EMBLEM Hostel in Tokyo



Experience a Different Kind of Tokyo at EMBLEM Hostel


Nishiarai isn’t a typical tourist destination. While it does have some beautiful sights like Nishiarai Daishi Temple, this town in northern Tokyo is a world apart from Shibuya’s Scramble Crossing, Akihabara’s Electric Town, or other usual tourist hot spots. Yet travelers from overseas are flocking to EMBLEM Hostel, which opened in December 2015. To find out why, I paid a visit to the hostel and tagged along on one of the cultural experience programs they offer.

Affordable, comfortable accommodations

Dormitory-style room at EMBLEM Hostel
A dormitory-style room.

“I was looking for a very cheap hostel in the first place,” said Lennart, a young man from Germany I met at EMBLEM Hostel. A high school graduate, he was taking a gap year to travel the world before entering university. He had come to Japan from Thailand and was planning to spend seven nights in Tokyo. While he would never normally book a week at a hostel, he had heard good things about EMBLEM Hostel. “I was thinking of staying at capsule hotels for [1,000 yen] a night in the city. And then I heard about [EMBLEM] hostel... I researched a little bit, watched the YouTube videos, and decided to come."
Private double room at EMBLEM Hostel
A private double room.

Whether looking at online review sites or posts by vloggers, EMBLEM Hostel comes highly recommended. This is for good reason. The facilities at EMBLEM Hostel are something you’d expect from a hotel, but offered at the price of a hostel. They have three styles of room: dormitory; group/family ensuite dormitory; and ensuite private rooms that can sleep up to three people. Not only is the design of these rooms clean and sophisticated, every mattress is a Pocket Coil Mattress by American mattress brand Simmons. For me, this is a huge draw. I can sleep almost anywhere, but if given the choice, I would rather get a good night’s sleep on a comfortable bed and be well-rested for enjoying my trip.
Bathroom of a private at EMBLEM Hostel
Private rooms have their own bathrooms.

Great spaces for relaxing and socializing

Restaurant and Bar at EMBLEM Hostel

A complaint I hear from travelers staying in hostels (especially those on the cheaper end) is that they lack comfortable common spaces. You’re either in your little capsule or out in the city; there’s no good in between space for socializing while enjoying a little downtime.
Not at EMBLEM Hostel, though. There are two great spaces for guests to relax. The first one is the hostel’s restaurant and bar. They offer three meals a day (breakfast for staying guests only) with cafe hours between 11:30am and 6:00pm. If you're not sure what to order, the hamburger is said to be delicious. The restaurant and bar is also the location of certain activities such as language exchange nights when local residents come to chat with the guests of the hostel.

Another point to note about the restaurant: they offer a little sake tasting course at a super reasonable price (three types for just 300 yen!) as well as a selection of local Japanese beers.
Try sake tasting at EMBLEM Hostel
Enjoy a little sake tasting on the cheap.

A communal lounge space on the 3rd floor of the hostel is a place where guests can chill on a long couch or bean bag chairs, or stretch out on tatami mats as they plan the next stage of their adventure or just relax.
Common space at EMBLEM Hostel
The lounge is a great place to stretch out and relax.

A simple kitchen, a bar counter, iMac computers, and a spacious deck with a Japanese-style garden round out the amenities in this space. The deck is great for hanging out on nice days; and because the hostel is located on a main street instead of a residential area, guests can chat outside until late at night without bothering local residents.

Other generous amenities available to guests include coin washers and dryers, a vending machine in the lounge, luggage storage, rental bikes, and free WiFi. Guests of the hostel can also use Anytime Fitness, the gym located on the first floor of the building, at a reduced rate.

Cultural Experiences

Cultural workshops are also offered at  EMBLEM Hostel
You can check out what experiences are going on with a glance at the bulletin board across from the reception desk.

EMBLEM Hostel offers a variety of cultural workshops and experiences for their guests. These take place either in the hostel’s restaurant, lounge area, or around the neighborhood. The experiences available cover a variety of genres from low key events like movie night in the lounge to observing a sumo wrestling practice. I got to tag along on a sushi making experience with three young men from Germany-- Lennart, Timm-Frederick, and Simon-- who had met each other at the hostel.
Sushi making lesson through EMBLEM Hostel
Our travelers learn about sushi making from a local sushi chef. 

The sushi experience took place in a small, independently owned sushi restaurant right in the neighborhood of the hostel. While hostel staff attends the class to provide translation, the earnestness with which the sushi chef and his wife communicate with the hostel guests through simple English was utterly endearing.
Sushi making lessons in Tokyo through EMBLEM Hostel
Participants tried making three styles of sushi: roll sushi, nigiri sushi, and gunkan maki.

One of the participants in the class, Timm-Fredrick, works as a chef at a Japanese restaurant in Switzerland. “It’s really cool that he lets us into his kitchen,” he said. In his experience, most sushi chefs don’t normally allow visitors into their kitchens so easily. “You have to earn it,” he says. “And even if they let you in, you usually only get to watch."
Sushi Making Experience at EMBLEM Hostel
Finished! Time to eat!
As we ate our sushi, we shared our travel experiences with each other, giving and receiving ideas and tips about where to go. Through the hostel staff’s translation, the participants were also able to talk with the sushi chef and learn more about him and his trade.
Learn to make sushi from a local chef at EMBLEM Hostel in Tokyo
Hostel staff (down right and down left) and the sushi chef's wife (center; wearing a blue shirt) pose with the participants.

Experiencing a "local's-only" side of Tokyo

Nishiarai, Tokyo, Japan
The street view from outside the hostel. The low hanging power lines and people riding on bicycles are part of typical Tokyo scenery.

Scenes like this are illustrative of the hostel’s core concept: travel to meet. The hostel and the programs it offers provide the opportunity to meet fellow travelers as well as local residents of Nishiarai, a very down-to-earth area of Tokyo that would, in all likelihood, go missed if not for the hostel. And should you feel like venturing further afield, EMBLEM Hostel is only 15~20 minutes by public transit from popular spots like Ueno, Akihabara, Asakusa, and Tokyo SKY TREE.
A map of what to do in Nishiarai, Tokyo
A map in the lobby points out attractions nearby the hostel like restaurants and sento (public bathhouses) that permit guests with tattoos.

Although admittedly a little far from central Tokyo, the cleanliness of the facilities, communal spaces, and cultural programs on offer make EMBLEM Hostel an extremely attractive stay option for Tokyo travelers.
The staff of EMBLEM Hostel in Tokyo
Photos of the friendly staff waiting to welcome you to EMBLEM Hostel.


Address: 3-33-6 Umejima, Adachi-ku, Tokyo
Beds in dormitory style rooms start from 3,000 yen per night
Private double or twin rooms start from 10,000 yen per night
Access: 1 min walk from the East Exit of Nishiarai Station (Tobu Skytree and Tobu Daishi Line)

Liked this story? Like DiGJAPAN!
on Facebook for daily updates!