Staying in a Japanese Capsule Hotel

Tokyo offers a wide range of accommodation options, but nothing is as quirky as a capsule hotel. The first capsule hotel opened in Osaka in 1979 and they can now be found in major cities across Japan. The capsule hotel idea has not taken off anywhere else though which makes for a unique Japanese accommodation experience.

I stayed at the Capsule Inn Akihabara, in Akihabara, Tokyo. This area seemed like the appropriate place to stay in a futuristic capsule as Akihabara is the big electronics and manga shops area of Tokyo.

Upon arrival you take your shoes off, as you would in a Japanese home, and place them into a shoe locker at the front entrance. Hand the locker key to reception and once you are done with check in formalities you are given another locker key attached to a wristband. The number on your wristband is your locker number and capsule number.

Locker Room
[Capsule Inn - Locker room]

The hotel’s slogan is “making the best of a small space”, and they really mean it. The lockers aren’t built for long haul travel. The locker is “L” shaped with room for hanging suits and jackets, and a shelf big enough for an overnight bag.

Capsule hotels are mainly frequented by business people staying in town overnight and people who have missed the last train home, so accommodating for bulging backpacks and unwieldy wheelie bags is not usually required.

If you have larger bags you can leave them on a luggage rack in the foyer. A security wire and padlock is provided.

When you are ready for bed you go to the locker room and change into your usual nightwear. If you go to bed ala naturale, you are supplied with a yukata (Japanese bathing robe). You are also supplied with a bath towel which is about the size of a tea towel.

Capsules
[Capsules]

Now it is off to capsule. The capsules are located on multiple levels, separated into male and female floors. Climb in and draw the bamboo blind at the entrance hole and you are in your little Tokyo bolthole for the night.

Capsule Interior
[Capsule Interior]

The capsules are the width of a single bed and are high enough for you to sit up in. A TV is built in to the roof and everything is designed as to not get in your way should you awaken suddenly in the night. A control panel with clock radio, alarm, TV controls and light switch is built into the side with a small ledge for personal items.

Capsule TV
[Capsule TV]

There are toilets on each level and the bathroom can be found next to the locker room. The bathroom is in the style of Japanese bath houses. There are showers and a large public hot bath. You are required to shower first before using the hot bath (of course).

Capsule bathroom
[Bathroom]

Down in the foyer there is a common area with vending machines and newspapers. You won’t find copies of The Japan Times or International Herald Tribune here though, it’s all Japanese language papers. Like everywhere else in Tokyo there is wireless internet available.

Capsule Inn foyer
[Capsule Inn Foyer]

Capsule hotels encapsulates (pun intended) the hi-tech, limited space image of Tokyo. So if you are looking to do something a bit different, then a stay in a capsule hotel could be for you.

Capsule Inn Bedtime
[Bedtime in my Yukata]

Comments

  1. says

    Japan has always taken one step ahead from all of the world, with all of the innovative ways to push it to the limit. This is one of the many examples of what they can accomplish with just an idea.

  2. Anonymous says

    I think the idea is neat…however they do look like dog kennels.

    I would stay in one given the opportunity just for the experience.

  3. says

    @ Capsule hotels began in 1979 so “the fifth element” probably got inspiration from these hotels.

    @ No you can’t share a capsule. Each floor is strictly single sex.

  4. says

    Long ago I stayed in one of these*. While you would not want to do it for more than a night or two, it does work reasonably well for that long.

    Tom

    *Btw, I was the only gaijin among many, many Japanese men. Unique.

  5. Caven says

    When you visit a Capsule Hotel act confidently! The non-English-speaking receptionist will brush you off and direct you to leave if you appear naive about what they offer and expect. This is not a bias or discrimination issue ~ rather, they’re embarrassed about their lack of English and don’t want to have to negotiate through gestures. So … act confidently and it’s a heap of fun.

  6. The Hapless Hobo says

    Very cool, thanks for an enlightening post! I’m looking forward to traveling to Japan very soon…I think it would be a very cool experience to do this.

  7. says

    Wow! Would definitely be an adjustment period for someone used to sleeping in a queen or king size bed! Bet it’s fun in it’s own way, though. I’d probably be up late spying on the other compartments… ;)

  8. says

    @Tom I stayed for 2 nights and yes 1 night would have sufficed

    @Liz the cost was 4000Y (about $40USD)

    @Gary the capsule hotel was in Akihabara near the electronics district. I think it was the only capsule hotel in the area.

  9. says

    I think this is a Brilliant idea ^_^ .. I have always wanted to visit Japan, and this is on my list of things To Do.. thankyou for the informative and well written post…like the pictures too!

  10. Anonymous says

    I stayed in a Capsule Hotel in Fukuoka WellBe in Canal City… it’s nice but a dog kennel is the best way to put it. At least you can let yourself out, which a dog can’t. It’s an inexpensive way for 1 to see Japan, and interesting, but I wouldn’t recommend it… very confining and if you’re the least bit claustrophobic, forget it

  11. says

    This is funny. I can believe the Japanese are the only countries to do this. The Japanese are so innovative. I wonder what’s stopping people from starting something like this in America? If anyone has an idea .. contact me on aim – penguins

  12. Anonymous says

    Considering how I spend 9 months inside terrible army barracks, with no privacy at all and terrible amenities, this looks like Hilton to me! I’ll definitely stay there if I ever go to Tokyo.

  13. hotel motel says

    Decided to stay in a capsule hotel for 1 night while visiting Tokyo with a friend. Its such an experience i would recommend it to everyone to try for atleast 1 night. You can only check in during morning hours. Bags are padlocked together in reception and you are allocated a locker to keep valuables. The Capsule hotel is closed during the day and opens again at around 5pm. Its purpose is to sleep there only, so perfect if you are going to be out exploring all day. There is also free internet in reception which was great! There are 3 floors for female capsules and 3 floors for male. You have a key to your floor so it is very safe, no males can come up to the female floors and vice versa. Once on your floor you have a locker for valuables but i just kept my things with me in my capsule as i found there to be more than enough room, men may not have so much room though! You also receive a robe, slippers! You are only allowed to take up essentials to your capsule, and your main bag, which in my case was a rucksack, has to stay in reception. Inside your capsule you have a tv and radio and alarm clock, and i found them to be very spacious inside, not at all claustrophobic.The bathrooms were very clean also. The only downside to this is if you are travelling with your partner then you have to spend the night on different floors! Would have been more fun if was with other girls so could share experience with them! But definatly something you have to do whilst in Tokyo.

  14. says

    Im posting this from a capsule right now! Slightly different as my place allows 24hr Access and ive been here for 5 days! Very cheap way to see tokyo as its cost me 88USD for the 5 nights. Not as well looked after as the ones in the pictures however they are cleaned after people leave. Id Definitely do it again!

  15. says

    As my brother lives in Tokyo and I do intend to visit him, I’ve been genuinely curious about this experience. Also, my best friend has a minor obsession with the movie “Fifth Element” so I’m somewhat familiar with the concept from being forced to watch that over and over. I think I’d enjoy this, but not for more than a few nights!

    • says

      I can’t remember where I first found out about capsule hotels, but it has always been in my mind as a thing to do in Tokyo. It’s a great experience, but one night is enough! Handy having your brother living in Tokyo as you won’t have to worry about storing large bags there, for which it is not designed for.

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