By Peter Sidell
Pretty much every autumn I go to Shizuoka City for the Daidogei World Cup, a four day festival of street performance from around the world. I like to stay somewhere central, friendly and inexpensive - who wouldn't? - and all three boxes are ticked at Hitoyado.
It really is a lovely place, newly renovated and run by two young women with limited English but unlimited hospitality and cheerfulness. The first floor doubles also as a coffee shop, with a separate area at the back where staying guests can use a fridge and microwave; there's also a comfortable couch, and lots of useful information about the city, some of it in English. The atmosphere here is relaxed and charming, with warm, wooden furnishings, attractive decor, and mellow music in the background.
Guests stay on the second floor, where there are twelve capsules and one private room, that has one single bed and another that's either a spacious single or a cozy double, depending on your point of view. There are lockers for valuables and a couple of good strong showers, and the compactness of the operation makes it very sociable, a good place to meet other travelers.
The capsules are the most spacious I've ever seen in any hostel or capsule hotel in Japan, big enough to comfortably fit a tall sumo wrestler, though he'd probably have to go in a lower booth for fear of breaking the steps. They're also very comfortable, with good thick mattresses and blankets and pillows, so I could always get a good night's sleep. In your capsule there's a light, a couple of power outlets and a USB port for charging your device (to make use of the free Wi-Fi, no doubt); a curtain provides some privacy, though that's slightly compromised (in the lower capsules) by a gap at the top, which also lets in the morning sun.
There aren't many sights nearby, but that's because there aren't many sights in the centre of Shizuoka City: you can walk to Sunpu Park in ten or fifteen minutes, Sengen-jinja shrine in about twenty. What you do have close by is a plethora of shops and eating and drinking options. If you want to just pop out for supplies, there's a convenience store one minute west, and a Shizutetsu supermarket one minute further. And literally just around the corner is the Creative Communications Centre, which sometimes holds free exhibitions by local artists and other interesting events.
One night costs from JPY3240 for a capsule, from JPY5400 for the room. There are no meals included, but for JPY500 you can have a morning set of drink and toast, the toast a thick, hearty slice, with options including cinnamon sugar, honey butter, and anko red bean paste with cream cheese.
The hostel is close to Tokiwa Park, about eight or ten minutes' walk from the north exit of JR Shizuoka station. Check-in is from 3:00pm to 10:00pm, check out before 11:00am.
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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.