Buggers Travel Japan 2014: U-En (由苑) Guesthouse, Osaka


When travelling on a budget, one of the most pressing issues is to find an inexpensive place to lay our head at night for the duration of our trip. The place has to be conducive, have a proper, functioning toilet, not have leaky ceilings or paper-thin walls and have WiFi. Oh yes, WiFi is very important for social media addicts like the Buggers. Trust me on this.

So during our stop in Osaka, we booked a couple of rooms at U-En Guesthouse, located just a stone's throw (it's one helluva throw) away from the central Osaka Station. It was recommended to us by a friend of a friend of a friend, whose cousin's brother stayed there before. So yeah, we had close to no information about the place other than a brief one-line description of how, and I quote "amazing and awesome" the place was.

Because I am a lazy Bugger (that's literally my nature among the Buggers), I didn't even bother to check out the rooms or the place we would be staying at for our entire stay at Osaka. Sure I put in the reservations and briefly scrolled through the pictures, but I didn't really analyze or do my research on the guesthouse, which any traveler would tell you should be Rule #2 in choosing accommodations.

Imagine our surprise when we stumbled into U-En Guesthouse after 20 minutes of walking around in the cold (again because of my lack of research and preparation) and found it to be...warm. Literally and figuratively speaking because it was really cold and U-En had a centralized heater system. That was the first sign that our stay at U-En Guesthouse was going to be amazing.

U-En Guesthouse is a small, cozy little place hidden in the deep crevices of Fukushima, with fairly traditional Japanese restaurants lined up along the road leading to the guesthouse. It's quite difficult to find without directions but you'll be slapping yourself (just like how I did to Bugger Marcus) for how easily accessible it is once you've found it.

The first person who greeted us at the check-in counter was Ms. Sanae, and I will be referring to her as such from now on. With her impeccable English, she helped us check into our rooms 3 hours earlier than check-in time, gave us a full tour of the place and even introduced us to a nearby waffle place by the riverside. She also helped me set up my 4G mobile data (for all that Internet goodness) when no one else in Japan dared to. In this light, I see Ms Sanae as both a guiding light and a true lifesaver; a living testament to how the staff of U-En Guesthouse treat their guests.

 The single men's room was surprisingly comfortable, with mattresses and blankets all prepared to make a cozy room even cozier. I will reiterate this fact constantly throughout all my Japan blog posts: I freaking love sleeping on the tatami floor.

Once I get permission from my parents (or move out, whichever comes first), I will not buy a bed because beds are basically springy cupboards. I will deck my room with tatami floors, buy a mattress and have infinite happiness. Just like my entire time at U-En Guesthouse.

The rest of the guesthouse was pretty standard fare...EXCEPT FOR THEIR FREAKING SWING SEAT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COMMON AREA. The swing seat was roped onto a piece of wood that dates back to the late 1900s. That's a piece of wood that is older than 3 generations of my family. And they hung a swing seat from it like it was no big deal.

Oh yes, speaking of the common area, the place was a fantastic hangout spot. They had these awesome mind games that made chess look like child's play; games like 3D tic tac toe and the ever popular Jenga tower.

There was an adjoining kitchen so that people who want to save money on eating out can just cook their own food. One of the best things about the common area was the guests who hung out there frequently. People from all over the world; France, China, Indonesia, Germany and several others who would flit in and out with a quick smile and hello. It was a melding pot of cultural exchanges, marred only by eyes darting to their own Macbooks.

AND THEIR TOILETS HAD SOME PRETTY STATE OF THE ART JAPANESE TOILETS INSTALLED. I literally gave myself excuses to just sit on the toilet and mull over my life decisions, like how long I would be sitting upon the throne of glory that is the Japanese toilet before the Buggers started a search and rescue party.

If you ever decide to drop by Osaka for a few days, why not go to U-En Guesthouse and stay there? It'll be the best experience of your life, trust me.

Prepare yourself for the onslaught of polite helpfulness you can expect from a truly Japanese guesthouse, and leave with that warm, fuzzy feeling. Go stalk U-En Guesthouse on their Facebook or their website (http://u-en.hostelosaka.com/index_en.html).


P.S: Hi Ms Sanae, if you're reading this! 

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