp on it, another small table with a flat screen TV on it (thank God for that, we had a blast watching many weird Japanese TV shows; more on that in a separate post). No closet, no dressing table, no unnecessary anything. There were shoji windows and a small painting. In shorter words, it was Zen.
There was a Yukata and a pair Geta for each of us. We changed in a flash (my first Yukata!!) and took a dozen of pictures wearing it.
And the bathroom, the famous unit bath! It was an honor to take shower in there. A unit bathroom is a single plastic unit that contains a door, walls, ceiling, floor, sink, a toilet, a bath, a shower and drainage. It was tiny, definitely not for the cluster phobic, but I liked it. I imagined it would be easy to clean; you just need to take a shower in it. There was also a bathtub; yes, shocking! but it was one third of the normal bathtub size. If I bend my body in a certain yoga position, I could soak there for a while.
Fun fact: Baths in Japan are for soaking and relaxing, and all the family members use the same water. In homes with small tubs, each family member bathes one by one, in order of seniority, traditionally starting with the oldest male or the oldest person in the household. If there are guests in the home, they will be given priority. I love Japan. I love it so much I want to pack my bag and buy one way ticket to Japan, but there is no way I am soaking voluntarily in a bath water that has been used by anyone including my mama. No. Nope. Not going to adapt this tradition.
The only thing this lovely room missing was one of my most favorite things about Japan, the high-tech toilet. The seat was warm, it has a bidet, front and back. It produced warm water, cold water, as well as air. You could adjust the power of the spray and the temperature of the water. There was even a sound button, I think… If only it could say things like: “Welcome master, it has been a while”, “Good morning master, ready to start your day?” and “Nice butt master”, I would have bought one home.
4. The Neighborhood
Asakusa is one of the best areas to stay in Tokyo. In my opinion, it was even better than Shinjuku. Asakusa has a marketplace devoted to tourists’ shopping spree. You can get anything everything Japan souvenirs here. Green tea, Yukata, Kami, Maneki-Neko, they have it all. I could spend the whole day here, again.
There was a famous sushi joint in Asakusa called.. umm I don’t know what was the name of it, let me google and update you on it (you can also ask the Ryokan lady about it, she will give you the name and the direction). People, EAT YOUR SUSHI there. It’s fresh and delicious. I give a five star to this restaurant in terms of value, quality and efficiency. The que was quite long, so maybe bring a book? or besties, like I did.
Another a must-try-fun-eatery-place in Asakusa is the cozy midnight sake/bbq place, again I don’t know the name but you can read more about it in my Tokyo post.
The ryokan is less than five minutes away from Asakusa train station. It has a Lawson nearby where you can buy the yummy Meiji milk.
5. The Host
Ryokan Asakusa Mikawaya Honten is a family owned business. The daughter is looking after it. She is a beautiful lady who was very kind to us. When we checked-in, she handed us two sets of room-keys, we booked for one room, she said there was a spare room we could stay in since there were three of us. YAY!
She helped mapping down the nice eatery places in the neighborhood. She warned us about the typhoon and cheered us up when we were worried the typhoon might ruin our Mt Fuji trip on the day after (it didn’t). She gave us an endless supply of green tea. Not to mention she took many pictures for us; a picture of me hugging the panda, Yin hugging the panda while hugging me, the panda hugging Vi, and of us and the panda.
Book your room now! Experience the authenticity and enjoy their hospitality.Address: 1-30-12, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Phone: +81-3-3841-8954 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Price: starts from 7000 Yen
An epilogue: Vi left her handphone in Tokyo!! She realized it when we reached Kyoto hotel in the evening. She called the ryokan and inquired about it. The owner said she found it and has been waiting for our call. Luckily, we were coming back to Tokyo to fly back home. So on the last day we went back to Asakusa to collect her handphone (and to do last minute souvenir shopping).
An unnecessary disclosure: this is not a sponsored post. I wrote this because I like the ryokan a lot and I like you, also I am a little obsessed with hotel-staying. I want to share my experiences with you, including interesting places I have slept in. This got me thinking; I am going to write a series about fun places to stay in, recommendations about accomodations, once a month if I am not too lazy. It can be a good motivation to do research, which I should have been doing instead of writing this. Oh well, I am doing it in another tab Yin. Multitasking is so in right now.
A word about typhoon: I understand that typhoon is a natural disaster, scary and bad, but I am glad I got to experience it once in life (hopefully only once). I love the fact I can brag about surviving typhoon, even though surviving means watching weird TV shows while munching weird flavors Kit-Kats.