【Final result presentation】 2014 JBL Guesthouse Award in Japan !

[ Overall evaluation]
The number of the guesthouses, hostels, and backpackers (all collectively called guesthouses from below) that were on the list has reached 455, the largest ever. Also, 127 guesthouses have got a good enough popularity from the guests and nominated for the first order, which is also the highest number since it’s started. 
A number of big guesthouses have opened and a half of which are climbed aboard by other industries. It seems as if they aimed for the Tokyo Olympic in 2020. Nevertheless, many “micro” guesthouses whose capacity is less than 20 beds have opened, too. Indeed many of them are run by the experienced guesthouse owners as their second brunch. They’re seen through Tohoku to Kyushu area, and I’d say this is this year’s character; more owners have a little second brunch.
More young people seem as if they think of opening a guesthouse to start their first business with. Also some famous guesthouse owners don’t like to have many hostels but support to establish a new guesthouse, like giving seminars to those future owners.
Guesthouses are no longer used as only where to sleep but now having many roles. Lately various types of guesthouses are seen such as multipurpose guesthouses and compound guesthouses. They offer a part of their precinct to be used for areal events depending on where it is. 
Since the Olympic is confirmed, the Japanese government’s making a great effort to get more tourists from overseas and has made it easy for the Asians to get a tourist visa. It increased LCC demand, and also the yen still keeps weakening. Those made such a good occasion to have foreign guests into Japan. 
There’re not enough inexpensive and English available accommodation everywhere in Japan, and surely we need more. There’ll be lots of guesthouses opening next year, too.
(JBL representative Michihiro Mukai)
[ Overall Grand Prize ]
Khaosan World Asakusa Ryokan&Hostel - http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/world/
Although it’s said micro guesthouses have got much popular at this 5th JBL Award, this big hostel won the Grand Prize. People rated it pretty high at its brilliant facilities and great hospitality. It offers various events to connect the guests with locals, which should be noted.
This building used to be a love hotel which was built during the bubble economy cost enormous fortune. They found it Japan’s precious cultural property and kept the building’s ancestor as much as they could, but also renovated a little in a world trendy way, which got a high credit from all the guests especially ones from overseas.
Fortuitously, the film called ‘Love Hotel' directed by Phillip Cox and Hikaru Toda is screened in London early this year, and it’s about a love hotel as Japan’s original culture. The Daily Telegraph collects many tributes for its interesting concept. 
No other guesthouse in Japan but Khaosan World can be called "Poshtel", means an excellent accommodation which is better than ones called hostels.
Unburnable materials are used at many parts when it's renovated, as they believe that 'Hostels are where the travelers spend most of their journeys.' All the visitors need to feel safe being there. Also, nowadays Security is considered as the most important point when the hostels are rated on the websites or when people look for where to stay. At this hostel, the security camera video will be kept sending to the CEO's private smart phone until the fire truck, the police, or the security firm arrives there in case of fire. They're always ready for any emergency.
From those various points, it's already introduced in both domestic and international newspapers and TV programs. It plays a big role to encourage the Japan's hostels to get more visibility.
[ Overall Award for Excellence ] (in random order)
The top guesthouse in Hokkaido prefecture. You'll enjoy the seasonal nature which Hokkaido itself has, thanks to this excellent location. A cozy cafe is attached. Many guests like the owner’s lifestyle working here in a beautiful nature.
・International Hostel Khaosan Sapporo - http://khaosan-sapporo.com/en/
It has become one of the most famous guesthouses in Sapporo city within a year since it started. The super large common room has a Japanese style table with an electric heater (Sapporo city can get very cold in winter), and it encourages the guests to start a Nabe party!
・Guesthouse Mintaro Hut - http://mintarohut.com/english.html
The top in Tohoku area. Some say it’s the best micro guesthouse in Japan. The building is old Japanese style, and its hospitality is highly rated.
