Sleeping in Japan (Part 1): Capsule Hotel

Capsule HotelThe first capsule hotel to open was in Osaka, Japan in 1979.  The need was driven mainly by travelers too intoxicated to safely get back home, or too embarrassed to face their spouses.  These hotels have extremely small “rooms” (capsules) intended to provide cheap and basic overnight accommodation for guests not requiring the services offered by more conventional hotels.  The capsules are often stacked side by side and two units top to bottom.  Also, most capsule hotels only service men. Clothes and shoes are sometimes exchanged for a Japanese yukata gown and slippers on entry.  The benefit of these hotels is convenience and price, usually around ¥2000-4000 (US$25–50) a night.  In fact, ~30% of guests are unemployed or underemployed.  [wiki]

Traditional capsule hotel 

Of all the capsule hotels in Japan, one stands out.  I’m referring to “9 Hours“, a one-of-a-kind ultra modern deluxe capsule hotel.  Its simplicity and functionality so refined, it feels like something Apple and IKEA would have made.

Useful links:

Below are the photos I took while staying over at 9 hours:

A plain entrance — It’s just off Kyoto’s busy Shijo Dori street….easy to miss on the right.

 On entering, remove shoes and place into shoe locker.  If you arrive early, don’t worry, they can hold your bag while you go explore Kyoto!

When you’re ready to settle in, go to your floor.  Women have 2-5th floor, while the men have 6-9th floor.  Everything is labeled.

Since capsule hotels are catered towards last minute drop guests, they don’t expect you to have prepared much, so they will provide the Japanese yukata night gown (so you don’t have to sleep in your jeans), power strip, cell phone charger and the usual amenities.  You can even rent a bike, buy a clean shirt or even ear plugs (you’ll actually need them, as your neighbors will be snoring)!

Every sign in the hotel stands out, and is easily understandable in English with icons.

You can store all your things in the locker area, and head over to the shower area.

After showering, make sure to visit the communal soaking pool around the corner.  Granted, being naked with other men was a little uncomfortable, but once you close your eyes and soak for a good 20 minutes, you’ll forget you’re even naked!  Embrace Japanese culture!

Time to sleep…enter the corridor of honeycombs!  It’s quiet and magical!  Looks like a place where robots from Transformers would sleep…if they did. 🙂

A view looking into the capsule.  Looks super hi tech!

At the end of the capsule is the alarm clock, power outlet, and light control.  The alarm clock actually doesn’t make sound, but turns on the light slowly so you wake up naturally.  Amazing!  The contoured pillow was exceptional comfortable!

A view looking out of the capsule.  The screen door comes down from the top handle.

hahha…I’m exaggerating the wake up process below =P  It was actually extremely comfortable waking up…the light would gradually turn on.  I would even go as far to say it was my best sleep there while in Japan!

Hungry Cactus’ verdict: A+

9 Hours is definitely worth the visit….an absolute solid recommendation for solo travelers passing through Kyoto.  Granted, each capsule is only for one person, so if you’re traveling with others like a spouse or children…be prepared to pay more than a regular hotel room!  But overall, I know you will enjoy this deluxe capsule experience!

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