Next we have turned our spotlight on a new guest house that just opened in Niigata City this year!
This bright and beautiful establishment is run by Kazuno Maeda, a cat lover and international exchange enthusiast.
She originally was introduced to the idea of running a guest house or hostel on a trip to Hokkaido a years ago. She had a ton of fun staying in a hostel where she was able to meet new people. A few years passed and she took a trip to Seoul, again, staying in guest house and having a wonderful time she thought it would be wonderful if she could do one herself.
On another trip to Hokkaido, she stayed in virtually the middle of nowhere at a guest house where the hosts planned events and meals that everyone could do together. That sealed the deal for her. Mrs. Maeda started seriously looking into starting her own guest house here in Niigata.
She attended an info session about guest houses in Tokyo where she met the owner of Guest House Ninjin and learned about the community of diverse guest houses in Niigata.
She had also been wanting to own a cat for a very long time but never lived in a place that allowed cats so when she started seriously thinking about opening this guest house she thought this was her chance. She and her husband built this house, the guest house on the first floor and they reside upstairs with her cat.
Lune, short for “renaissance”, is a rescue cat that she adopted from a shelter in Shibata and he has become the “poster cat” of the guest house. Ori Ori’s name actually comes from her word for “cat loaf” which is when cats sit with their front paws tucked in- which can also be seen in the house’s logo. She chose this design not only because cats are awesome but also because of what it represents for her- a peaceful world, relaxation.
You can also find cat designs all throughout the place and, if you ask, you can even meet Lune (who is only allowed in the common areas).
The common area is a big, open, and bright room with giant windows, a piano, and a projector. She wanted to provide a place for family-style meetings, where people could mingle and have a good time.
As a way to bring people together, taking inspiration from the guest house experience in Hokkaido, she offers cooking lessons, in English or Japanese, where everyone cooks and eats a meal together. Her focus is introducing Japanese food to her guests but if you have likes/dislikes she is willing to plan the menu with you!
We even got a taste (pun intended) of her cooking session. First, she explained the process to us entirely in English with visual aids. Her English is already really good and the visuals really made it easy to understand.
Then we were all given tasks and were set loose on the kitchen. The below was the absolutely delicious final product. We all made the tempura, the sauteed chicken, the rice, and the miso soup and simply cut the pickles and tomato.
After we finished eating we toured the rest of the guest house- the area where guests stay. They have everything that you could need on a trip. There’s a double sink vanity so multiple people can get ready at the same time.
You also have access to a nice sized shower and a laundry machine.
The rooms are also semi private with a wall between each “room” but the 4th wall is a curtain. Each room is unique with different wall designs and a little cat sign in the entry.
Additionally, of course there is free wifi and as the kitchen is communal you can use it to make breakfast (though meal options are available).
You can contact her in English or Japanese via any method listed below (she is hoping to be able to provide support in Spanish at some point too!) and a website is soon to come as well.
1-6724-9 Ikarashi, Nishi Ward, Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture., 950-2101, Japan