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Journal: Youth Hostels

Note: This Journal entry was written on September 24, 2001, as I walked on the Old Tokaido. Take a look at that day's Logbook for more.


Well, it's official: I'm old.

When I checked into the youth hostel today, I joined an association in order to receive a discount. And on my membership card, in black-and-white, for all the world to see, the category I belong to is: "Senior." Now Chie, the nice girl who signed me up, says anything over 19 is "senior." "NINETY!" I cried. "No, no," she says, "nine-TEEN." Kidding, says I.

Anyway, I want to say a word on behalf of the hostel.

I'm sure there are people just down the hill paying more than double for a room at this very moment. But what have they got that I ain't got?

For the first time on this trip (besides my friends' houses) there are laundry facilities right in the building. I have a spacious room (sleeps eight, but tonight it's all for me). The bath is large and luxurious. There's a western style toilet. And as my friend Tom mentioned back in Kamakura, conversation is readily at hand. Usually in simple English or my (bad) Japanese, but conversation nonetheless. Other hostellers have helped me decipher some of the signs I've seen along the way, and made suggestions for my website. This kind of exchange of information doesn't happen in a business hotel, or even a ryokan--unless, perhaps, you take your meals there.

Oh, yeah, meals are available here, for an added price. But as a vegetarian, I usually don't try to go for these group meals (at hostels and ryokans) because it's usually either frustrating for me or frustrating for the staff. It's easier on everyone if I graze at the convenience store.

Now, the clincher: I'm in a more-or-less tourist area, near Lake Hamanako. It's Autumn, a prime season for traveling. The floor I'm on in the building sleeps--by my estimate--over 60 people. And how many are here? Three.

C'mon, folks, we gotta use these things, or they're gonna shut 'em down.

Posted September 30, 2019

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