This is my first time in Japan. In my first destination, Wakkanai, I stayed in a youth hostel.
Some people I know will simply roll their eyes when I mention youth hostels: “Surely you can afford better accommodation?” “Why are you subjecting yourself to hardship?” I honestly don’t think it’s hardship. In fact, if one is lucky, one might find a really nice hostel. It also doesn’t hurt to be a little bit more open-minded, and young at heart. One of my roommates is a trained nurse and midwife from Aomori prefecture. She’s also a mother of four and grandmother of three. The youthful spirit has no age limit.
As it turns out, I learned a thing or two about youth hostels in Japan. More of that in just a bit.
The reason why I chose this hostel: it’s near Wakkanai’s bus and ferry terminals. It turns out that this hostel actually feels more like a home than a hostel. For example you walk around without shoes. The dining/study area’s cosy wooded decor is complemented by a chestnut-coloured upright Yamaha piano. I’m not sure what the little card on the piano says. I decided not to embarrass myself, plus it was still early in the morning. The dining area looks into a well-equipped kitchen – alas I didn’t have a chance to try the meals as I was always out before breakfast time. The rooms have a futon on each bed, duvet and a sack of rice (I suspect) as pillow. Great attention to detail in the toilet and vanity area: handsewn toilet roll covers, hand towels that are changed daily, fresh towels for bath, mirrors lined with small handy notes. To all hostel proprietors out there – little details like these matter!
As this is my first time in Japan, it took me a while to figure out why the toilet (at least the female toilet) has a music note sign, and when you press on it, all you hear are sounds of flowing water, with the volume adjustable. No, it doesn’t actually activate any flow of water. It just simulates the sound of flowing water. Readers, would you care to guess why?
Another novelty for me was this:
The proprietor showed me the female changing room and wrote down the bath time for me. She kept emphasising that there will be no more bath after 10.30pm. Puzzled, I asked how about in the morning? “Oh, morning, shower ok,” and then she wrote down the shower time.
Later on I realised that she was referring to two different things, and bath really means BATH. The bathroom is a traditional shared bathroom with a little stool in front of each mirror and shower. And, there is a hot bath in the bathroom!
The hot bath would prove to be mightily useful after a long sunny day of exploring Rebun island.