Asanami guest house in Shimoda, a beach shelter for hippie riders (review)
Our trip to Izu a few weeks ago was decided semi-spontaneously. It was snowing in Tokyo a few hours prior to our departure, but we took a risk and warmed up the engines. One thing couldn't be left to a chance though: A warm shower & bed (or futon) after a long and freezing ride. Main reason for choosing Shimoda as the final goal was knowing a trustworthy and flexible guest house in that region. Kazuto was touring to the same destination with friends exactly 2 years ago and I remember his message from the goal:
It is a life saver after a long trip and a great drinking place, but wouldn't exactly book it for a romantic date weekend.
Now I entirely understand what he meant. For the purpose of his blog, Kazuto concluded that there's no other way to rank the features but to call them "dead" or "alive", with either a 10 or a 0:
Mentioning this first, as it is spot-on! Asanami guest house is conveniently located by the side of the road that leads to Shimoda, right across a Buddhist shrine and a few meters from the beach.
As we arrived, we could hear the taiko drums, as the shrine often holds practices on Saturday nights. That was sweet!
From here, Cape Iro and Shimoda city are just a few riding minutes away. Nothing to add here, it can't get better that this!
Pictures taken from the guest house entrance: Across the street, there's a shrine to the left and the beach to the right.
You can park your bikes just in front of the guest house, by the side of the road. As always, bring your own cover and lock. It's safe and convenient, as you can just sit on the bike and drive off, and you literally need a second to park it again. Motorcycles will be safe at this spot, even though there's no roof or a bar to attach them to. Chance of parking damage is 0 to none.
Overnight we covered the bikes with a protective sheet. We could check them opening the window in the common area of the guest house (those sliding windows behind the wall).
0 doesn't mean a disappointment, it means that you shouldn't have any expectations. The owners of the guesthouse are easy-going world travelers who value stress-free life and just want to allow everyone to enjoy time in their own way. The equipment here is modest and comfortable, and you're expected to BYOB or whatever you might need. They provide comfortable shelter and a hot shower, and there's convenience store down the road (walking distance - 3mins).
It's a dormitory, not a hotel. Some people stay here longer, some leave within a day. That's why you have a lot of stuff lying around in the living room and shower. Someone's snacks and drinks, shampoos and razors. Of course the owners cannot throw them away immediately, not knowing who it belongs to. It's not dirty, but it's certainly not neat. There's a lot of dust (and sand from the beach) around the house and they also keep a kitty inside (they took in the lovely street cat Baa after her mother abandoned her). One night, the kitty stayed in our room with us and we loved it, but not sure everyone would. That night Kazuto discovered he's allergic to either cats or dust, which says something about this place - and also serves as a warning against booking it if you have one of those allergies.
It was not difficult to become BFFs with Baa. To prevent us from leaving, she stole our socks on the last day (and brought them back later), and she didn't want to move away from the motos upon our departure. We miss her and plan to visit her again soon.
10s for both beds and the guesthouse. Even though the amenities are modest, you will get a great rest at the guesthouse. Ground floor has dormitory-type shared rooms with bunk beds, and at the time of our visit, they were occupied by a bunch of cheerful Okinawan boys who came to Izu as seasonal workers and are staying here for a few months (all of them riders btw!). Upstairs are separate Japanese-style tatami rooms, with a wide variety of futons, blankets and pillows you can choose on your own. The guesthouse will provide clean sheets, which you can apply to whatever you choose to sneak into during the night. Air conditioning and extra heaters are provided throughout the guesthouse and the common area is great for chilling, especially in winter, as it has a kotatsu (heated low table with a blanket) that can take a large group (thus the perfect drinking place tag). You can connect your phone to the stereo system and enjoy the evening listening to your favorite songs.
It's a hippie lodging place that puts comfort before aesthetics. Many sofas, beanbags, kotatsu chairs, instruments, stuff hanging from the ceiling. The house is old and the rooms have the expected minimal equipment. You might not get inspired here, but you will get relaxed. Design fits it purpose and environment, but Kazuto says he cannot call it "alive".
Even though the owners were in Brazil at the time when we arrived, the service was beyond fabulous. A girl that occasionally helps in the guest house handled all communication and awaited us, even though we didn't give her our exact eta. She provided additional towels we asked for, prepared extra heater in our room, and as we sat by kotatsu with her, she got worried we'd get cold and even offered us some extra hoodies. We stayed in the common area with her and Baa (the kitty), enjoying conversation over drinks (and she even prepared some delicious fresh daikon and carrot snacks for us). The evening was very pleasant and we enjoyed her company and limitless hospitality. The guesthouse doesn't provide food, but there countless delicious restaurants just a short ride away. If you like seafood, you're in for a treat!
Hot shower 24/7 and selection of western and Japanese toilets is more that we could ask for, but still, since it's Japan: No washlet, no points. We're rating this one as "dead", even though both shower and toilets served the purpose well.
As we booked the place, we notified them that we might not be able to make it (in case of snow, we might
have to return or stay elsewhere). Rigorous cancellation policies aren't uncommon in Japan, but they didn't see any issue at all at this guesthouse. Shared showers could be used 24/7, which is also a rather uncommon practice in Japanese guesthouses. The only house policy is "act like it's your home".
After our room was cleaned up, we said goodbye to our host and got the bikes ready. Then we looked at each other, gazed at the beach, the road, the bikes, the guesthouse, the road, the bikes, the beach and Kazuto said: "Should we?". "Yes, can we?"
We decided to stop the world and stay another day (thanks to supportive people who were willing to help us with some duties of the following day - & special thanks to Suguru!). As we told our host about the decision, she seemed very haappy to keep us there another day, and gave us fresh sheets and towels (by that time, she just finished cleaning up our room). In other places, they probably wouldn't take extra work with such enthusiasm. She was extremely friendly and helpful!
2000 JPY per person per day. Nothing to add, it can't get cheaper than that.
Wonderful value for extremely low price. For a touring or surfing weekend, it can't get better than this. We'll visit Baa again this summer!
At the very end, we're adding the link to Asanami guest house website, as well as Kazuto's merciless accommodation rating response: