[A review of my stay at Capsule Inn Akihabara from my 2007 visit to Tokyo.]
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.
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.
The hotel 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 au naturel, 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 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.
Search capsule hotels near Akihabara or if this sounds too claustrophobic look for normal hotels in Tokyo.
Oh my, this is quite impressive! How much for one nite?
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.
Mrs Mecomber says
Looks like the sleeping “rooms” in movie “The Fift Element”. wonder who was first ….
do they allow a man and woman to stay together in a “capsule”?
James Clark 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.
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.
*Btw, I was the only gaijin among many, many Japanese men. Unique.
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.
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.
James Clark 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.
Planet Traveling says
The idea is too strange for me any way, thanks for the post
Holly Mac. F 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!
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
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
Do they clean each capsule immediately and thoroughly after each stay to ensure adequate sanitation?
James Clark says
The hotel is closed during the day and you can’t leave anything in the capsule, so I assume that everything is cleaned during the day.
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.
Yoon Eun says
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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!
Kirsten Alana 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!
James Clark 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.
Looks too cozy for my taste!