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A Place to Rest Your Head

Have you ever heard of a capsule hotel?

I hadn’t until I starting reading up on Tokyo, and was reminded of it again this week in JapanesePod101.com’s Survival Phrase lessons 9, 10, and 11 and SurvivalPhrases.com Japanese lessons 9 and 10.

Weekly Mansion

This is a photograph of the entrance to where I’m staying. [Photo by Emily Carsch]

Kapuseru hoteru, or capsule hotel, is not like any hotel people are used to in America and many other western cultures. While I have yet to stay in one, I hear they’re quite the experience and am looking forward to the day I get to try it out.

Here in Tokyo, the metro system stops at midnight and starts again at five in the morning. Taxis are usually very expensive making the metro the overall transportation of choice here. Often, it is easy to find yourself out in one of the fun districts of Tokyo past the stroke of twelve. This is where a capsule hotel comes in.

Looking for a place to stay until the wee hours of the morning? Renting a capsule might be what you are looking for. I hear it’s merely a bed and television, and that there is not even enough room to stand, but it’s a place to hang your hat until the trains start again in the morning.

I am staying in Akasaka, Tokyo, only five to ten minutes by foot from JapanesePod101.com’s headquarters. It is referred to as a weekly mansion and holds visitors that are staying in Tokyo longer than one vacations for, but not long enough to rent or buy a place of their own. I’ve seen a lot of models and businessmen in the building. I assume they are staying around two months like myself.

For the most part, it is a basic hoteru (hotel), with only a few exceptions. While I don’t know if this is true for all hotel rooms here in Tokyo, there are a few things that took my American expectations a bit of time to get used to in the place that I am staying.

There are no built-in closets in the room, only a small armoire. Instead of a big plush robe hanging in the closet, there are folded yukata, or light cotton kimonos, in a shelf. The beds do not have top sheets to sleep underneath, just a large comforter, which can get hot during the summer months! Finally, the thing that took the most adjusting to is the bathroom. For those of you that have been on a cruise ship, it is much like this.

It is very small and there is no space for storage (my toothbrush sits on my desk since it has no place in the bathroom!). The sink faucet has a nob one flips, which cuts the water from the sink and runs it into the connecting shower. To take a bath, one only needs to turn the sink faucet to the right to fill up the tub. One has to step up into the bathroom, because it is raised from the floor of the room. It also has a low ceiling; one of my tall friends who is at least 6’2” has to bend his knees a bit once inside.

If you’ve been to Tokyo and the surrounding area, I’d love to hear about your accommodations. Tell me about your experience as an okyakusama (customer)!

Talk to you soon!