・Tokyo Hikari Guesthouse - http://tokyohikari-gh.jimdo.com/home/
It’s now so popular that it's hard to book. It’s run by a couple whose atmosphere makes you at home. The design is mix of retro and modern, loved by the women fans.
'Here's nothing special but absolute comfort for the guests.' It gathers the tourists from all over Japan, Europe, America, and Asia. Popular especially amongst women.
・Khaosan Tokyo Origami - http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/origami/
The newest brunch by Khaosan. There's an exhibition hall beside the reception on the first floor, shows the Japanese traditional items. An absolutely beautiful Asakusa night view can be seen from the common space on the top floor.
・Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki - http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/kabuki/
It won the Overall Grand Prize last year. Great location. The staffs are always welcoming and have a high hospitality. It could have got another Grand Prize if there hadn't been Khaosan World?
・Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory - http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/laboratory/
It altered the concept that first set, a hostel for female, and now it gathers the tourists from Asia to the world. Any secrets to get such a good rate? You'll see when you stay here.
It's designed in the motif of Ninja as it's called so. Walkable to Akihabara, has a good access to transportation. People stay here not only for holiday but business trip and job hunting.
It's awarded as the Grand Prize twice before and is the most famous world recognizable small guesthouse in Japan. The building is only one traditional old Japanese style in Tokyo. The reception/bar style has spreaded through the entire guesthouse seen.
・Nui. HOSTEL & BAR LOUNGE - http://backpackersjapan.co.jp/nui_en/
Guesthouse toco.'s second brunch. The various events such as a music concert and a little market are held at the handsome cafe&bar lounge on the first floor. This style is also spreading through Japan.
・Oak Hostel Zen - http://oakhostel.com/
Near JR Uguisudani station. The building used to be the NTT training centre/accommodation for the trainees and now is fashionably renovated. Oak, which originally is a firm produces sharehouse business, started hostels after hotels. The second brunch is going to open in next February. A big guest will be at the party?
・1night1980hostel - http://www.1980stay.com/
It originally targets businessmen but soon it's recognised by backpackers. It now has 128 beds as two new stories were added but still it gets full on the weekends.
The best hostel to go and see “the snow monkeys”.It's located in Suzaka city, Nagano prefecture. It's old Japanese style and once used as a silkworm factory. The owner's welcoming attitude attracts the domestic and international travelers. 
・Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS - http://compass-kyoto.jp/en/index.html
The highest rated micro guesthouse in Kyoto although it's new and located in the biggest tourist area. Every single one who stays here wish to return because of the owner's great hospitality.
・Gion Ryokan Q-beh - http://ryokankyoto.jp/
The historical Japanese-style restaurant is reborn as a Ryokan with dormitories. It wins the admiration of the guest service from especially foreign guests. Of course it welcomes Japanese, too.
・Khaosan Kyoto Guesthouse - http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/kyoto/
You'll feel Kyoto not only as a tourist area but also somewhere local as it's good location. The front desk has all the information and maps the guests need. The common room includes Tatami floor and it holds many events that you can experience the Japanese culture.
・Khaosan Kyoto Theater - http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/theater/
You'll experience Kyoto through many parts in this hostel. As it's named so, a little theatre is attached which introduces Kyoto's traditional culture and also helps the guests to touch some local aspects. The bar increases its popularity, too.
・PIECE HOSTEL KYOTO - http://www.piecehostel.com/
It's located right near JR Kyoto station. It has a large common space and dazzling bar on the first floor, several balconies, and a terrace on the top floor. The guests love free breakfast. It's popular among all the backpackers.
・Guesthouse Kazariya - http://kazari-ya.com/index-e.html
It's targeting women as the owner found it hard to travel in Kyoto when she did it alone. The only dormitory is for female. The private room can be stayed by a couple or male. 
・Sim's Cozy Guesthouse Kyoto - http://www.simscozy.com/
Many Japanese backpackers must have stayed at its first brunch called Guesthouse Sim's in Chengdu, China. It's run by a couple, a HongKongnese husband and a Japanese wife. It took two years to open it, cooperated by the guests who liked the first brunch.
