What’re Capsule Hotels?

 

Reading time: 3 minutes

You know what a capsule is, right? And you know what a hotel is? Now imagine I have both of them in my hand…POW!

Capsule Hotel.

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Thank you, Vladimir. At least someone appreciates me.

Now then, let us begin this bite-sized article that’ll get you clued up on what’s been going on in Japan because let’s face it, it’s depressing reading about oil-fueled wars and preventable disease day in day out.

The first Capsule Hotel, or ‘Pod Hotel’ was developed in Osaka, Japan, in 1979 and then the rest of the world copied and did it worse sometime after 2012 (typical). They are essentially like cupboard spaces that are stacked on top one another fitted with a mattress and TV and are intended to provide cheap accommodation in a cramped city where there isn’t enough room to perform a judo chop… or something else that represents no space.

Obviously, if I’m talking about it today, that means I’ve ‘done it’, ‘done it’ referring to ‘stayed overnight’, not slept overnight, no, I didn’t sleep and why I didn’t sleep will be revealed shortly in this bite-sized article about Japan’s Capsule Hotels.


It was 10 pm and after borrowing down alleys swollen with flashing neon signs, overhead-low-hanging wires and bars that can only seat five drunken businessmen at a time, I had found the tall and rather slim ‘Capsule Hotel’.

As I approached the hotel I was knocked into by a dumpy looking western tourist as he walked blindly backwards taking selfies, he was suffering the heat with his red face, static hair and beach clothes on and offered no apology. I pushed him aside, entered the hotel and took to removing my shoes… I didn’t run back out and hit him with them, instead, it is customary in Japan to remove them.

I took to checking in where I was greeted by another non-japanese, this time though he was an employee, one who insisted that he needed to shout English at me because apparently, I didn’t understand it. After giving us a list of instructions like I was about to go go-karting or some other activity that requires an explanation, myself and my wife, accompanied by her mother and auntie parted ways to find our tombs for the night.

In these hotels, male and female are separated, a good thing too considering that in Japan they actually need ‘female carriages’ on trains because some bloody pervert keeps wan*ing on women during the rush hour, which is technically a biological attack (true story).

Before you can enter the Matrix-type-space, you need to put all your luggage and belongings in a locker located outside of your cell cupboard pod.

 

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As you can see, the isle is narrow with a capsule in stacks of two: top bunk and bottom bunk, for me, I had to have a top bunk as it felt less claustrophobic. The ‘pod’ itself is roughly 180Lx90Wx100H in centimetres and to enter the ‘pod’ you simply lift a blind, yeah, that’s the door; I was expecting a shutter of sorts, but instead, the only thing stopping you from having your feet tickled by a mental case is a blackout blind.

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Welcome to my crib, let me show you around. Done.

Throughout the entire night, I was kept up by non-Japanese tourists coming back from piss ups, people shouting to one another with, “which is your locker?!” and men having a gossip right outside my pod at 1 am. They had a total disregard for people sleeping, and considering I had to be up around 4 am the following morning, I wasn’t particularly aroused happy.

What I found most awakening (no pun intended) was the contrast in cultures; in Japan, there is a certain way of doing things, a strictness, a thoughtfulness, a consideration to all peoples and most of all, politeness. These qualities are attractive, and for me, not only are they welcomed but also embraced. It is so easy to get used to this and forget how in most cases, this is typical of Japan and not necessarily of other cultures. This then, explains why some Japanese people don’t like foreign tourists…and to be honest, I can see why.

When in Tokyo, you become exposed again to multiple cultures because of Tokyo’s tourist attractions and you’re quickly reminded of how unthoughtful, how inconsiderate and how unpolite other cultures can be and in truth, I am utterly embarrassed that the Japanese may judge me based on the actions of other foreigners.

Staying in a Capsule Hotel is like closing your eyes in a men’s changing room, someone’s rustling their clothes every five seconds, someone’s messing about with their duffle bag, men keep clearing their clogged throats, sniffing, snoring and the odd occasional groan from the guy tugging himself off (another true story).

When you wake the washing facilities in this particular hotel were located on the ground floor and were refreshingly pleasant and clean, and because I was up early I had the pleasure of avoiding the mouth-breathers whom I was glad I’d never see again. There seemed to be at least a hundred million showers, so there’s no danger of queuing up in the morning.

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The capsule is a chamber of man sounds, that’s all it is, so if you can’t sleep through that, don’t bother. If however you’re drawn to the element of ‘no doors or locks’ around complete strangers drunk in the night, then you’ll fit right in (because you’re probably the kind of person who keeps everyone else up). If you’re a female, then according to my wife it was quieter in the ladies pods, but then again, she grew up in China, so… doesn’t really mean anything.

A night in the debauchery chamber will costs you around £30.

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