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Ryokan Sawanoya
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Reviewed 22 March 2014

I absolutely loved this place! My brother and I stayed here for a week while we toured Tokyo, and this place was definitely my home away from home. Most of our time here was spent winding down after a long day, and waking up the best way possible. Please note that if you are a tall person that is easily annoyed by things that are hindered because of your tall height, then honestly Japan isn't for you. One of the first things I noticed are how short the doors are! Now as a 5'3" person, I didn't have any issues, although when I thought of how my 6'5" friend would do, I chuckled inside. This is a traditional style ryokan centered in one of the most modernized cities of the world. I love that cozy feel that a home brings after a tiring day.

The place is pretty hidden, but luckily my brother remembered the route to Ueno park and Ueno station for the JR line so I just followed him. We always walked and only used the JR line for transit. Since we stayed for so long in Japan we got a Japan Rail pass in the states for almost $500 for 2 weeks and exchanged it in Japan. Its a smart decision if you plan to also travel outside of Tokyo. Ueno station is about a 15 - 20 min walk. Nezu Subway station is only 5 min walk. Ueno park is about 10 - 15 min walk and has the national art museum, Tokyo national museum, and national museum of science. By Ueno station there's also a huge shopping/restaurant strip and a market place that's cool to go through. So location wise, I would say this place is worth it. The ryokan also provides you with a map and things to see as well as a wall of pamphlets and brochures for other things to do in Tokyo and Japan.

For a week it cost me and my brother $300 each (and that's with 5 days of breakfast included). The room is small and there is one male and female toilet on each floor. The room consists of a closet for coats, and a space on the ground with a shelf where me and my brother placed our luggages (it fit my huge wheeled Samsonite bag). Theres also another small cabinet space but we never used it. There's only enough room to get to your things and sleep. There is a separate sink area with a shoe rack underneath. No shoes in the actual bedroom! They lend you sandals to wear in the room and around the ryokan. The beds were futons, like thin mattresses laid on the ground and you're given a very warm and comfy comforter and a brown fleece blanket. I put my fleece blanket over the comforter. I never worried about the temperature in the room or messing with the heater A/C. Given I visited in March and temperatures ran from 40s to 60s. Either way I was warm and cozy in the comfort of the my sheets.

Breakfast here ranges from 210 - 410 yen. You had a choice of 4 things, 2 slices of white bread, 2 slices of bread with fried egg, 2 slices of bread with scrambled egg, and 2 slices of bread with fried egg and ham. Pretty simple. Tea and coffee were complimentary and you could buy juices too although I never paid attention to those since I stuck with coffee and tea. There's also a fridge in front of the baths. by a vending machine that you can use to put your own drinks as well as free water. With the bread they give you strawberry and apricot jam as well as butter. As simple as it sounds, it was actually very good. Breakfast starts at 7:30 and ends at 9am. We always started our day early so we never missed breakfast.

There's free wifi in each room, although for some reason my iPhone would connect but not my computer. This was only for a couple days though and then it started working. There's also 2 desktops in the lobby area. Service was very good. Our rooms were very clean and the baths were always clean for me. I say for me because I always hit the bath right at 6am so I was usually the first one down. Everyone, like most people in Japan, in the staff were very gracious and attentive to needs as well as informative. More importantly they are fluent in English. They will greet you in Japanese, but will talk and answer you fine in English, just with an accent of course. If you forget to bring an umbrella, they have some to lend you.

Also in the room is a low table and 2 pillows that you sit on when eating or drinking or doing whatever at the table. They provide 2 tea cups, green tea mix, and a water heater that they always had filled with water every time we came back from our adventures. I always enjoyed coming back to the ryokan tired as ever and sit down to relax with a warm cup of green tea and a dessert treat I bought at a nearby grocery store.

There are 2 baths down in the first floor that are opened from 6am to 10am and 4pm to 1am (limit 3 baths a day). This is also a more traditional style bathroom. Slippers left in front of the room,There's a separate room where you can place your towels and clothes and undress, and then a small stool and a bucket with a faucet that can also switch to a removable shower head. The shower head can be placed up high as well if you would rather shower how we do in the states. The idea of being able to sit while I wash myself though fits with my already lazy ideals. Once you wash yourself you MUST rinse away all soap suds into the drain and make the place nice and clean for the next person! Then after bathing my FAVORITE part about this place is that they provide an Onsen which is essentially a super relaxing hot tub minus the Jacuzzi style bubbles. Super relaxing, best freaking part of every day I spent in Tokyo (except for my visit to the Ghibli Museum). They even have a window with a serene landscape. It was the best way for me to start my day while it was the best way to end my brother's.

Another important apart about this ryokan is how it is QUIET. There are no TV's in the room because of this, BUT they are available if you so wish to have one. You just have to ask at the front desk. Inside voices, front desk closes at 11pm (curfew). You can of course come in late, just be quiet and respectful of sleeping guests. I never had to worry or complain about noisy neighbors because most visitors are very conscientious of the basic mannerisms for the ryokan, which you should be too if you choose to stay at this place.

