Thursday, February 28, 2013
In Japan, there is a type of hotels called "capsule hotels". They do not give you a room, they give you a plastic tube to sleep in. It is about the size of a small bed and if you are not too tall you can probably sit upright inside the capsule. The capsule usually has a small TV, a radio, and an alarm clock. The hotel itself also has either a public bath style bathing facility or showers. Sometimes there is also a sauna. You can lock your stuff away in a small locker (but a suitcase would not fit).
Some capsule hotels allow women to stay, and then there are usually separate floors for men and women, and separate times for the shared bath. Most capsule hotels are for men only.
Capsule hotels are usually cheap (by Tokyo standards) and located in popular entertainment areas. The main target audience is drunk sarariman (office workers) who missed the last train home and need somewhere to sleep until morning when it is time to go to work again.
Capsule hotels are not for people who are claustrophobic though the capsule is not actually that small. It is also not recommended for people who need it to be quiet when they sleep, since there are usually two or three layers of capsules stacked on top of each other with a total of around 50 capsules in each room. The capsule walls are very thin plastic, so you can hear everyone else snoring. Also, the capsule opening through which you enter is usually only closed with a curtain (i.e. not sound proof). Sometimes drunk men who mistake your capsule for their capsule in the middle of the night might try climbing into your capsule too.
In the morning, everyone has their alarm clock go off at different times, since some people need to go to work early and leave at 5:30, some get up at around 6, other around 7 etc. So there will be the sound of alarm clocks beeping more or less constantly from 5:30 to 10:00 (when you have to check out). Some people leave their capsule before their alarm goes off, so no one is there to turn off the alarm in their capsules once they go off either...
I stayed in a capsule hotel after having been in the magic bar but before I had to get up and go to the airport to fly home. It is fun to try, but not recommended for longer trips.