A visit to Japan's cheapest hotel - at Y500 a night
Located near the center of Osaka City is an area called Kamagasaki which was once known to be a gathering place for day laborers. Now, it’s a rather charming place where street cars run that kind of takes you back half a century. On the other hand, beneath the surface runs some violent energy as this area is often ground zero for riots and other acts of civil disobedience.
It’s here that I went in search of the cheapest hotel in Japan, The Kimiya, where it is said one could spend the night for a mere 500 yen.
Upon entering the area I noticed a plethora of plain looking hotels all offering low rates ranging from 1,500-2,000 yen per night. These “hotels” were once used to accommodate day laborers. However, as that form of employment declined, the buildings shifted to putting up budget conscious foreign travelers for the night.
■ Different Prices For Different Rooms
Feeling a little tense around these parts, I finally came across the hotel I was looking for. When I went to check in I was surprised to learn that there was actually a range of prices depending on the room you want. The rates for The Kimiya are as follows:
500 yen – No TV [This is the room I chose]
700 yen – With TV [This is the same size room but has a TV]
800 yen – With TV [A more spacious room than the others]
*Plus there is a karaoke machine that you can use for free
■ How to Check In
All you have to do is write your name and age down on a piece of paper like you would in a registry book. Then you pay the 500 yen and that’s it. Don’t let the casual price fool you though. You still need to take off your shoes before proceeding to your room. The hotel provides slippers for you to use. And so, I carried my shoes up the stairs, past the second floor, to the third floor where my 500 yen room was waiting.
■ Inside the 500 Yen Room
I passed through a dilapidated kitchen/dining area to get to my room. Not being able to find a light switch at first I panicked a little thinking that there wasn’t any electricity in the room. After getting my bearings I found it and got the lights on. The futon looked far from brand new and I couldn’t help but suspect it hadn’t been cleaned in a while. I might not recommend these rooms to people who are sensitive to smells either.
As you might have expected this hotel has a shared toilet. However, it was surprisingly well maintained and clean, perhaps the proprietor was a fan of Mr Kagiyama. Oddly there wasn’t any toilet paper. In its place there was a stack of some mysterious sheets of soft paper that I’ve never seen before.
■ You Can Get Good Reception
I could get a good signal on both my Softbank and Docomo phones so don’t worry about taking smartphones here… well, don’t worry about the reception at least. You can go in and out of the hotel easily and there’s a convenience store nearby. It’s also located near the major areas of Osaka. This area has a reputation of being rather seedy, but really everyone has a don’t-mess-with-me-I-won’t-mess-with-you attitude. Just don’t go around taking photos or videotaping dodgy places or people.
In conclusion, staying at the Kimiya is not for the faint of heart, and by going there you are making a clear choice of cost over comfort. However, it’s hardly the worst place in the world either, and even if this hotel is not your cup of tea, there are a whole lot of other dirt cheap establishments around it. All of these places are working to make themselves more accessible to tourists so it’d be worth your time to look into them if you’re planning to come to Osaka.