Sato and Kumiko, the owners of Nikko Guesthouse Sumica, are some of the kindest, most helpful people I’ve met while traveling in Japan. The couple renovated a fifty year old house and opened their youth hostel three years ago, just between Tobu-Nikko and JR Nikko Stations, which provides the perfect location for backpackers and tourists. A twenty minute walk and ten minute bus ride from the World Heritage Sites and Toshogu Shrine, I booked my reservation via e-mail.
The house itself is quite old, the floorboards creak and the doors may be a little loud, but Sato and Kumiko have worked very hard to make Guesthouse Sumica a welcoming place. Both speak very good English, and I had no trouble communicating with them as I made my reservation and asked about tourist information. They provided me with several tourist maps, a bus schedule, and even let me borrow some of their guidebooks. If I wanted to go to a hot spring in the evening or grab some food to cook from the supermarket, Kumiko offered to drive me wherever I needed. Other accommodations include free WiFi, travel information, lockers, and luggage storage.
The guesthouse has two types of rooms: tatami rooms in a minshuku fashion and bunk bed dormitories styled like a youth hostel. There are three dorm rooms (male, female, and mix) that hold four beds each. There are two tatami mat rooms, one 4.5 tatami mats and the other 6 tatami mats. The rooms fit two people, three if you reserve the large room. There is one shared bathroom and shower, but with the small size of the house, there was no problem waiting in lines. Downstairs, the common room was quite cozy and a great way to meet new people. I really loved the small, old feel of the house.
My original plan for Nikko was a two-day trip around the most popular spots: World Heritage sites the first day, and hiking in Senjogahara the second day. The rain had other plans for me. My travel companion and I were caught in a downpour that lasted our entire stay, but Kumiko and Sato helped us make the best of our time in Nikko. On the evening of our arrival, we were too cold and wet to walk around outside, so Kumiko pulled out some of her fortune telling cards and told everyone their fortune in English. On the next morning, Sato showed us some nice walking trails we could take near the station, rather than traveling all the way to Chuzen-ji Lake in the bad weather.
I really appreciated my time in Nikko with Kumiko and Sato’s hospitality. I will definitely stay at Guesthouse Sumica during my next trip to Nikko.