Leisure & Culture #17

Nui. HOSTEL & BAR LOUNGE: An oasis in the city

Nui

Written by RMM
Photos by ©nui

It’s a warm summers day and the cicadas are crying into the sunset. You’ve spent the entire day exploring Tokyo’s shitamachi and have taken in whatever the traditional ‘downtown’ area had to offer. With the Tokyo Sky Tree glowing in the distance, you make your way down Kasuga-doori and cross the Sumida River.

But your day doesn’t end here. Turning the corner at the koban (police box), you approach a bustling veranda half a black away from the riverside. It’s only 6pm but locals and foreigners alike have gathered here to drink and make merry: an international exchange lubricated with delicious cocktails and tasty conversation.

Where is this wonderful place, you ask? Nestled in a quiet corner of the Kuramae district, is the Nui. HOSTEL & BAR LOUNGE. Kuramae has historically been known as a neighbourhood for monozukuri or creative craftsmanship, and it’s no surprise that the founders of Nui. chose this location.

The building that houses Nui., is another remnant of the area’s past – it used to belong to famous toy manufacturer with over 400 years of history! The new hostel owners renovated the building in 2012, transforming the former warehouse into a social space for the modern traveler.

Nui.’s façade is undeniably industrial at first glance – think cool cement floors, high ceilings and massive ceiling fans that keep Indian summers away. But the deft mix of industrial concrete and steel with warm, sturdy wood interior (from Hokkaido!) is a good balance between its past as a warehouse and its future as a community space. It’s hard to go wrong with this increasingly popular aesthetic!

Nothing has been left to chance, with the space and experience planning. A convenient bike-rack right outside the entrance greets intrepid cyclists. Enter through the side, past the delightful antler-deer logo, and find a spot in the first floor café and bar area. With lots of natural light streaming it, it’s a great place to have a cup of drip coffee and start a conversation with friends or even strangers! Locals, both young and old, like to drop by the café too and seem to be more than happy to strike up a conversation. You might even discover more hidden gems about the neighbourhood!

This is also the space where fresh pain aux chocolat and other delicious pastries are baked every morning, in their own kitchen. The smell of fresh bread is intoxicating, and definitely a good match to their coffees supplied by cult-favourite ONIBUS COFFEE.

With staff that look genuinely happy to see you, travelers can rest assured that their stay with Nui. is going to be a pleasant one. The hostel’s 2nd to 5th floors plays host to two types of rooms – dormitory and private. Travelers get to choose from mixed to female-only dormitory rooms, and each bed comes with a private reading light, electric plug (for all your electronics!) and a curtain. Nui. prides itself on their strong timber beds, which are much larger than pre-fabricated bunks. For those that require a little more privacy, their twin & double rooms are cozy spaces to catch up on some sleep before another day of exploring. The best part about staying at Nui., is that it’s very affordable! Mixed dormitories cost 2,700yen per person and doubles start at 6,500 per night.

Like an increasingly number of spaces across the globe, Nui. is part of a wave of hostels and hotels that want to create somewhere that’s more than just a place to sleep. It’s bespoke on a budget, and a space that celebrates a slow lifestyle.

It’s clear that Nui. was built by people with strong passion for handmade work. The name itself “Nui” means “sewing by hand” in Japanese, and it is with artisan carpenters and craftsmen that they have ‘sewn’ together a place that exists beyond all borders. People with different nationalities, religions, jobs or ages are all welcomed here. It is a place where you “don't have to wear any mask”, where you are accepted as you are. So drop down your physical and mental baggage, and let go in Nui.