Capsule hotels are one of the more unique lodgings to be found anywhere. They are essentially a small cubicle less than a metre square and 2 metres long, usually stacked 2 or three high.
Inside there is a bed and usually a television (with coin operated adult videos), a light and sometimes air conditioning and not much else, some people think they are a bit coffin or mausoleum-like. It is common to have no door on the capsule; with just a little curtain being the only privacy. The bathroom is a shared facility, and there are usually plenty of vending machines where you can buy just about anything, pyjamas, toothpaste, beer or even a saucy magazine.
Many of the capsule hotels can be found close to railway stations. This is to target businessmen who have missed the last train, either by being a bit busy at work or by having a few beers out on the town to find that getting home is just too hard.
The hotels are relatively cheap, usually 3,000 to 4,000 yen will be all you need to experience one of these intriguing and cozy boxes. Some capsule hotels have restrictions, like men only, or no tattoo’s. The no tattoo rule is an effort to keep out the Japanese mafia, known as the Yakuza.
When checking in at the capsule hotel you are usually given a “yukata” which is a cotton bathrobe common in Japanese hotels and a pair of slippers. The bed usually has a foam mattress, a sheet and a doona. There is usually a communal area where the guests make the most of the strong drink from the vending machines. It’s hard to say whether it makes you sleep better or makes things harder with all the snoring going on from the intoxicated.