While preparing our six-week trip to Japan, I remember that day I hoped would never occur “Oh! And I really want to try a capsule hotel!”. I was all for trying all sorts of typical accommodation, like ryokans (these traditional inns), a night in a temple, even pitching our tent at a rocky slope at 3000 meter altitude. But capsules? Claustrophobic as I am, I was truly wondering why we should force ourselves to spend a night in a 1mx2mx1,25m hotel “room”. Scratch that: morgue drawer!
Doubtful, I decide to take charge of the booking. I start browsing the Internet and to my surprise (and relief!) most are for men only. Capsule hotels (カプセルホテル, kapuseru hoteru) were originally designed to sleep guys who missed the last train home providing an extremely basic, and cheap solution. Months ahead, the ones open to both males and females tend to be fully booked already.
I consider myself lucky when I find a new capsule hotel in the Tsukiji area, close to the location of the tuna auction at the world’s biggest fish market. This will be a very short night anyway, having to start queuing at 3a.m., so it is a lesser evil.
We are surprised by the sleek design of the hotel upon check in. The room “key” is in fact the one of a bedside locker: it was indeed a smart move to have taken with us what we needed for the night only, leaving our cumbersome back packs at the Tokyo station.
Off the elevator, tiptoeing through the corridor, we are passing screens behind which women are sleeping. What a fantastic relief when I discover my own capsule for the night: 1.25mx2mx2.10m. Huge! The bed is comfortable and the capsule fully equipped with light dimmers, a flat screen TV, plugs, and our fresh sheets, pyjamas, towels, and flip flops. Bulky luggages can be stored in the corridor. We make our way to the onsen on the top floor, enjoying a nice shower and relaxing bath.
A bit later, I fall asleep in my private capsule, already regretting the 2.35a.m. wake up call that is scheduled in!
P.S.: I had a short but fantastic night! Japanese people are very respectful and remain silent in the capsule areas, watching TV with helmets and making calls from specific zones.