By Bonson Lam
The Himeji 588 Guesthouse is a great place to lay your head if you are looking for comfortable lodgings in Himeji with a central location at a reasonable price. Opened in late 2011, the guesthouse is the dream of proprietor Kyoko Matsuoka, who has a passion for meeting people from around the world and getting them excited about Himeji.
The guesthouse is conveniently located between Himeji Station and Himeji Castle, under Himeji's shotengai, or covered shopping street. It is a ten-minute walk from the station and a five-minute walk to the castle with plenty to do all around. Matsuoka, a Himeji native, has gone to great lengths to promote her local neighborhood by lovingly crafting a hand-drawn map (including her own illustrations) to nearby attractions, restaurants, and cafes. She is happy to give each of her guests a copy.
Her map includes many budget options to correspond with the very reasonable prices at her guesthouse. A private room runs ¥3,500 for one person or ¥6,000 for double occupancy. There are two dormitory style rooms, one for women and one for men, that run ¥2,700 per person. All of the rooms are basic, Japanese-style tatami rooms with futon. They offer a comfortable place to spend the night in Himeji that's perfect for the backpacker or budget traveler.
The guesthouse used to be a restaurant that has been thoughtfully converted by Matsuoka into a cozy inn. It has new showers and a spacious communal sink area. The bedrooms are upstairs, and the ground floor has room to relax with friends after a long day of sightseeing. Matsuoka sometimes offers cafe time, making coffee, snacks, and ice cream available for purchase. She will also gladly offer a number of suggestions on where to get a local meal. There are lots of free brochures and map for the discerning traveler, but one of the most valuable features of the guesthouse is the free WiFi available throughout.
The Himeji 588 Guesthouse is eclectically decorated with hand-made touches all around. It is obvious that Matsuoka has made her guesthouse a labor of love. She wants you to have a carefree stay and enjoy her hometown of Himeji. She is a very capable English speaker and is ready to help you find the most the city has to offer. This comfortable and affordable guesthouse makes spending the night in Himeji an easy decision.
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I enjoyed living in Japan for nearly seven years. After studying Journalism and Japanese studies in Chicago, I first went to Japan in 2005 and taught English for two years. I returned to the States, but I soon found myself back again. My second time in Japan was only for one year, which I spent working at a Japanese company. On my third stretch, I returned with my wife and ended up working at a study abroad agency, helping Japanese students pursue their dreams of studying English in different countries. I spent all of my seven years living in Hyogo, the heart of Japan, where I split my free time between traversing the great outdoors and seeking out design-centric shops and cafes in Kobe and the Hanshin area. Hyogo has a little bit of everything, and it's the perfect fit for someone who loves both beautiful, natural scenery and modern, urban adventure.