Return to Kangetsu  

Friday, 11 July 2008

11072008011 It’s 6.00am and I am blogging from a humble little room at my beloved Kangetsu ryokan (Japanese inn) in the sleepy Tokyo suburb of Chidoricho. We have returned to Tokyo to organise the move to the new place and generally get everything set up ready for our new life. We don’t actually sign the contracts on the new place until next Tuesday, so for a few days I am staying at my favourite cheap-and-cheerful Tokyo hotel.

kangetsu The Kangetsu is an institution amongst budget-conscious travellers from around the world. Tucked away up an innocuous flight of stone steps, the hotel is actually a ramshackle group of buildings gathered around a central courtyard that is about as Japanese as you can get. There are stone steps, small ponds and a little red bridge that sets off perfectly the lush green vegetation that crowds in from all directions. Stepping through the bamboo arch into the courtyard is like stepping into a jungle clearing – a delightful and unexpected surprise in the otherwise uniformly urban surrounding streets.

I first stayed here about 4 or 5 years ago and it was one of my first experiences of Japan. As such, it holds a very special place in my heart. It was here that I discovered the vending machine that dispenses both ice-cold beer and hot coffee; it was here that I first ventured self-consciously into a traditional Japanese bath house. It was here that I first discovered what a public transport system should actually be like; every ten minutes a train arrives at the local station that will whisk you into Tokyo for about 80p.

Sure, it’s not particularly salubrious, it can be noisy and there is little in the local area by way of tourist attractions. But there is something undeniably charming about this outpost of Japanese hospitality. I love it.

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