TLDR:

Quiet environment
Super friendly and attentive staff that speak fluent English
small rooms/doors
community toilet per floors
community baths (2 on 1st floor)
complimentary tea in rooms and tea/coffee in lobby
Serves simple breakfast food
Free Wifi (not slow at all)
Within walking distance of Ueno sights and Ueno JR station and Nezu Subway Station

Happy travels!

Room Tip: We were at the end of the hall and never had to deal with noises. There aren't any elevators but I would assume a room close to the stairs might be slightly annoying. Room 22 was hours.
  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
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5  Thank Emmelene F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
澤  新, Sawa family at Ryokan Sawanoya, responded to this reviewResponded 25 March 2014

Dear Emmelene F san,

Thank you very much for staying with us and for writing a review.

We are happy when you enjoy staying with us and the neighborhood.
The Sawanoya family hopes to continue offering comfortable lodging
for visitors to Japan for a long time.

You are a staff of Sawanoya and our family!
We look forward to having you and your family during your future visit to Japan.

Sincerely,

Sawa family

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 March 2014

Easy access from Ueno. The room was extremely clean, comfortable and practical and had traditional touches which is surprising find in Tokyo. Room service is Awesome! There is complimentary tea, slippers & yakatas in room. Bed was comfortable and there's free WiFi, coin laundry facilities etc. Very close to by Ueno Zoon, parks, shrines, Akiba! Definetly an ideal spot to stay ^^

Room Tip: Always as for an "evening key" if you are planning to stay later than 10pm.
  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank CharlesJohn1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sawanoya, Sawa family at Ryokan Sawanoya, responded to this reviewResponded 21 March 2014

Dear CharlesJohn1234 san,

Thank you very much for staying with us and for writing a review.

We are happy when you enjoy staying with us and the neighborhood.
The Sawanoya family hopes to continue offering comfortable lodging
for visitors to Japan for a long time.

We look forward to having you and your family during your future visit to Japan.

Sincerely,

Sawa family

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 March 2014

I have been staying at Ryokan Sawanoya every three years for over twenty years and it is my first choice for accommodation in Tokyo. The location ins close to Ueno Station and Nezu Station and in a delightful old district of Tokyo with excellent restaurants nearby. The attention to detail and care afforded by the family staff at Ryokan Sawanoya is outstanding and there are no matters too small for their attention and solution. There is an excellent choice of breakfast every day. There is internet access available free at the Ryokan too. The building is solidly constructed and quite earthquake and fire safe. Access from Narita and Haneda airports is very direct and easy. The rooms of the Ryokan are most comfortable and well appointed with balconies. The washing, ironing and ablution facilities are very good.
I cannot think of a better or more congenial place to stay in Tokyo.

Room Tip: The rooms are all quiet as there is little traffic in the area. There are three floors in the building and rooms are on the upper two floors.
Stayed: April 2013, travelled solo
1  Thank nicholas t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sawanoya, Sawa family at Ryokan Sawanoya, responded to this reviewResponded 6 March 2014

Dear ntesdorf san,

Thank you very much for staying with us over twenty years and for writing a review.

We are happy when you enjoy staying with us and neighbourhood .

The Sawanoya family hopes to continue offering comfortable lodging
for visitors to Japan for a long time.

We look forward to having you and your family during your future visit to Japan.

Sincerely,

Sawa family

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 March 2014

We stayed in this wonderful ryokan in late February after a ski trip in Niseko. It was really easy to book online beforehand. It is in a nice quiet area and not far to walk to from Nezu station. The Sawa family are incredibly polite, friendly and helpful. Lots of information available and free tea and coffee and water downstairs as well as green tea in your room. Also free wifi. We booked a room without en suite but the shared bathing rooms are so nice this isn't a problem at all. Best bathing experience ever my friend said! Everything is scrupulously clean. It was cold in the room but the heater/air conditioning unit warmed it up nicely. If you stay out after 11pm you can get a key to let yourself in. If you have a lot of luggage as we did I would recommend getting a taxi to Ueno station and get the Keisei Skyliner to Narita Airport to save you having to make changes traveling from Nezu.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Thank Malibustacey8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sawanoya, Sawa family at Ryokan Sawanoya, responded to this reviewResponded 6 March 2014

Dear Malibustacey8 san,

Thank you very much for staying with us and for writing a review.

We are happy when you enjoy staying with us.

The Sawanoya family hopes to continue offering comfortable lodging
for visitors to Japan for a long time.

We look forward to having you and your family during your future visit to Japan.

Sincerely,

Sawa family

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 February 2014

Great ryokan near Ueno. I have stayed here 3 times and would definitely recommend this inn for travelers to Tokyo. Excellent value and the Sawa family is so nice. The breakfast was also very good. I'm looking forward to my next visit.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank ArmyWife1995
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sawanoya, Sawa family at Ryokan Sawanoya, responded to this reviewResponded 1 March 2014

Dear ArmyWife1995 san,

Thank you very much for staying with us and for writing a review.

We are happy when you enjoy staying with us.

The Sawanoya family hopes to continue offering comfortable lodging
for visitors to Japan for a long time.

We look forward to having you and your family during your future visit to Japan.

Sincerely,

Sawa family

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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