My Capsule Hotel in Japan Experience

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My Capsule Hotel in Japan Experience

capsule hotel in japan

Capsules at a capsule hotel in Japan.

On the day I arrived in Japan, all the hostels in Fukuoka were booked solid. It was a Korean holiday, and the international ferry to Fukuoka is a popular jaunt for Busaners. I knew I’d need an alternative accommodation plan.

capsule hotel in japan

A peek inside of my capsule at a capsule hotel in Japan

 

With the lack of hostel beds, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try a capsule hotel in Japan. I was intrigued by the sound of them and thought it would make a good story. Right? Wouldn’t you be curious to sleep inside of a capsule?

 

In Japan, capsule hotels are a common form of cheap accommodation. It’s a simple solution for packing a lot of people into a small space.

capsule hotel in japan

Capsules at a capsule hotel in Japan.

 

Checking in to my Capsule hotel in Japan

 

A few steps from Fukuoka’s Hakata train station you’ll find the Hotel Cabinas. In the lobby, guests take off their shoes and put them in a small locker before approaching the reception desk. At 11am, I was relieved they allowed me to half check in. This means I could stash my big backpack in the locker and was granted access to the spa area. To get into my capsule, I’d have to wait until 5pm.

capsule hotel in Japan

Stuffing my bags into the locker at the capsule hotel in Japan

 

That was fine by me and I ended up spending a good portion of the afternoon soaking in the five hot tubs they had on the 11th floor. The views out over the city were hard to beat. With showers, saunas, and hot tubs it was very much like the Korean sauna, or Jjimjilbang, that I experienced while traveling through Korea.

 

Enter the Capsule

 

I did sneak away from the spa for a while to explore Fukuoka and get a taste of their esteemed ramen noodle. As five o’clock rolled around I was getting excited to see what my capsule would be like. Each floor had long aisles of probably a hundred or more capsules, stacked two high. I choose the upper. Each capsule was little over two meters long, high enough to sit upright, and as wide as a single bed. A screen rolled down for a little privacy and darkness and a TV was installed for entertainment. An alarm clock was also included.

capsule hotel in Japan

inside my capsule

 

Night in the Capsule

 

Surprisingly the capsule didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. I got one of the best night’s sleep ever. Even though sound can get through the shade screen, it remained quiet inside the pod. Well rested, I went out for another bowl of ramen first thing in the morning before enjoying the hot tubs again.

 

A Very Japanese Experience

 

I didn’t see any foreigners at the hotel, it was primarily used by Japanese businessmen. Although there are a few varieties, this capsule hotel was considered better than average and for men only. The nice spa and bathhouse area, as well as restaurant, put Hotel Cabinas in a higher class.

capsule hotel in Japan

The outfit to be worn inside the capsule hotel.

 

 

Capsules are also a traveler’s security in the fact that you don’t have to stress about arriving late in a new city. Most likely there will be a capsule hotel near the train station, so you don’t have to worry about being forced to spend a fortune on a hotel. Moreover, on the occasion that a Saturday night reveler misses the last train home, he knows the capsule is there and won’t get stranded at the station.

 

I’m not sure why capsules haven’t caught on the rest of the world. There is always a market for budget accommodation and I found the capsule quite comfortable. This one cost me 3,900 yen ($42 US), but I’ve paid as low as 2,500 yen ($27) for a simpler capsule (without a spa) in a smaller city. That one allowed women as well as men.

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 15 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Google +, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

4 Comments

  1. Michael B. says:

    love the outfit they gave you! you’ll have to bring one home for me!

  2. zaleha says:

    Do this hotel capsulr accept female tourist?

  3. That’s pretty cool… I spent three weeks in Japan, and although I wanted to try out a capsule hotel, I stuck to regular hotel accommodations (had I been traveling alone instead of with a partner, I would have done it, but I actually found the hotels to be well priced during my visit in Spring 2010, especially when shared!)

    I do love the little robes all hotels in Japan provide to hang out, I think it’s a nice extra touch 🙂

  4. Yeah, you are right, Claus. Japan isn’t as expensive as people think. Now even more so with the weak yen.

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