Things go bump in the night at this unique accommodation in Minami Senju.

Back in the Edo period, (1603-1867) Tokyo was home to three major execution grounds, and one of them, Kozukappara, was located near present-day Minami-Senju Station. Today, this area is famous for its cheap hotels, and the site where criminals were once executed is now taken up by a longstanding temple called Ekoin, where you can find the graves of political activists from the end of the Edo period, including Yoshida Shoin.

It’s a fascinating site rich in history and rumoured hauntings, so if that sounds like something you’d like to immerse yourself in, there’s a way you can do that — by staying at the hotel next door.

▼ Hotel on the left, cemetery on the right

Our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma has made it his mission to stay at as many cheap hotels in Tokyo as possible, but this stay was a little unnerving, even for him. Still, it was incredibly cheap, with fees starting at just 3,500 yen (US$22.40) a night, so he took the plunge and made a booking, arriving at the hotel at night.

The location was ideal, being just a three-minute walk from Minami-Senju Station, and the building itself was inviting, as it looked more like a family home than a hotel. Stepping into the lobby, Masanuki removed his shoes and placed them in a locker before stepping into a pair of slippers and signing in at the front desk.

The lobby had a retro atmosphere, and the walls were decorated with certificates of commendation, giving it the feel of a hotel from the Showa era (1926-1989). It had everything you’d need for an overnight stay, though, with a mini-manga corner, a vending machine, and a microwave oven.

At the back were the showers, toilets, and a water server. There’s also a communal bath here, but when Masanuki visited it was unavailable as it was undergoing repairs.

The guest rooms are on the next floor, so Masanuki headed up the stairs, where he found…

▼ …a view of the cemetery from the window.

He wasn’t expecting the graves to appear so close to the building, but there they were, looking strangely peaceful and majestic in the night. It was thrilling to think he would be able to sleep next to some famous historical figures, and looking at the shiny guest room floor, he couldn’t help but feel it had an execution-like look to it.

There were a lot of doors and corridors that made the place feel like a maze, and when he headed down one hallway he found a washroom area with toilets and sinks.

To the side here was an emergency staircase cordoned off with a chain. Looking down, you can see a long staircase that goes straight to the bottom, like the entrance to a dungeon.

It sent Masanuki’s imagination into overdrive and he could feel shivers run down his spine, so he was happy when he opened the door to his room and found it looked bright and inviting inside.

The room had a long and narrow hallway, where you’d normally expect to find a bath or kitchen. However, this was no apartment — it was a cheap hotel room, so the only thing it needed was a bed, an air-conditioning unit, and some desks.

It was compact with not a lot of room to swing a suitcase, but that suited Masanuki just fine as he’d come with nothing but a backpack.

The bed was comfy, with a nice, thick mattress but the pillow was a bit odd as it seemed flatter than usual.

The tables were worn, but he’d been provided with a yukata, towels and a hairdryer; perks usually reserved for more expensive hotels or hot spring stays.

After changing into the yukata and enjoying a quick shower, Masanuki lay down on the bed and felt all the stresses of the day slip away. However, that’s when something strange happened. As he drifted between wakefulness and the land of nod, he felt his body trembling. Forcing himself awake and opening his eyelids, he realised it wasn’t just his body that was shaking — the whole room was too.

Then he heard a roar from the distance, and as it got louder, so too did the tremor, prompting Masanuki to look out the window to find out what was going on.

That’s when he realised…

▼ …it was a train.

From the window of his room, Masanuki could see the railway he’d used earlier — the JR Joban Line — and as the hotel wasn’t far from the railroad tracks, it seemed to receive a lot of noise and vibrations from passing trains.

Breathing a sigh of relief that it wasn’t anything more sinister, Masanuki checked the train timetable on his phone, where he found that the trains run about every 10 minutes until around 12:30 a.m. After that time, Masanuki was able to enjoy a quiet night of slumber, and when he woke in the morning, he mused at the fact that the scariest thing about the place were the trains and not the spirits next door.

It was a thrilling stay that made Masanuki feel alive in more ways than one. He reckons it’s great value for money, and he highly recommends it to anyone looking for a unique type of budget accommodation…as long as you’re not afraid of trains.

Hotel information
Business Hotel Fukusen / ビジネスホテル 福千
Address: Tokyo-to, Arakawa-ku, Minamisenju 2-15-11

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]