You won’t want to leave – Sakura House / Sakura Hostel

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🌸 ACCOMMODATION FOR INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS

Sakura Hotel & Sakura Hostel

Since opening in 1992,Sakura House and the Sakura Hotel and Hostel Tokyo have welcomed guests from over 100 countries. Based primarily in Tokyo, Sakura House and the Sakura Hotel and Hostel Tokyo offer numerous apartments and share houses in addition to dormitories, including share houses catering to Muslims. All are located close to shopping malls, stations, and other areas that are easy to access.

Multilingual staff are available to answer any questions you may have during your stay, making it a safe option for first-time visitors to Japan. Guests can also experience Japanese culture through calligraphy and kimonowearing events held throughout the year.

Locations such as the Sakura Hotel Nippori and others that can accommodate more than 100 guests make this the perfect choice for short stays and longer stays alike, not just for small groups such as families and friends, but also for larger groups such as students, sports teams, and even businesses.

🌸 STAY IN JAPAN LIKE A LOCAL

Sakura House also has a rental vacation house in Kyoto in the traditional machiya style where you can stay from one night and longer. Vacation rental accommodation can be found both in Tokyo and Kyoto, and in addition to having no check in or check out and other time limits common to hotels, there is no need to pay for advance securities such as key money or deposits, seek out guarantors, or pay other types of processing fees. English-language onsite support is also available and, if there is a vacancy, you can begin your stay on the same day you make your booking. All listings come with furniture and bedding, and everything you need during your stay. Simply turn up, suitcase in hand, and start your life in Japan.

Sakura House and the Sakura Hotel and Hostel Tokyo allow you to enjoy a stay in Japan where you feel like a true resident. Come for a special experience that you won’t want to leave.

sakura house/hotel

Finding a place to stay in Japan

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Words: Dennis Bott

BUDGET ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS

Whether you’re staying long or short-term, finding somewhere to stay in Japan can be a daunting challenge especially if you don’t speak the language and have just arrived.

Although I haven’t tried it myself, Airbnb, where people rent out their rooms and apartments, seems to be a popular
choice nowadays. It’s usually cheaper than most hotels and depending on the option you choose, you could have an entire apartment where you can cook, use wireless internet and perhaps even get some travel advice from your hosts.

Another website called couchsurfing.com connects you with hosts around the world on the condition that you also offer your place to other couchsurfers. This can be a great way to connect with other travellers and organise trips together and basically allows you to stay for free, anywhere.

THE PROS AND CONS OF HOSTEL LIFE

Then, of course, there are hostels. Hostels also offer the ability to cook, but can often be noisy and sometimes rough or dirty. You also have to be careful about having your things stolen if you’re staying in a room with several strangers. On the positive side, they’re also a great place to meet people and can be really memorable experiences.

I once stayed in a really ratty hostel in Kyoto with about eight people in one room. People came in at all hours of the night and we all had to sleep in bunk beds. But I’ve also stayed in some really nice ones as well, so make sure you do your research and read the reviews.

BEST OPTION FOR LONG TERM STAYS

For those looking at a long-term stay, a guesthouse is probably the best option. There are several companies in Japan with English-speaking staff and websites where you can book a room by the month ahead of your arrival. There’s a deposit of 20,000 to 30,000 yen, but you get most of it back when you leave, as long as you don’t trash the room. The rooms are usually furnished with a bed with new sheets and a desk. The kitchen and bathrooms are shared with your housemates. I’ve actually lived in a guesthouse for the past two years. It’s convenient and it’s fun to meet the people from all over who come and go.

Another advantage is that a lot of guesthouses are conveniently located near big train stations so you can live relatively cheaply in a convenient area where rent would typically be very expensive. Paying rent is also easy because all the utilities are included in one price.

TRY A HOMESTAY FOR AN AUTHENTIC LOCAL EXPERIENCE

Another viable option is doing a homestay. I spent my first two months in Tokyo doing a homestay with a young couple who had two spare rooms. At first it was great having someone to talk to and dinner on the table every night. It was a great chance to see how Japanese people live and they organised a lot of activities every weekend. I would say that for a two-week stay, a homestay would be perfect. Any longer than that, in my experience, seems to be wearing out your welcome. It became uncomfortable trying to be home on time for dinner and I always felt like I had to be careful about making noise or using the shower.

Homestays can also be quite expensive in the long term, but I would say it was a great experience for someone arriving in Japan for the first time.

OTHER ALTERNATIVES – RENT YOUR OWN APARTMENT

Finding your own apartment presents its own set of pitfalls and challenges. First of all, you’ll need a bank account. But in order to get a bank account, you need an identification card and, of course, to stay in Japan you need some type of visa. Even if you have a job lined up before you come, getting everything in order takes time, so I recommend staying in a guesthouse for a month or two so you can take your time to find a good apartment.

Most apartments in Japan require at least a two-year contract as well as up to the equivalent of one or two month’s rent or so in deposits and fees. Choosing the right apartment in Tokyo is usually a compromise between price, size or location. Rarely will you find a place that is ideal in all three. You have to decide what’s more important for you depending on your own budget. For me, living in a central convenient location, close to a station and my job is important, but I also don’t want to pay a lot for rent. So I decided to sacrifice on space and privacy by just staying in my guesthouse.

