Capsule Hotels   カプセルホテル

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The outside of a capsule hotel in Tokyo

Inside a capsule

A sento, a public Japanese bath

A sento, a public Japanese bath

Inside a capsule hotel

Guests in their capsule hotel cabins

A communal area in a capsule hotel

A very Japanese experience

Capsule hotels are often eagerly visited by foreign tourists while in Japan. What is it about them that fascinates visitors so much?

Capsule hotels are Japanese hotels where instead of rooms guests have simple cabins.

The concept

Capsule hotels have a very simple concept: a private space sufficient to hold a bed and perhaps a television. Many travelers don't need a whole room, and a private cabin in a shared dormitory is perfect. Your own cabin feels much more personal than sleeping in an open-plan dormitory.

Many visitors to Japan are curious about this type of hotel, and are eager to try one when they visit. For the Japanese, however, capsule hotels are a low-cost solution for when you have no other choice. It was traditionally the domain of tired salarymen who worked too late, too far from home to return.

Read : Unusual accommodation in Japan

Recently, the curiosity of tourists has led to the appearance of a new generation of capsule hotels in Japan, trendy, young and friendly. They are intended for students, backpackers, and the curious.

But is it comfortable?

You might imagine they are uncomfortable and unpleasant, but generally capsule hotels compensate with the presence of a sento (public bath). The common areas allow you to sit quietly or socialize with your neighbors in a friendly way. Some hotels focus on this friendly side, with a shared kitchen and a common living room available.

Read also : Sleeping in a shukubo, a temple inn

The cleanliness is generally very good - let's not forget that we are in Japan! There are separate floors for men and women, as well as mixed floors.

In dormitories, your possessions are secured in lockers near your capsule. Your cabin is made private either by a curtain or pull-down blind. The interior is small but there's space to move and sit up. There is wi-fi, an alarm clock, and a personal light. Sometimes there's a TV.

The downside

The older capsule hotels will look pretty depressing and run-down, with a lingering smell of old cigarette smoke. Opt for more modern or centrally located hotels aimed at a foreign clientele.

If you find yourself in a nice capsule hotel chain, you'll have a good night. However, there's always the risk of having noisy neighbors who wake you as they come and go, not to mention loud snorers! Many visitors return late after an evening out and leave early, so light sleepers may be inconvenienced.

But it is true that these hotels offer good prices, often between 3,000 and 7,000 yen ($27 to $63) a night. The capsule hotel experience is usually a one-night adventure for the curious, and seasoned backpackers will love it. For the more discerning, there are plenty of other excellent accommodation options available to you in Japan.

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