Trendy Tokyo Accommodations: Sake & Culture at Asakusa's Bunka Hostel (ブンカ ホステル東京) - Adventures of Anette

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Trendy Tokyo Accommodations: Sake & Culture at Asakusa's Bunka Hostel (ブンカ ホステル東京)

In the heart of Asakusa lies one of Tokyo's most stylish hostels called Bunka Hostel Tokyo. It is situated in a building that used to be a pachinko parlour, and the whole building has been renovated for the convenience of foreign travellers. The name of the hostel comes from the Japanese word Bunka (文化), or culture, and when you're inside the building you can feel the cultural mix between Japanese tradition and modernity. In addition to offering 128 beds for travellers looking for reasonable accommodation at a good location the property also has all the amenities and facilities needed to enjoy a comfortable stay in Tokyo included free 24-hour front desk, multilingual staff and free WiFi.
Entrance decorated with flowers
I went to Bunka Hostel for their grand opening reception on December 14th along with a couple of colleagues, and we were met by excited and friendly staff who were doing their utmost to ensure a successful reception. The lounge area was filled with guests; It had apparently been quite easy to attract people to come thanks to the property's exquisite style and convenient location, and we could meet a lot of interesting people in addition to the hostel's staff.

The reception desk with shelves symbolising Mt. Fuji in the background
The whole first floor is used as a cafe/Japanese style Izakaya, so guests can enjoy a drink or two here in the company of other travellers. You can actually enjoy your day/evening at the bar/cafe regardless of wether you spend the night here or not, but access to the guest floors is limited to guests only (see further down the page for information about rooms).
A globe at the reception desk
One of the main themes of the hostel is Japanese rice wine, sake, and Bunka Hostel has their own special variety of sake prepared for its guests. The taste is not that sharp, so it is especially a great chance for foreigners who haven't tried sake before because of its milde aftertaste. Instead of glasses we were given a square wooden box called masu (枡; see picture below) with sake in it, and the smell of wood added an extra dimension to the drink.

A pyramid of masu
One-cup Bunka Hostel sake & masu
Throughout the year there will also be a range of entertainment and activities prepared for Bunka Hostel's lucky visitors, such as for instance an event for making rice cake called mochitsuki (餅つき), and perhaps also activities the guests can participate in such as flower arrangement (生花, ikebana). There were also various forms of entertainment and performances at the opening reception, and the picture below shows some of the performance artists who are dancing around in the lounge. They also held a performance in the guest room area, which I've written more about below.
Performers wearing Japanese masks and dancing a sake dance
In addition to the more abstract entertainment there were also official speeches by the hotel's executives, and the traditional ceremony event Kagami Biraki (鏡開き). This word means "Opening the Mirror" and refers to the opening of a cask of Sake which often is a standard element at the opening day of Japanese companies. You can see a short video of the Kagami Biraki ceremony below.
Sake barrel used in the Kagami Biraki ceremony

Bunka Hostel has seven floors with both a female only floor, mixed floor and one exclusive family room. If you are fine with little space then the bunk bed rooms will provide you with the privacy you need to get a good rest in between all the sightseeing and fun in Tokyo.

Bunk beds
The 4th floor guest floors
One of the beds
For the opening at Bunka Hostel the guest floor was used as a base for abstract art by the performers, and they managed to enhance the charm of the different rooms through their creative displays. As you can see from the photos below, some of the rooms were occupied with mysterious "guests" where others simply were decorated with traditional Japanese objects.
One of the bunk beds decorated with a Japanese ornament
Performance artist playing with the light
Disco bed
An art performer in one of the rooms wearing a traditional mask
In addition to the guest rooms there is an available kitchen usable only by guest staying at Bunka Hostel. The kitchen doesn't have a stove but is equipped with a refrigerator and other necessary amenities such as a microwave oven and a toaster.

From the bathroom area
The hostel comes with shared bathroom for the people who stay in the bunk bed section. With a large number of toilet rooms and showers available it is likely that people will be able to use these facilities without having to worry about availability. For those who don't like to share common facilities with other guests it is however possible to rent the hostel's one and only exclusive family room where, in addition to more privacy, you'll have a great view of the Sky Tree from your bed.

Sky Tree seen from Bunka Hostel
Bunka Hostel Tokyo's Family Room

Asakusa is located in Taito ward, which is the most popular area in Tokyo for foreign tourists. Using this place as the base for your stay will grant you easy access to many of Tokyo's best tourist spots, including the Kaminari gate (雷門) which is only a couple of minutes away by foot. In the table below are some of the features you can get at Bunka Hostel.

The world-famous Kaminarimon

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who'd gladly trade a trip to the shoppingmall for a hike in the forest any day.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

The classical story about a girl who went for a one-year exchange program to Japan, fell in love and got stuck there. Starting out as a student in Kyoto in 2010 I now work full-time in Tokyo as a hotel consultant, and write mostly about my travels, working life in Japan as well as a bunch of random stuff.
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