Monday, September 12, 2011

Cool Japanese Thing #99: Capsule Hotels

So, I spent this weekend visiting my old haunt, Kawagoe. It's a pretty big city, roughly twice the size of my home, Salem. While staying there, I had to make sleeping accomodations, and ended up staying at one of the oft-spoken of Capsule Hotels that litter Japan. These hotel rooms are really nothing more than coffin-shaped boxes with mattresses inside. You can see from the photo above that they are quite small. That may be part of why the price tag is only $40 per night.

For my $40, I received one "bedroom," pictured above, in addition to access to a communal bathroom and sauna. There, I was able to wash away the sweat and dirt clinging to me. Hours of walking in 90-degree, humid weather will do that to the most stalwart of men.

There are no doors, and privacy comes with a pull-down screen that protects against visitors and noise. The screen hooks at the bottom of the entrance so that it can only be lifted from the inside. On the upper right is a television, and the speaker is near the head of the bedroom, so you can hear the program without disturbing adjacent capsules.

I set my alarm for 9am so that I could spend extra time in the sauna and still meet the 10am check-out deadline. The hotel has a common room with leather couches and a wide-screen television, so I watched the news before gathering my things and taking off. One thing I found particularly interesting is that the hotel takes your shoes when you arrive. I assume that's to prevent you from skipping out on your bill, but it might just be a strange habit of this type of establishment.

Sleeping at the Capsule Inn was a pleasant, relaxing experience and I would definitely use of these businesses again if I was visiting somewhere in Japan for a short time.

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