Enishiya Guesthouse reminded me very much of the European social hostels that I used to stay in when I was backpacking as an exchange student two years ago. It is located in a residential building, the structure of the unit and its cozy interior makes one feel very at home. The location was also so convenient that during my stay, I didn’t use public transport much. It is an easy walk to Tanukikoji shopping arcade and the Susukino area. Eight minutes away is Nakajimakoen, known for its park with delightful autumn hues that is ripe for exploring.
To people familiar with traveling in Sapporo, Enishiya needs no extra introduction. It has appeared in a TV show and also in a guidebook to Sapporo. Yuki-san, the manager of Enishiya, also loves to travel and therefore shares the minds of travelers. She is always ready to recommend great places to go in Sapporo, so do ask her to recommend amazing food, as there are plenty in the area.
The dorms are split into male and female rooms with separate bathrooms. For female travelers, this certainly brings peace of mind.
Having stayed in many hostels before, I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of Yuki-san as can be seen from the little amenities provided. There was a little basket next to the pillow for the user to put his/her valuables. There is a curtained area to shield light from outside of the bed, making it easier to sleep when the others are still up and about. Lastly, each traveler has 3 power points available, which certainly is a godsend.
Just like any backpacker hostel, Enishiya has a wall displaying brochures of other guesthouses in Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto, and other cities, which is certainly most useful if you are traveling around Japan.
My favorite part of staying in the Enishiya guesthouse has got to be the racks of travel books available. Even if you have not done any research on places to go in Sapporo, you can certainly find some inspiration from the guidebooks available. I spent a long time looking through the one that detailed interesting cafes in Sapporo.
Apart from travel magazines, the living room also has snacks and interesting manga that encourage travelers to socialize in the living room.
Every night, Yuki-san will sit in the living room sometimes having her dinner or drinking a little sake, but always watching the TV and having a good laugh. If you’re looking to improve your Japanese or speak with a local, here is your chance! Yuki-san also sells beer and other drinks at a small fee. Although the check-in procedures are done in proper keigo, Yuki-san quickly loses it to speak in casual, improper Japanese suitable for friends. Since Yuki-san was always there, travelers often come home saying "tadaima" (I'm home) and met with a sweet "okaeri!" (Welcome home!) It really made me feel completely at home.
A word of caution for light sleepers, however. Due to the proximity of other travelers sleeping in the same room and also the thinness of the walls, the noises made by other travelers seem to be magnified. Arm yourself with earplugs and you should have a good night’s sleep!
Enishiya Guesthouse gets an overall 5 stars from me. I would not hesitate to stay here again if I return to Sapporo. It is particularly suitable for lone travelers as you make friends quickly too.