Finding cheap accommodation options in Japan can be a bit of a challenge. There don't seem to be too many budget options if you are just looking for a place to crash for the night. It was a nice surprise to find that the people at I Love Outdoors have opened a backpacker style hostel next to their I Love Nature Cafe (home of an awesome burger experience.) There is a lot going on in Minakami so a backpackers is a welcome addition.
A bunch of us stayed in a bunk room, with friends taking over most of the rest of the building too. Our room consisted of a couple of sturdy bunk beds and a single bed packed together in a brightly decorated room. There isn't much floor space, just enough to stash your bags, but for 3,000 yen per head it was a good deal. About half the price of other accommodations we have used in the area before, and as it was just a place for a few hours sleep after a party, it was perfect. Each bed had a cosy duvet which was welcome as autumn is giving way to winter.
There are a selection of different room types with tatami, wooden floors and carpets and a mix of futons and bunk beds. All the rooms are really warm and there is a very "at home" feel to the place. The staff were around when we needed them and incredibly helpful. The burgers of the I Love Nature Cafe are just next door, and Minakami Station is a stone's throw away so access is really easy. There is parking too if you are driving. There was also a small living room with a TV, game console, free WiFi and even an old-school table top video game machine - a perfect place for us to hang out before heading out for the evening.
I Love Backpackers is likely to come into its own in summer as the crowds come into town to check out all the outdoor activities available. It is a pretty good base for winter too as there are a few ski resorts within easy reach, some great onsen close by and the owners have been in town for ages and seem to know all the good spots worth checking out. We'll be going back for sure.
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