Sadou Hostel sets the standard for affordable travel accommodations with its revolutionary hostel in the culturally rich area of Ueno.

The stacked beds design seems to have been inspired by popular capsule hotels. However, they are surprisingly spacious and stylish. The welcoming atmosphere throughout the entire establishment can immediately be felt thanks to the open space and cozy dormitories which feel both familiar and uniquely Japanese.For example, a traditional Japanese lantern-like lamp is attached within the sleeping space. Not only do they have shower booths, but also bathtubs are available in single room’s toilet. Sadou Hostel is conveniently located in the Ueno area within walking distance of some of Tokyo’s greatest shitamachi (small local towns full of charm). You won’t have to travel far to see many of Tokyo’s local, iconic views, but JR Okachimachi Station is right around the corner, making this a great launching point to explore Tokyo.

One of the most important aspects of Japanese culture is community. As a foreign visitor, it is difficult to fully grasp the significance of this concept in Japan, especially when spending your valuable time isolated in a typical hotel. The conveniently community space design provides staffs and guests to exchange valuable information.

The chalkboard on the wall, lovingly doodled upon by the friendly staff, lists plenty of great activities and seminars for guests to enjoy. Offering guided walking tours led by volunteers, Japanese cooking classes, and tea ceremonies, Sadou Hostel provides the quickest and easiest plans to get a deeper understanding and authentic experience about Japan in between your specific travel plans.

Through Sadou Hostel, I was able to experience the beauty and tranquility of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony from a real master. The cultural and aesthetic ritual of the Japanese tea ceremony is an art form which involves the preparation and serving of Japanese green tea, or matcha.  Though there are many styles of tea ceremonies, I participated in a special tea ceremony by candlelight called Yobanashi, a style which celebrates the long winter nights.

Upon crawling through the narrow entrance, each participant in the ceremony is made completely equal by kneeling down onto the tatami and moving through the doorway in the same manner. From distinguished samurai to humble servants, no one person more important than any of the others. This custom spiritually prepares the participants to leave all worries from the outside world behind and allows for a more peaceful atmosphere. From that point on, focusing on appreciating to the tea master, the beautifully crafted wall scrolls, and the delicious tea itself becomes much easier.

I was amazed by how smoothly and deliberately the matcha was prepared and served. Each intricate movement had a unique purpose whether it was serving sweets and tea, cleaning utensils, or pouring the hot water. If you can remember the main idea of respect, then many the methods of the tea ceremony are easy to understand. For example, the way the tea bowl, or chawan, is held in a way that allows everyone in the opportunity to see and appreciate the craftsmanship of the bowl. Though the many complex rules and movements may seem overwhelming, with some guidance, anyone can enjoy the quiet beauty of the Japanese tea ceremony. Even as a novice with hardly any prior knowledge of such things, I could feel at peace in the warmly lit tea room sipping matcha and eating delicious sweets.

As a mix of a hostel, hotel, and community space, Sadou Hostel is difficult to define. It stands out among other accommodations in Tokyo and reimagines the idea of hostel combining convenience and affordability with modern style and incredible service. The knowledge and experience that the volunteer guides provide of both Tokyo and Japanese culture is invaluable, and I highly recommend joining many lessons and tours like the tea ceremony.

Sadou Hostel
ADD:1-11-7 HIGASHIUENO, TAITO-KU, TOKYO
PHONE: +81-3-6284-2600
URL: www.sadouhostel.com

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