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.
[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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
[Bedtime in my Yukata]