By Takane Shoji
Chisun Inns are a nationwide chain of budget hotels, designed to provide reasonable comfort at good value. They're generally aimed at business travelers or people driving across country, but can also often be found in cities or near interesting out-of-the-way sights.
Chisun Inn Himeji Yumesakibashi is typical of the chain. The location is a little out of the way, on the outskirts of the town, but not difficult to get to; it's on the bank of a river, and there's a terrace which in warmer weather will be a nice place to have breakfast while enjoying the view of the river and nearby hills.
It's in a largely residential area, and the staff can provide helpful maps showing nearby stores and places to eat; a few minutes down the road there's a supermarket which is open until 11:00 p.m. if you're in need of supplies beyond the soft drinks, beer and instant noodles you can get from the hotel's vending machines.
My room was pretty boxy, but comfortable enough, with sufficient space to hang my clothes and put my bags down. The color scheme of warm earthtones and small touches like the little picture on the wall above the bed made the room feel cosier and less sterile than other business hotels I've stayed at. The bathroom was also compact, with a good powerful shower, and is also equipped with a line to hang your clothes to dry if you do your laundry in the hotel's washing machines.
For an extra few hundred yen you can have the buffet breakfast, providing a mix of Japanese and western food. There's rice, fish, salad and miso soup, but also eggs, sausages, cereal and toast, along with coffee, tea and juice; if you're not in a hurry it's a nice way to start the day.
The big nearby attraction is Himeji Castle, though at the time of writing it's covered in scaffolding for a comprehensive renovation that will take until 2015. Around the castle there are a couple of interesting museums and a classical stroll garden, Himeji Koko-En.
Booking is easy on the English website, and if you book far enough in advance there are real bargains to be had, with prices as low as ¥3600 a night. It's not a luxurious place to stay, but for budget-conscious travelers or backpackers looking for a break from dorms, it's a good choice at a good price.
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I came to Japan from Manchester, England in summer 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I`m not working I write satire at www.iothern.blogspot.com and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check my youtube channel `CunningPunster` for a taste.