Before the Japan trip fades into the past, I want to recommend staying at Yamatoya Honten, a hostel in Osaka. A hostel in Japan would be a hotel anywhere else. I can’t imagine what the hotels are like, other than very expensive. I booked Yamatoya Honten via Travelocity. It cost the two of us approximately $60 per night each for a shared private room.
It was well worth it. In addition to a place to sleep, we had an eating area, a private bathroom with a small Japanese tub with hand-sprayer, and a Western style toilet. I really really really really dislike using the traditional Japanese women’s toilet. Our bathroom even had special bathroom-only slippers. And the seat was heated, among other things although we couldn’t figure out most of them.
The best surprise was being able to enjoy the use of the traditional Japanese public bath (men and women separate). They provided robes for us to wear downstairs, which we most certainly did not arrange correctly. But we entertained ourselves anyway as usual.
I should probably note that there are no beds at Yamatoya Honten. The staff comes during the afternoon to make up mats and cherry pit pillows, then comes in the morning and puts them away. They also set hot water for tea. Jessie and I were quite comfortable this way, but we are both small people. The room supposedly fits up to four. I think that would be crowded unless you all really liked each other.
The hostel was centrally located near restaurants, a busy shopping area and two train lines. The directions from the train were not very good. I recommend printing out the address in Japanese so that people will be more able to point you in the right direction. We wandered lost for an hour until finding a coffee shop merchant who spoke some English and kindly called the hostel for us to find out the address in Japanese.
A general note about traveling in Japan – most places do not accept credit cards or debit cards. I was able to pay for the hostel by credit card but only because I booked on-line. Take a lot of cash and exchange it at the airport (or beforehand). Also, food is very expensive, in addition to the dismal exchange rate. Jessie and I had to come up with a new plan after we realized we’d spent $120 on our first modest meal with beer. We bought breakfast items at a grocery (which we stored in the small refrigerator in the room), snacked on nuts and coffee in a can in the afternoon, then splurged on big sushi dinners.
2-17-4 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku,
Osaka-city, Osaka 542-0082, Japan
See Flickr for more of my favorite pics from around Osaka.