Tokyo and Fuji – 2013
After a long bus ride back to Shinjuku, we again had all our bags and the fun of navigating the subway system to get to our next and final location – Asakusa. Luckily, the last leg of the trip we were able to take the Tsukuba Express, which dropped us off right around the corner from our hostel. The weird thing about the Tsukuba Express is that it is deep, deep underground. We walked outside at the Akihibara station, where we transferred to this line, and then we went back inside, and went down the equivalent of 6-8 stories underground before we reached the platform. Japan is pretty crazy with the underground stuff.
Once we arrived at our new hostel (K’s House Tokyo Oasis), we were presented with the japanese indoor/outdoor shoe issue again. One of us accidentally wore the outdoor shoes in, and was quickly but politely corrected.
The new K’s House was smaller than the previous one (in Fuji), which had a extra large kitchen and a full dining room, so at first we wondered if it was going to be difficult to be able to use the small single table and small kitchen area, especially in the morning, when it was usually very busy at K’s House Fuji. However, the whole time there we never had to compete for the room once, and were generally completely alone while cooking and eating in there.
This K’s House, like the previous one, had a shared refrigerator, which is simply not a problem in Japan: no one steals. At K’s House Fuji, I saw people leave 6 packs of beer, not even in a bag, with no worries. On the streets, people regularly leave their bikes unlocked with no issues. It also has full kitchen amenities – dishes, pots and pans, coffee maker and hot tea water, microwave, toaster, etc..
I had never stayed in a hostel before, so I had always imagined that a hostel would involve sleeping in a large dorm room with a lot of other people, having no security in regards to your luggage, and using a large shared shower or bathroom, or one you had to wait in line for.
I certainly did not imagine this:
This was one of the largest (and nicest) bathrooms we had seen on the trip. K’s House Fuji was the smallest.
Adorable origami left for us:
We had paid for 2 private rooms, which cost a little more, but this was 20 times nicer than the Shinjuku New City Hotel, for a similar price. The New City Hotel was also quite a ways from the station and the main action of Shinjuku.
So, after we settled in and once again happily dumped our luggage, we headed out to see what was nearby. It turned out that K’s House was great not only in quality but also in location. Also, the great thing about both K’s Houses that we stayed at, the staff are super friendly and they both gave us good maps of the area showing where to shop and buy groceries, etc.. This is more helpful than you would think, since even with the wifi that they both have, you are still dealing with Google maps that are mostly in Japanese, and you don’t have Yelp to help you.
This was just around the corner from our hotel. On the right, just a few storefronts up, was the 100 yen store (oh yeah).
We kept going down this block and found a lot of little stores, many had closed because it was already late in the day at this point. Among them, a couple of grocery stores, a fresh sushi place (which we later returned to), and about a million smoke shops. They sold all kinds of weird cigarettes there, including these aptly named ones:
And here again, the weird smoking rules. “Do not smoke while walking,” the cute little whatever-that-is reminds you. However, there are ashtrays about every block (pretty much outside every smoke shop), where people can stand and smoke, and also people were actually smoking while riding their bikes. I don’t think I will ever fully understand the smoking rules in Japan.
Other sights on the streets of Asakusa:
After we had explored a bit, we went back to the fresh sushi place and got ourselves some salmon nigiri and rolls. We also grabbed some highballs in a can from the local grocery, and had a nice dinner at K’s House that felt like we were in our own private room. The sushi wasn’t quite as fresh as we would have liked, but it did the trick.
Later on, JB ventured out and stumbled upon a piece of the summer festival.