Short in money or need a short time sleep bed ?
Capsule (“kapuseru” or カプセル) is the strangest concept but the cheapest way to sleep if you visit Japan. However, you might reconsider this option if you suffer of Claustrophobia, it’s smaller than you think. 🙂
I have been traveling Japan since 15 years and i will always remember my first time. No language skills at all, short in money and completely lost walking alone with this map translated half english half Japanese, it was very exciting but annoying at same time because hotels in Japan are so expensive, more than you think. Normally for a room in tourist location (i guess this is what you are looking for), for the smallest and safest room, it start at around $250 .usd. Not cheap if you are a bag pack traveller. I had to walk trough the city morning to night to find a decent room price. Actually i end up in Akihabara, not really in center area, maybe 15 minutes away by walking but it was cozy and very cute. I had to pay $75 for a night. The day after i told myself to stay in the tourist area where every exciting sighting spot are located but still room’s hotel was expensive where ever i was going. So the next day, where did i end up ? In this kind of so cute and fancy hotel called “love hotel” but soon i figured i was at the wrong place. This is where i finally found the most convenient way to sleep, the capsule !
If you are in Japan not for sleeping all day long but for visiting and trying stuff as much as possible and if you are by yourself, capsule is for you.
Depending on the prefecture and the area, price may vary but it stay between $30 to $50 .usd (¥5680 Yen)
Most of these hotel offer high-speed internet access included with the basic stuff like soap, tooth paste, towels, gown, robe… Don’t worry, Japanese have normally a good sense of cleanliness so you wont have bed bugs or other weird viruses.
In the culture, we remove shoes before entering the house so the same for hotel. Once you enter, remove your shoes and put them into the locker and lock the small door with the key then search for some slippers if there is, you can use it. Don’t forget to give the key to the front desk and ask the key back the day after to open your shoes locker.
After checking in, you will be given a second key. This is a locker key in the changing room where you can use to store your belonging and clothes. It should have the same number as your capsule.
Most of capsule hotel offer bath and in Japan, bath is one of the most important thing. Most of people enjoy bath once a day to once a week. And they put a lot of effort on bath giving guests a sentou (銭湯) or a communal bathing experience. It is separate by gender so if you are a man, you will find other men in the same bath as you, yes naked so don’t be shy but don’t look down either. This is just normal in the culture. (And no, you wont find women in your bath)
As a note, You must take a shower before join bath.
it took me a little while to join this kind of bath due to my shyness. I was not comfortable to walk all naked and sit in water next to other men. As you know, in western culture we normally don’t do it but i have to admin it was very relaxing once i tried it. the water is very hot making muscle pain just go away.
Do you have tattoos? If yes like most of westerners, unfortunately, it will close many door. Tattoos are used by mafia in Japan so it’s not so welcome even from tourist. So if you have one or more, try to find a way to hide it or cover them.
Inside the capsule
The capsule is cozy but the bed very thin. You wont have any privacy about noise because each of them comes with shutter or blinds that you can close but nothing cut off the noise from your neighbor unfortunately but hey, this is only for those who seek a short sleep ready for the next day.
Note: Do not use your mobile inside the capsule because you will annoy all your neighbors with your voice and the ring bell. Respect is so important in Japan, you will notice by yourself.
Checkout is done at 10am in the morning. So make sure you woke up earlier to do your morning self-cleaning to prevent extra late fees.
If you are in Japan with your camera seeking for sightseeing as much as possible on a ticking time but your budget is not as big as your excitement, Capsule Hotel might be for you, at least you will save so much money on hotels which is normally one of the biggest spending when traveling. (From my experience, i tried it a couple of time and i liked it so i recommend it to anyone traveling.)
Abstain capsule if you suffer of claustrophobia