* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, October 24, 2004 Issue No. 30


- What's new
- Weekly Bargain Roundup
- Frugal tips
- Credits

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Language: English
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Email: info@ea-tokyo.com



Dear Frugal Readers,

Having just finished my first business trip to Tokyo after moving to Osaka,
I can say one thing: I'm not as young as I used to be. In fact, I'm
getting old. The youth hostel, backpacker's hotel, and other super-budget
options leave me feeling more tired when I left than when I arrived. My
back, and desire for some privacy, just can't take it any more.

As a result, I'm always on the lookout for good deals on accommodations
in major cities in Japan that also provide a relaxing, semi-private stay.
This last trip, I decided to check out one of the untried hotels on my
the FrugalJapan.com Hotel Tips list (http://www.frugaljapan.com/tips/hotel.html),
the Andon Ryokan.

The roykan's website looked very promising (www.andon.co.jp): an
architect-designed building, only 1 1/2 years old, filled with unique
spaces, Japanese antiques, and all for a reasonable price. I reserved a
room for three nights, at 7,800 yen per night. The price is the same
regardless of how many people stay in the room, and a room will fit up to
three people, making this a good bargain option for couples or small
families. The hotel requires a credit card for reservations, but you can
pay in cash. A 2,000-yen key depositis required, but refunded when you
leave. (Note: a triple room is 10,800 yen,or around 3,500 yen per person.)

First, please remember the hotel is geared for international travelers
visiting Japan on a budget, so there are common showers and bathrooms
(all very clean), and the rooms are rather small. The single shower per
floor is made up for a very lovely private jacuzzi bath, available for use
by reservation at the front desk. Each room features a simple double futon
set, a TV, DVD player, table, and small closet. It ALSO (for Internet junkies
like myself) features some of the speediest optical fiber Internet I've had
the pleasure of connecting to ever -- in each room. The ryokan even has LAN
cables available. The front desk also boasts a movie library, discount
train tickets, phone cards, iron/ironing board, and other amenities. Overall,
very impressive.

The hotel common areas include, standard for most accommodations of this type,
a lounge and kitchen. Free coffee and tea are available 24/7,
as well as common Internet access. Breakfasts are a real treat, with a
French toast and cinnamon toast option for 300 yen, and a full breakfast
option for 500 yen. Absolutely delicious, and cheap to boot. Finally, both the
unique architectural atmosphere and friendly staff made for a great stay.
The hotel is located in Tokyo's historic Taito district, a five-minute
walk from the Minowa subway station on the Hibiya line, two stops north
of Ueno. It's a bit difficult to find, so download the map from the hotel's
website before you go.

All in all, I can recommend Andon Ryokan without hesitation, and would really
love to go back, especially to get some more of that excellent French toast!

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura

PS: The owner/operator of the hotel is fairly interesting herself. Check out
the staff's online diary in English, both for some funny insights into these
artsy people, and to get a feel for the place.
(Diary: http://www.andon.co.jp/topics/topics.cgi)


This week's Bargain Roundup searches for the cheapest night's stay in Tokyo.
Several hotels boast they provide it, so I'm going to round 'em up
and check it out!

The New Koyo, Tokyo Japan (www.newkoyo.jp)
"Hotel New Koyo is the cheapest hotel in Tokyo for travelers touring the
country on a limited budget," says the website - and indeed, the rooms
are cheap, at 2500 yen per night per person for a small single Japanese-style
room. According to the Andon staff (they are apparently sister hotels, though
the Andon more upmarket), these rooms are precisely "2-jo", or two tatami
mats large. That's about enough space for a 5-foot person to lie down in. Really,
the rooms are for sleeping only! A medium single is 2,700 yen. The hotel
has common bathrooms, showers, and a kitchen/lounge, as well as laundry
facilities available. One cute extra is the yellow shopping bikes available
for rental.

Tokyo International Youth Hostel (http://www.tokyo-yh.jp/eng/e_top.html)
In many cities, the youth hostel is almost always the cheapest option, but
not in Tokyo! However, TIYH has location, location, location. Located literally
atop Iidabashi station in the 18th and 19th floors of Central Plaza Building,
TYIH offers shared-dormitory style accomodations for 3,500 yen for adults, and
2,000 yen for children. Shared baths and showers are a given, as well as the
standard youth hostel curfew (10:30). You also cannot stay in the hotel
between the hours of 10:00AM-3:00 PM. If you're young, robust, and on a
budget, and like meeting new people and then sleeping in the same room
with them, this might be an option. Families are asked to inquire about
family rooms.

Hotel Villa Fontaine (www.villa-fontaine.co.jp)
This chain of hotel is definitely NOT the cheapest for single travelers,
but it does provide a very nice room at a reasonable price for couples
travelling together. With locations in Osaka's Shinsaibashi, Nihonbashi,
Hakozaki, Ueno, Otemachi, Hamamatsu-cho, Jinbo-cho, Roppongi, Tamaike,
and Kayaba-cho, you're bound to find a convenient spot. Villa Fontaine's
hotels are all faily new, clean, traditional hotel rooms with private
baths and toilets, double beds, and a free breakfast service. Some hotels
have Internet access. While single prices range from 8,925 yen to 9,450
yen on weekdays, and 10,550-11,500 yen for double-use (still cheap, but
not amazingly cheap), the real deal is the special "Otoku na Shumatsu Plan"
(Weekend Deal Plan) for all double-room type rooms for 8,925 yen PER ROOM
(with two people using it) on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, holidays,
and the day before holidays. At around 4,400 yen, that's only 1,000 yen
more than the youth hostel above. You get your own room, bathroom, and
shower, plus a free breakfast. Check the website above for locations, or
call 03-5339-1200 for reservations at the entire chain. While they do not
advertise Englishability, I saw plenty of foreigners there the last
time I stayed.

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"If you are staying long term in Tokyo (or anywhere for that matter), have
you considered a "weekly mansion"? These are smallish rooms (singles mostly,
though family-style rooms for couples or even four or more are available)
that include a "unit bath" (toilet/shower/bathtub combo), and a small mini
kitchen with a fridge, sink, and one burner. You get a table, wardrobe, bed
and TV also. These are great if you will be staying a week or more somewhere,
as the cheapest (read most out of the way) locations will be as low as around
25,000 yen for 7 nights, for a per-night stay of around 3,000-4,000 yen. I used
the following company: Weekly Mansion Tokyo www.wmt.co.jp. I also found the
places pretty foreigner friendly, with international phone-card vending
machines, English maps, and instructions in English. The bad part: you need
to place a 20,000-yen deposit that they apply to your overall bill. A bit cleaner
and more private than a gaijin house or guest house.
(From FrugalJapan.com)
Subscribers: 456 as of October 23, 2004


Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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