They have been the inspiration for budget style accommodation in London, NY, Amsterdam and Malaysia but no-one has quite managed to grasp the unique design of the ‘Capsule hotel’ phenomenon in Japan.
The Capsule Inn Osaka was the first capsule hotel which opened in 1977 and was designed by the late, legendary Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa known for his contribution to Japanese architecture as well as one of the founders of the Metabolist movement. His design has been an inspiration for budget accommodation abroad, aspects of The 5th Element film sets and has sheltered thousands of Japanese businessmen over the years who have missed trains home after work.
The majority of Capsule hotels in Japan today are still men only but more and more are expanding to cater for women due to an increase in working women as well as the economic slump in the ’80s when business was at a low, resulting in many hotels introducing women as a part of their clientele to boost sales.
Capsule hotels are primarily for business men who work late or wish to enjoy a few drinks after work and miss their train ride home. Instead of paying high prices for a cab home or for other star rated hotels in the area, more and more people are checking into these convenient, cheap, accommodating capsule hotels.
The Green Plaza in Shinjuku Tokyo boasts a huge 630 capsules within a seven floor building which includes, capsules, saunas, spas, a variety of massage treatments, a restaurant and a rest area during the day. Welcome to the largest Capsule hotel in Japan. Two floors are dedicated to corridors of double-decked coffin like compartments throughout. What may look at first glance as a claustrophobic breeding pod from The Matrix, once inside each pod is actually a rather spacious compartment equipped with a TV, radio, alarm, shelf and blind for a great night’s sleep. You can even charge your mobile phone in one of the phone charging booths. When checking in you will receive a wrist band with a number on it which is also the number of your locker and capsule. Within the locker you will find a robe and towels. You can opt for standard capsule at ¥4,300 per night or go for an upgrade which includes an air purifier at ¥4,800. Either way the price per night includes the use of all the facilities within the building. Although the Green Plaza doesn’t have capsules for women, there are three floors of pampering for women to enjoy during the day.
In Akihabara, the Capsule Inn along with few others, has changed their traditional views and now caters for women. Two floors are dedicated to women and the other 5 are solely for men. As women today are still rather apprehensive about safety, the Capsule Inn has a lock on the entrance to the women’s capsule hall, a gesture that is not seen on the men’s floors. Room rates are around ¥4,000 per night with amenities are included in the rate.
If you’re with a group, why not stay in a dorm style capsule room to spend with friends on a night out or just for the experience? Here too you can get your phone charged and even buy clean undies or a shirt and tie for the next day at work.
Kisho Kurokawa Official Website: www.kisho.co.jp
Capsule Hotel Inn Osaka (Japanese site): www.capsulehotel-inn-osaka.com/
Capsule Inn Akihabara: www.capsuleinn.com
Green Plaza Shinjuku (Japanese site) www.hgpshinjuku.jp
Movie of the interior: www.hgpshinjuku.jp/movie/index.html
Green Plaza Shinjuku info (PDF link): www.hgpshinjuku.jp/info/english.pdf
Story by Laura Buckwell
All Rights Reserved, Spinshell Inc.
Spinshell Reports are three minute episodes of useful information about visiting and living in Japan.
- Takarazuka – Is the Ideal Man a Woman?
- Are You Single in the City?
- Getting Married in Japan
- Big in Japan: The Foreign Music Scene
- Expecting in Tokyo Part 1