What do you think of when you hear the word hostel? If you’re picturing messy bunk beds and common rooms sticky with stale beer, well, we’ve all been there (and got the tie-dye harem pants to prove it).
But what if we told you that there was a different kind of hostel, and that it’s located in the temple-filled, surfer’s paradise of Kamakura – just one hour from Tokyo?
Opened September last year, WeBase KAMAKURA is redefining the way people travel to Japan by offering an immersive accommodation experience in Kamakura, a totally picturesque coastal gem of culture and history just south of Tokyo.
Right now, there’s a serious shortage of accommodation in Tokyo (hotels are currently at around 80% occupancy on average) and almost no options available within Kamakura itself. Most people who do end up visiting Kamakura make it a seaside day trip which means that they miss out on many of the unique and fulfilling experiences it has to offer.
Nicknamed the ‘Kyoto of the Kanto region’, this is where you’ll find the Japan of your imagination – gleaming ancient temples, forested mountains and Mt. Fuji in the distance – combined with something that you maybe didn’t expect: the beach.
A base to connect
WeBase wanted to change that. Working in collaboration with students at the Kyoto University of Art and Design, they created a dynamic space a minutes walk from the beach that would not only provide a place to stay, but be a literal base from where people could connect with each other, to the local community, and with Japan.
How do they do this? First the building itself works almost as a kind of self-contained facility, with a range of room types laid out across an expansive space that can host up to 160 people at one time. Staying in one of the ‘Seaside’ rooms? Head downstairs to the lounge where the iMacs are free to use. If you’re in the ‘Mountain’ section, you’re a few steps away from an authentic hot spring bath and a brightly-lit yoga studio.
In this way, when you come to stay at WeBase, you’re able to integrate elements of your regular life, like work and daily exercise routines, with new travel encounters.
There’s a spectrum of different room types that fit the needs of a diverse set of travelers. Those flying solo can set up in the comfortable capsule dorms, while couples have a choice of twin bunk rooms or double beds, some with ensuite bathrooms. 4 or 6-person rooms with Western-style beds are ideal for groups and there’s even a washitsu room with tatami and futons where up to 12 people can bunk together proper Japanese style. Shared toilets are connected to the rooms, plus there’s heaps of showers in the main bathroom so you never have to wait.
But beyond its cool amenities, WeBase wants to be a place that enables travelers to become a part of the community, however short their visit. Yoga classes in the ‘Another World Studio’ are open to the public so guests can mingle with people from outside the hostel. WeBase also organizes regular events like zazen (zen meditation) classes, Japanese sweet making, tea ceremony workshops, and movie nights. Fans of the anime Slam Dunk can rent a uniform for the ultimate Insta selfie around Kamakaura Koko Mae station, where the story is set. Recently they held a run on the beach with an Adidas-certified coach.
In fact, many of the activities they organize focus on well being, reflecting Kamakura’s reputation as a place of respite and rejuvenation – an escape from the hustle of the capital city. Arriving at WeBase’s futuristic entrance, it feels like you’ve come to stay at a retreat – a retreat that gives you space to both have loads of fun and chill out in the company of good people.
The WeBase Project
Sound too good to be true? When we heard about this hostel we knew it had to be checked out. So we invited three Instagram influencers living and working in Tokyo to come discover more about WeBase by way of an awesome, fun-filled weekend in Kamakura. #jobperks
Ronny – a DJ and producer
Donny – a writer and PR consultant
Justine – an artist and illustrator
What did they think? Well, you can watch the video above, follow their Instagram, or a way better option – come on down and see for yourself.
Learn more about the sights and activities featured in the video from the WeBase KAMAKURA Blog and Facebook page. Both are packed with tons of useful information on the area as well as travel tips, events and news. Check it out!
Cast: Ronny Gallegos, Donny Kimball and Justine Wong
Footage: Dixon Wong
Editing and post-production: David Jaskiewicz
Locations: WeBase KAMAKURA, Brasserie Gent, Another World Studio, Sasuke Inari Shrine, Hase-dera Temple, Kotoku-in Temple and The Great Buddha of Kamakura, Enoshima, Seedless Bar, Yuigahama Beach, Shichirigahama Beach.