・Osaka Hana Hostel - http://osaka.hanahostel.com/
The top hostel in Osaka, a high brand by J-Hoppers. No other hostels can facilitate like here; the guests can be anyone, families, backpackers, etc. You can bring little kids here with you. The beds in the dormitory are pretty large. 2 mins on foot from Shinsaibashi station, the core of Osaka city.
・Drop Inn Osaka - http://www.dropinn-osaka.com/
It's become one of the popular hostels soon it opened. The beautiful constructions and decorated interiors produce the popularity. The staffs are helpful as they've experienced backpackers.
・Koyasan Guesthouse Kokuu - http://koyasanguesthouse.com/en/
It's popular at any age due to its relaxing atmosphere. The newly-erected guesthouse has created a unique dormitory space. The owner is a DJ and makes a nice mood.
・Ise Guesthouse Kazami - http://ise-guesthouse.com/en/
It has won the Grand Prize twice. It's influenced by the Japanese original guesthouse Gekkousou in Naha, Okinawa. It declares the owner's lifestyle, and welcomes from young backpackers to experienced travelers.
・Okayama Guesthouse KAMP - http://kamp.jp/?lang=en
It's mainly made to hold events such as a concert and a talk show. The facilities are so good that people say it's the best place to have any events. It's now a core of the culture and art in west Japan.
・Cuore Kurashiki - http://www.bs-cuore.com/
The largest multipurpose guesthouse and also a centre of aesthetic area in Kurashiki city. The private rooms have a relaxing atmosphere that makes you at home. The cafe&bar is also highly rated.
It's established even more presence lately. It's in the middle of beautiful nature and encourages macrobiotic food. Who valuated it as a business model was actually African, and the inspection party visits there every year.
・Guesthouse Wakabaya - http://wakabaya.main.jp/en/
Although it's pretty new, this clean and facilitated guesthouse has become popular. The old timbers that were used when it's renovated makes a calm atmosphere. The best place to travel to Shikoku area and Setouchi area from. The cyclists love the bathroom with a bathtub.
The top rated hostel in Hana Hostel group. The Carp, the local baseball team, fans like it too. The cozy living room helps the guests to start conversations, which is the part that the foreign guests like the most.
・Hiroshima Guesthouse roku - http://roku-hostel.com/
The highlighted guesthouse in 2014, won the jury's special award. It might be way greater in the future. The guesthouse itself can be a main purpose to visit Hiroshima.(Read more about it at below.)
・Hagi Guesthouse ruco - http://guesthouse-ruco.com/?page_id=329
People could never expect that there would be such a outstanding place in Hagi city, Yamaguchi prefecture. A pro photographer and a movie director were touched here and recommended it on Twitter. Its warm atmosphere and friendly staffs causes it to get more repeat guests.
・Hakata Gofukumachi Hostel Takataniya - http://takataniya.com/English/index.html
It's popular among Japanese and Westerners but especially Asians. It's well organised for tourists and a bar attached in a common room plays a good role to gather people there.
・Fukuoka Hana Hostel- http://fukuoka.hanahostel.com/
The large beds in a dormitory comfort the tired travelers. The bunk beds are so concrete that can never be shaken. One of the few hostels where you can bring your children with you.
・Spa Hostel Khaosan Beppu - http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/beppu/
Whatever you do in Beppu city, its location is just perfect. There're a bathroom and a footbath whose water is flowing directly from the hot spring source, which is available all day long. It's more than worth paying for.
・Guesthouse Utojuku - http://gotogo.jp/index_e.html
It's getting break through in Goshima islands, Nagasaki prefecture. The owner makes the calm mood that gathers the tourists into the guesthouse. Some say its futon is the most comfortable ever that you sleep on. The guests appreciate it for being here.
・Nagasaki Kagamiya - http://www.n-kagamiya.com/en/
You can try Yukata and antique Kimono here which is attractive to especially Taiwanese girls. Now it's becoming famous through Japanese and Westerners, too. The price is pretty low and it's counted as a good point.
