Monday, 2 March 2009

The Capsule Hotel

Not that I have researched this at all but Tokyo must be one of the only places with Capsule Hotels, right? Well even if it isn't it was top of my list of things to do during my time in Japan.While an experience that is predominately based around sleeping shouldn't really be anything to get excited about I'm pleased I did as it was one of the most bizarre experiences I have ever had. Not to mention one of the strangest ends to a night out as well!

At this point my knowledge of Capsule hotels was that firstly they were hotels filled with hundreds of tiny capsules to sleep in. Secondly they were single sex and Finally they were normally used by drunk businessmen who had missed their last train or out far to late for their wives to want them back home that night.

So I booked my capsule the night before we got to Tokyo in the ridiculously neon district of Tokyo called Shinjuku. If you try to picture Tokyo in your head you will more than likely be thinking of Shinjuku. The area is seriously built up and very busy and for that reason when we got there we could not find the hotel anywhere. It took over and hour and a lot of people asking later we finally found it. But only after being taken their by a man dressed as a frog.

The Capsule hotel turned out to be located in the red light district of Shinjuku which meant there were a lot of rather odd characters around as well as a lot of strip and hostess bars.

When I got into the hotel the reception was located on the 3rd floor of this huge office block. I stepped out of the lift and instantly had to take off my shoes. I then had to put them into a locker, take the key to reception who checked me in and then exchanged that key for another locker key where I could put my stuff and get changed into my robes, yes robes!. I had no idea that was part of the deal. I couldn't be asrsed to change into them then so popped briefly up to my capsule, number 6022, just to check it out and was impressed. I Had my own little TV, radio, mirror and alarm clock all in my own 6ft by 3ft capsule. Once we'd had a ganders at the capsules Tommy and I headed out into Shinjuku to see the city at night and have a few drinks. We watched some Japanese Baseball had a few beers and whiskys and caught a bit of the Chelsea Wigan game in a random bar. At around 2am we finally decided to head back to experience our first night in our capsules.

When we got back we were greeted by several drunk Japaneses men some in suits, some in robes, just generally staggering and swaying about the place. We got changed into our robes and decided to head towards the public bath and sauna which were still open. I took my towel from my locker and head on over. As I turned the corner to my surprise I was confronted by 20 or so naked Japanese men in the baths, having a shave, washing their hair and just generally going about their bathroom duties. So a little bit drunk I stripped off and headed in. It was at this point the ridiculousness of the situation hit me. It was 2am I had just been on a night out in Tokyo and now I was in an extremely hot Japanese public bath surrounded by naked Japs. My hairy western torso was quite the head tuner haha!

I could only last about 5 minutes in the bath before the heat made me dizzy. So got out and sat at one of the many little stools in front of mirrors doted round the room. Had a cheeky shave, washed my hair, then headed into the sauna. Once I was all done and dried I got into my robes and dried my hair with the hair dryer and headed up to my capsule. I had never felt so clean. I felt about seven again in my pyjamas on my way to bed after bath night before school on Monday. I got into my capsule closed my blind and had an absolutely terrible night sleep surround by noisy Japanese men on a very hard bed. But it was still awesome, was such an experience and so pleased I did it.


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