I mentioned this hotel when I was actually travelling and said I'd write a more detailed review later and I've finally got around to it. I thought I had a shitload of photos of this place on my tablet but I was wrong.
Anyway, if you are going to Kagoshima, definitely stay at nanshokan. . Even if you aren't planning on going to Kagoshima, stay there anyway. This hotel is super awesome and Kagoshima itself is so freaken awesome.
For starters, if you talk to people in Japanese, they answer you instead of just staring blankly. And it's really easy to understand them too. I'm not sure if that's because the accent in Kagoshima is similar to the Australian accent or if people are just a bit more tolerant of variations in your Japanese.
The city is incredibly beautiful. I didn't get to travel out of the city except for the ride in on the airport bus and leaving on the shinkansen but that looked pretty nice. Tip - internal flights in Japan are super cheap now and I went from Tokyo to Kagoshima for next to nix, but the transfers to and from the airport were insane, plus its so time consuming to get to the airport, get there early to check in, wait around... blah, blah, blah. I'd much prefer the shinkansen where I can just rock up, get a ticket then sit back in comfort and actually see something. For tourists who can get a JR pass, I'd definitely recommend it.
Okay, what drew me to the Nanshokan over other hotels in Japan was the breakfast. With me, it's always about the breakfast. Rooms at business hotels tend to be pretty much the same everywhere but breakfast is like an awesome bonus. And the Nanshokan offered a kurobuta (black pork - regional speciality of Kagoshima) shabu shabu breakfast. I'm sold.
I got to the hotel and checked in then went to my room and thought I'd been given the wrong key!
My room and breakfast cost around 3,500 yen a night but this wasn't a room. I had an entrace way with the usual genkan bit then a step up to a room with a kitchen about the size of the kitchen in a Japanese apartment plus washing machine -- yes, a washing machine just for me to use all on my own. Those things mean a lot when you are travelling.
I was so excited about having this dryer on my balcony, it was the only thing I took a photo of! Sorry about the sidewaysness of it.
The next room was a Japanese style room with a table and a big screen TV then a bedroom with another big screen TV and a super comfy bed and decent size bathroom with good toiletries. Plus I had a huge balcony with a view of the Saigo statue!
The entrance way to the hotel had a huge lobby then another room with PCs for guests to use. They had a doctor fish (the fish that nibble your dead flesh off) in the lobby but it was raised up so I guess you could only use it for your hands and arms.
They also had complimentary snacks and things plus you could have tastings of local shochu! Free booze and snacks -- what more could you ask for? I did grab what I thought was a yuzu cookie and later opened it to realise it was a yuzu bath bomb. Which I put in my luggage and then all my clothes smelt of yuzu.
The manager and/or owner was so excited to have a gaijin stay at his hotel, he kept giving me stuff. I went down to get a cold drink and he took me to the vending machine in the car park. I'm not sure why because I later found a vending machine on one of the other floors. Then he gave me an icecream - shirokuma - which is another Kagoshima specialty.
Shirokuma means white bear but I found this stuffed polar bear a bit confronting. He doesn't look very happy about the whole situation.
The icecream was super yum but very filling. Then the guy kept giving them to me and I wasn't sure what to do with them. I only had a bar fridge not a freezer in my room so I couldn't save them for later either.
Yum, tasty porky breakfast
Some of the other non-pork breakfast foods
Breakfast was all I wanted and more. You got a choice of a Japanese or Western set with lots of little nibbly bits plus the kurobuta and this awesome yuzu stuff to have with it. Actually it wasn't all I wanted because I really wanted a proper coffee but you are never going to get that at Japanese hotel.
The hotel was very central - there is a huge undercover shopping area nearby that was very easy to get lost in plus it was very near to the entertainment district. A few minutes walk from the hotel, you could get on the tourist loop bus that goes all around the city but a lot of the tourist atrractions were within walking distance anyway (even for me on a stinking humid day). Like the museum which has an awesome video about the first samurai that went to England. I dunno if it was the crap English voiceover actors I had on my headset or what, but I was the only one screaming with laughter. Seriously, there is this bit where they have to get on the boat to go to England and give up their swords and one of the guys is like "even if we give up our weapons, we still have the swords of our samurai spirit and the arrows of wisdom..." in a very stilted voice. It's worth watching!
You can also walk down the waterfront and get on a ferry to Sakurajima or check out the aquarium (neither of which I did).
The hotel isn't flash, it's a bit old but definitely one of the best value for money hotels I've ever stayed at. You probably would need a bit of Japanese to stay there though, also I think you can only book it through the Japanese rakuten site, not the English one.
I'd give Nanshokan five out five stars. Maybe six for the awesome breakfast :)
Bonus photo for Tom if he reads this!