All above: 37 guesthouses
It really was hard to say which was better this year because lots of guesthouses have reached at a very high level. 37 have been chosen this time, even though 25 were planned to be listed.
[ JBL jury's special Award ]
・Hiroshima Guesthouse roku - http://roku-hostel.com/
The most popular guesthouse in all the small ones in Japan. We don't often see such a good place like here, where you feel even happy being here that both the guests and visitors create a fancy and nice atmosphere. Many guests wish to stay longer than they've planned because of the owner's great hospitality.
A micro guesthouse often is opened by the original owner's thought, but once it started, the guesthouse itself becomes a living thing. After all, the common space and a bar play the most important roles, and the owners and staffs need to have control over those two parts without letting the visitors know. A good guesthouse means good owners, good staffs and good guests.
'I'm certainly sure that roku is becoming the best guesthouse in Hiroshima at both aspects of its construction and hospitality. I sometimes hear the guests say "This is the best hostel ever!", and I'd say, yes it's true. I believe our guesthouse is going the best in Japan if we go forward at this pace.' says the staff.
It doesn't take so long to gather attractive people from all over the world. There's a guesthouse which has reached at the best level in Japan within a year since it opened. Roku could be the one.
[ The Award of Contribution For Local Community ]
[ Grand Prize ]
Not only the fans but other guesthouse owners keep returning here. A pastry chef works at a hotel in Hakuba often comes down here to take a rest. If there hadn't been Kura, they wouldn't have even come to Suzaka.
A hot-water bag is put in your bed to keep you warm at cold night, but still the travelers stay in a living room to have a chat. The locals always come one after another. When the foreign guests got lost on their way, they will be brought by the locals here, say "I don't know much English but they must have been looking for Kura." Some guests plan to see the snow monkeys on the following day...
They'll be asked "Are you staying at Kura?" when they go to have dinner. Kura does nothing really special to encourage connection with local community. It just does its job as a guesthouse each day and all the little details let every single one fall in love with this place. The people who live here are pretty peaceful and slow-paced, like they have "Suzaka time", but here's "Kura time", even calmer.
It's run by the woman owner and her mother. You'll see how important role it plays in the town if you come to Suzaka.
[ Outstanding Performance Award ]  (in random order)
・Ise Guesthouse Kazami - http://ise-guesthouse.com/en/
・Guesthouse UTOJUKU - http://gotogo.jp/index_e.html
・Koyasan Guesthouse Kokuu - http://koyasanguesthouse.com/en/
・Khaosan Kyoto Guesthouse - http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/kyoto/ 
・Okayama Guesthouse KAMP - http://kamp.jp/?lang=en
・Kurashiki Guesthouse U-Rin-An - http://www.u-rin.com/english/ 
[ Hostels for famel travellers ]
[Grand prize]
・Guesthouse Kazariya - http://kazari-ya.com/index-e.html
- got two straight championships/Outstanding Performance Award
It wins great support from female travelers. This Kyoto damsel guesthouse is constantly highly rated. The second brunch Tsukiya has been established this year.
The owner have travelled in Kyoto alone and thought "There should be a cheap hostel that a girl can feel safe to stay!" She trained to be an owner for a while and finally Kazariya's opened. The Japanese old-fashion building once was a pharmacy. She's also an artist herself and the guesthouse's details are beautiful so girls would like them. 
A tea salon is newly built and it increases its own exotic mood. If you're with more people, you can stay at a private room cheaper.
[ Outstanding Performance Award ]
・Nagasaki Kagamiya - http://www.n-kagamiya.com/en/
・Tokyo Hikari Guesthouse - http://tokyohikari-gh.jimdo.com/home/
455 guesthouses have been listed, 127 of which are nominated for the first order, 68 of which are nominated for the second order.
Congratulations to the guesthouses above for winning the each award.
(Translator : Mana Nakasugi)
Japan Backpackers Link 2014年12月31日 01:44 PM
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