Hardly any article about Japanese culture seems to find a way around Capsule Hotels, one of the major things non-Japanese people point at, saying: “What a weird country Japan is!“
Despite its fame, I never felt the urge to seek one out until the very last day of my first year in Japan, when I had time to kill at Narita airport between two long-distance flights.
So, in hope for some hours of knock-out sleep, mixed with mild curiosity what the fuss was all about, I checked into my first ever capsule hotel.
Having spent a great deal of my life so far traveling as cheap as possible, I’ve had my fair share of strangers sleeping (and snoring) in hostel bunk beds underneath me or on airport benches next to me. I’ve learnt to ignore noise, light and cold. (Or waking up at 4am, finding a creepy man staring at me intensely from only 2 meters away, not knowing how long he’d been doing that while I was asleep. Good times!) A capsule all to myself seemed like luxury compared to that.
I’m sorry if this disappoints you, but a capsule hotel is not much different from a European hostel. Think about it: All you do is share a sleeping facility with other people for an affordable price. It just looks different – a bit like oversized bathtubs stacked on top of each other.
The only differences to a hostel are pleasant ones:
It’s clean. – But what else would you expect in Japan?
It’s quiet. – People are careful not to make any noise.
It’s efficient, space-wise. – This might be the German in me talking, I admit.
It’s safe. – Personal belongings can be kept in a locker.
Additional perk for me: Where I stayed, male and female floors were clearly separated. No chance for creepy guys staring at me while I was sleeping. (Yay!)
That’s pretty much all I have to say about capsule hotels. Moral of this short story: Japan is not as weird as you might think it is.
At least not regarding this topic.