Capsule Hotel Experience (カプセルホテル)

Capsule Hotel Experience (カプセルホテル) 

When one thinks of Japan, things like Onsen, Fuji-san, or the sky tree are sure to be part of the image that pops up. But more recently, ryokan have become a rather famous experience which includes not only a traditional perspective of Japanese culture; food and lodging but also some aesthetic pictures to boot! – but what about the budget travelers who want to experience a different style of Japanese culture? Rather than Ryokan, capsule hotels have become a new experience for the budget traveler.

When I went to Japan as an exchange student in 2015-16, capsule hotels were still mostly unknown and not too popular with many travelers who knew little about Japan. Since then, the market has changed greatly – a night in a capsule hotel has become a near staple experience for an interested traveler which also reflects itself in the locations and appearances of capsule hotels themselves. 

While capsule hotels originally were a more stereotypical cheap place to stay for drunk Japanese salarymen that had missed the train – nowadays many capsule hotels will be filled with foreigners eager to experience a new part of Japanese culture or a cheap place to stay all in one. 

But what does that experience really entail? A crowded hallway, limited bathrooms and unexpected noises while you are trying to sleep; and worst of all, the air conditioner inexplicedly seems to only work at the other side of the room. If I talk about capsule hotels like that it will surely sound awful to many, and while there were certainly bad parts about the experience – there were also plenty nice ones! 

Every morning and sometimes evening we would sit in the common area to eat our food, because of the strict “no eating in the cabins” rule everyone would gather there and a great opportunity to meet people and exchange experiences would arrive! One of my favorite things about my capsule hotel stay was the people I met through it – some of them I am still in contact with today! 

While your space will be small and you might feel a bit frustrated about where to put your luggage, staying in a capsule hotel – depending on which you choose – is both a great way to save money and meet new people! Especially for longer travels capsule hotels might be a good choice since it includes things such as washers and driers as well as any important things that might not be available at hotels (though AriBnb´s are certainly an option.) Our capsule hotel – though this may not apply for all – also offered free participation in a Mochi Tsuki (餅つき) event which we otherwise never would´ve been able to join so easily!

All in all i enjoyed my stay at the capsule hotel for the five days that I was there – and even though I got sick and stayed in bed for most of these days, i still managed to make a bunch of experiences and meet people while still staying “home” to rest. If you are a solo travellor or would like to meet new people and save some money then i recommend the capsule hotel experience wholeheartedly!

Ari Boettcher

Ari - Freelance Writer and Illustrator with an interest in Japan and Japanese culture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *