I can hear my kids saying “mom, it wasn’t a youth hostel, it was a guesthouse.”
Bunk beds? Check!
Shared bathroom? Check!
Guests under 25 with backpacks? Check!
We value our privacy in a big way. I wondered how we would manage shared space for a week. However we also knew that staying in a guesthouse would give us more visibility into Japanese culture than we’d ever learn on our own. And frankly, accommodations in Japan are pricey and our six nights at Kanazawa’s Pongyi guesthouse would help us right size our budget.
Sitting on the floor on thin cushions with guests from Singapore, Australia, Germany and Japan making paper cranes to take to a local shrine.
Gathered around for a Pocky (chocolate covered bread sticks) party with Pocky of all types…green tea Pocky anyone? Followed by a puppet show about the history of Kanazawa.
A guest from Tokyo exclaiming “it’s my holiday!” and grabbing a beer to have with his breakfast shortly before he went to the kitchen and whipped up an unexpected breakfast for us of noodles, eggs and green onions…it was delicious! The same man caught us headed to bed for the evening…in our hands, just used toothbrushes and toothpaste. In his hands, a bottle of sake and three sake glasses insisting on toasting our visit to Japan. How could we refuse? The next day he showed up with bags of must try Japanese candy for the children.
Our last evening, our host planned a Japanese menu that catered to our tastes (beef for Kyle, leeks for me, and fried chicken for the kids), took us shopping and showed us how to cook sukiyaki, a beef and vegetable dish. Sean and Julia set the table for nine and we sat down with guests from Singapore, Japan and France for a feast. As we ate, we learned more about each others cultures and our fondness for the Pongyi Guesthouse and its wonderfully warm and entertaining hosts, You and Maru, grew and grew.
Were there a few uncomfortable bathroom moments, shower waits, and slightly obnoxious guests? Yes, of course. But our level of understanding of the Japanese cultures accelerated during our week in Kanazawa. And lord did we have fun! It’s interesting to think that had our budget allowed, we would have stayed in a nice hotel with a private bathroom…quietly and sadly alone.