By Scott Brause
As well as being one of Tokyo's main tourist draws, the area around Asakusa and Kuramae is home to a lot of budget accommodation, with a handful of capsule hotels and a larger number of youth hostels. One of them is K's House Tokyo, which was rated the number 1 hostel in Asia for 2007 by users of the hostelworld booking website.
Set back a little from a junction of two main roads, it's insulated from their noise; it's also well located for the subway, within easy walking distance of Kuramae, Asakusa and Tawaramachi stations, giving easy access to all areas of the city. Nearby attractions include the grand temple of Senso-ji, the Edo-Tokyo Museum and neighbouring Yasuda garden, and Kokugikan, the sumo arena. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops, with a cheap grocery store just a few minutes' walk away.
There are a mix of different room types: dorms for between five and eight people cost from ¥2900 to ¥3200 per person, and there are private rooms for two, three or four people, costing between ¥3200 and ¥3900 each. The dorm I was in was pretty cramped, with seven people plus luggage - big hardshell cases seem to have superseded backpacks for a lot of travelers - but others that I stuck my head into looked a bit more spacious.
Elsewhere in the hostel, there's a cosy lounge by reception, with comfy couches where you can chill out and socialize with other guests or read from their selection of books, guides and daily newspapers (including the English-language Japan Times). There's also a fridge and basic kitchen facilities here, and a very small raised Japanese tatami lounge. Upstairs there are a couple of showers on each floor, a washing machine, plus a pleasant terrace on the roof, which will be a lovely place to hang out in cooler times than the scorching summer day when I stayed.
Without exception the staff were friendly and helpful, spoke very capable English, and they also organize occasional events: I was there for 'free drinks evening', when they were giving out free sake and plum liqueur to any guests who wished to join in (including people who had already checked out - ahem - and were back to meet up with a friend).
So if you're a backpacker or budget traveler looking for somewhere to stay in central Tokyo, K's House is definitely a good option!
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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.