By Rod Walters
When I decided to explore the Ehime side of the Shimanami Kaido on one of the excellent bicycles provided by the Giant Store, I realized that it would be convenient to spend a night in Imabari near the JR railway station. There are several hotels in that vicinity, but I chose the Imabari Station Hotel because it’s right across the road from the station. Another reason was that when I phoned them and mentioned that I’d have a bike with me, the lady manager was very pleasant about it and said that I could put it safely inside the hotel.
After a pleasant evening tour of Imabari by bicycle, including the nearby port area and castle, I checked into the hotel. The night manager was friendly but not hugely polite in the Japanese manner. Check-in formalities were short since the hotel operates a pay on arrival system. The manager shoved some tables out of the way and offered me a place to park my borrowed bike in the dining area, where some robust-looking rental bikes were also lined up. He recommended that I lock my bike, “because it’s a nice one”. Since we were getting on so well, I asked him to recommend a place for dinner, and he pulled me outside by the sleeve to point out a nearby restaurant, Isokairaku Robata Yaki, which proved very satisfactory.
My room was on the third floor. I was a bit surprised at how small it was, but as I didn’t plan to spend much time in it, I wasn’t bothered. The room had a slightly smoky smell, which was semi-disguised by air freshener. I could hear the traffic in the station plaza below, including the clack of high heels and people talking. There was a very comfortable bed of reasonable width, a caddy for making tea, and a nice porn guide displayed discreetly-prominently next to the TV. I asked the manager if there was Wi-Fi and he lamented that there was not, but he could give me LAN cable if I had laptop. The other facilities in the room included an electric trouser press and a fridge that seemed unnecessarily noisy when I trying to get to sleep.
Japanese style rooms are available too, starting from two guests. I suspect these are quieter since they face another building rather than the station plaza. The hotel has no big bath or onsen, although the shower in the room was quite adequate. There’s a cup ramen vending machine in the corridor, and a coin laundry with a sake and beer vending machine.
The hotel is a bit old, but comfortingly clean. I was generally pleased with my stay, which cost a modest 4,720 yen without meals.
Name in Japanese
今治ステーションホテル — Imabari Station Hotel
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I was born in Bristol, England, and I came to Japan in 1991 … which means I’ve lived half my life in this island nation on the other side of the world. The theme of my career in Japan has been communication. I started as an English teacher, and moved into translation as I learned Japanese. I worked at a well-known electronics manufacturer, facilitating their multinational communications before I became a freelance translator. As such, I translated a lot of tourism-related information. It was obvious to me that most of this isn’t sufficient to convey the excitement and wonder of Japan. In 2011, I established Knowledge Travel Partners, an inbound tourism consultancy. After living in several regions of Japan, I settled in Ehime where my wife is from. It’s on the southern island of Shikoku facing the beautiful Seto Inland Sea, Japan’s Mediterranean. The pace of life here is slow and peaceful, but we do like to throw a raucous festival now and again.