I stayed here on one of my earliest trips to Japan; I'm happy to report that it has only gotten better over the years and remains one of my favorites. A family-run affair since 1949, the smoke-free inn is now in the capable hands of the original proprietress' grandson, though the elder Sawa-san still pours his heart and soul into the business and even wrote a book about the history of Sawanoya and his experiences as an innkeeper. Located about a 15-minute walk from Ueno Park and 5 minutes from Nezu Shrine, it's nestled in a residential area known for its shitamachi (old downtown) atmosphere and traditional architecture. Upon arrival, guests are given a short tour of the establishment, which includes two baths with views of a garden (which can be locked for privacy) and a nice laundry room with free detergent, before being led to their tatami room on the second or third floor (there's no elevator). Guests also receive a hand-drawn map outlining restaurants and other nearby facilities. The large lobby offers free coffee and tea and a huge selection of brochures from throughout Japan. A traditional Japanese lion dance is staged free of charge several times a month, and the inn is LGBT friendly. In short, Sawanoya has a long history of making travelers feel welcome in Tokyo and thus comes highly recommended.