Basically, the further the apartment is away from a train station, (i.e. less convenient) the more spacious or cheaper it will be. Some people decide to live outside of Tokyo altogether and commute into the city to save money on rent. For me though, not having to ride the crowded morning trains and being able to ride my bike to work is worth the extra cost of living in the city. I’m also able to stop home for lunch or go back if I forget something and I don’t have to worry about catching the last train at night on the weekends.

THERE ARE TONS OF OPTIONS, AND WITH A LITTLE PLANNING AND RESEARCH, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A HEADACHE.

A LITTLE PATIENCE AND PLANNING WILL PAY OFF

Hopefully, someone from your company or a friend willn help you with the process at the realtor’s office. You might be shocked to hear that some or many of the landlords will reject you right off the bat simply because you’re a foreigner. The most common reason is that they don’t want to deal with the language barrier. Also, they’re worried you will have poor Japanese etiquette such as making too much noise or not disposing of your trash properly. Some foreigners also leave Japan suddenly without paying all of their last bills. Whatever the reason, this is one of the most frustrating parts about finding an apartment in Japan. However, they do seem to be more open if you tell them you can speak some Japanese.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you won’t have internet for the first two or three weeks after you move into an apartment, while the telecommunications company changes the phone lines to your name. With proper research and planning, you may be able to shorten the waiting time by telling them ahead of time to get started on the process.

Make sure you budget ample time and money in your search for a place to stay. There are tons of options, and with a little planning and research, it doesn’t have to be a headache.

TRAVEL TIPS – GETTING AROUND

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A quick guide to domestic flights and train travel

JAPAN’S MAJOR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS

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NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Travelling to and from TOKYO

TRAINS

Narita Airport has two key rail connections operating between central Tokyo Station and the Narita Airport terminals. JR East’s Narita Express (N’EX) is the fastest option (60 min., ¥3020). The Keisei Sky Liner is the best choice for travel to Ueno (44 min., ¥2470).

BUSES

Airport Limousine buses stop at most major hotels and certain landmarks on the way to central Tokyo (75 – 125 min., ¥3100).

TAXIS

Taxis can be expensive depending on your destination. Travelling to central Tokyo costs approx. ¥20000 to ¥24000 by taxi.

A few domestic flights do leave from Narita, but most domestic flights leave from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (70 min. from Narita by the Airport Limousine bus).

using public transport system

Japan has an extremely efficient public transportation system. Trains and buses service a large network, especially in metropolitan areas and between cities, and are clean and punctual.

TRAINS

shinkansen-lines travel time

Most trains and train lines in Japan are owned by Japan Railways (JR). However, others are owned by a number of private companies, often sharing mutual tracks. The urban train systems comprise of shinkansen (bullet trains), limited express, express, rapid and local trains. Many are owned by separate companies, so it can be a little confusing. It’s a good idea to carry a route map (called rosenzu) with you at all times. You can pick one up from most train stations.

All individual tickets (including shinkansen, private railways and subways) can be purchased from vending machines or ticket offices. Individual ticket costs will be shown on the railway line map next to your destination station. Once you have checked the price, you can buy your ticket from one of the nearby vending machines. Children aged six to 11 pay half price and children under six travel free. Trains owned by different companies require different fares, so prepaid integrated-circuit (IC) cards such as Pasmo and Suica, are a useful way to simplify the system (see box). Passengers tend to form queues while waiting for the next train.

SUICA AND PASMO

Suica and Pasmo are rechargeable, prepaid integrated-circuit cards that can be used for all buses and trains (except shinkansen), regardless of the operating company.

Suica or Pasmo cards can be purchased and recharged at rail vending machines and ticket counters in Tokyo. The initial cost consists of a small refundable deposit plus an initial loading of ¥1500 (for Suica) or between ¥500 and ¥10500 (for Pasmo). When riding the train, touch the card to the card reader when you pass through the station’s ticket barrier. The applicable fare will be automatically deducted at the ticket gate at your destination. When riding the bus, touch the card to the reader when you board. If you are required to pay when alighting, make sure you touch your card to the reader when you get on and again when you get off for the appropriate fare to be deducted.

THE JAPAN RAIL (JR) PASS

The JR pass allows unlimited travel on JR-owned trains, buses and ferries for periods of 7, 14 or 21 days. JR passes are available outside of Japan (either online or through your travel agent) before your visit. See www.japanrailpass. net for more information.

BUSSES

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Many bus routes link train stations and residential areas. Each stop is announced and displayed on an electric signboard on approach. Push the button to alert the bus driver when you wish to alight. Tickets are purchased upon entering the bus, or when getting off, depending on the bus company and the bus route. Fares can be pre-paid or you can use cash or integratedcircuit cards (Suica or Pasmo) on the bus.

*It is considered bad manners to talk on a mobile phone in trains and buses, so they are best left switched off or muted.