Entry Info

14th (Tue)
Sep 2010

[day125] The Cheap Japanese Hostel in Istanbul

The bridge between Asia and Europe is literally Istanbul extending on both side of the Bosporus. Although I'd considered paying a visit to Pamukkale, a famous resort for the hanging limestone and the hot spring spas, I decided to head for Istanbul with Shin and Tomoko as I wanted to stay at an urban city rather than a remote touristic site. After 10 hours sitting on the night bus, we were very excited to see the spires of the huge mosques, which is arguably the touristic symbol of the city.

Istanbul is divided into the Asian side and the European side by the Bosporus and many tourist attractions are concentrated at the old town located at the south part of European side separated by a small inlet, the Golden Horn. The northern part of the European side is regarded as the new town with modern buildings and shopping streets. Since I'd been looking forward to staying in this city, I'd booked the accommodation 5 nights in each area; that is 10 nights in total. However as I arrived earlier than the original plan, I needed to find bridging accommodation and I decided to stay at a (in)famous hostel Tree of Life mainly targeting the Japanese budget travellers in the Middle East.

Just 10 minutes on foot from the Blue Mosque, Tree of Life is on the top floors of a multi tenanted building located at the back of the main street in which the tram is operating. Climbing up to the 4th floor by stairs, we reached the reception and it was the classic example of a Japanese hostel. There were dozens of Japanese travel guides and comics on the bookshelves and whenever I called into a room somebody was reading those books and smoking cigarettes. Incidentally, the staff working there was not the proper employee of the hostel but a long term resident who bartered his accommodation fee (and a bit of daily allowance) for the post of caretaker. According to him, the owner lives in a different place and come to the hostel occasionally. Despite the gray colour in legal terms, it's an absolutely win-win solution for the budget travellers who want to reduce their daily expenses and the owner who wants to reduce the personnel expenses. It could be an exemplary business model.

The biggest attraction of the hostel is its price; only 8 EUR per night is one of the cheapest in Istanbul (For your info, the hostels I booked by hostelworld cost 15 EUR per night). What's more, cooking the meals with the other Japanese travellers would reduce the food expenses significantly. I can recommend this hostel as the best for the budget travellers needing to make their expenses as low as possible. Besides, there are piles of Japanese travel books and by luck you could possibly meet the people who have traveled the actual place you intend to go. This hostel is very suitable for making your travel plans.

Nevertheless, I have to tell the truth that it was not my taste. I'm afraid of speaking ill but the atmosphere was quite dingy. The people staying there looked in a way very typical Japanese travellers who had become tired of their life and escaped from Japan. At Seven Heaven of Dahab, I met a lot of Japanese but most of them were totally fascinated with scuba diving and even none divers looked enjoying their own lives. In contrast, the people at Tree of Life, they talked like this "Uh, I feel bored. What am I doing today?" They can find so many interesting things around them! Yet they are actually very nice people and our communication was very smooth. I suppose we know how to talk in Japanese manner pretty much. Besides, one more thing I should mention is the hostel is not really clean. I know for the price I must not complain it but it looked very difficult to keep the hostel clean with only the amateur caretaker.

I have to emphasize this again; it was just not my taste. If you seek for other Japanese travellers and information (providing you speak Japanese of course), you should at least consider staying at Tree of Life. Speaking for myself, I was positively trapped by the Japanese famous comic series and couldn't go to the bed until I finished them all after 4:00 a.m. It may sound bizarre, coming to such a far city from Japan yet I was absorbed in reading Japanese comics. But I reckon it was the life in a Japanese hostel abroad.

Well, I'd like to introduce the hostels I booked by hostel world too. But it takes long again and therefore to be continued. I'll write about my tips on hostelworld too on the next entry.

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11:22 15th Sep 2010


Jaime said:

Great post! Quesiton: Would I be able to stay there even though I am not Japanese? It seems like such a great Hostel~

11:32 17th Sep 2010


satoshi said:

Unless you can speak Japanese, it all depends on the caretaker. If he/she thinks it’s interesting idea to let you in, he does. But some Japanese prefer being in a genuine Japanese group. They are not racists but just shy to speak in their poor English.
If you are still interested in this hostel, I can send you the map.

11:27 18th Sep 2010


しんとも said:





03:27 19th Sep 2010


satoshi said:

>しんとも さん

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