This is what it’s like to stay in Japan’s tiny capsule hotels, and why they’re so important


Japan’s capsule hotels are convenient and comfortable, and that’s what visitors can expect when booking a stay at one of these unique hotels.

If everything is bigger in America (and even bigger in Texas), then some things are definitely smaller in Japan. Japan is famous for its capsule hotels (also called pot hotels). These are all types of hotels developed in Japan offering small rooms. There are several advantages and disadvantages of staying at these capsule hotels.

In most of the United States there is a lot of space, but Japan is densely populated and the space is very limited and expensive. So, to save space and expense, the Japanese designed capsule hotels to provide basic, inexpensive overnight accommodation. They are suitable for those who cannot afford or do not need larger and more expensive rooms.


What a capsule room and a hotel look like

The capsule rooms are roughly the length and width of a single bed and have enough space for the guest to crawl and sit on the bed. Walls are normally fiberglass or plastic, but can also be metal or wood.

  • Cut: The length and width of a single bed
  • Capsule Inn Osaka: The world’s first capsule hotel, opened in 1979

The amenities inside are basic (but they are there). Normally, it includes a small television, air conditioning, a power outlet, a mirror and an electronic console. The capsules are side by side and on top. There are steps or ladders to access the bedrooms on the second level (much like bunk beds). There are also doors or curtains that can be closed for more privacy.

  • Locking: Doors do not lock according to Japanese law
  • Understand : TV, socket, air conditioning
  • Approvals: Bathrooms and showers are shared

While the amenities inside the “room” reflect more of a small, conventional hotel room. The exterior is more like an inn. There is no room for a toilet or a shower in the capsule! These facilities are shared in common with guests sharing bathrooms, showers and dining rooms. With a Japanese touch, the capsule hotel can have a shared bath and sauna. Some hotels also have a lounge – you may need a place with a little more space!

  • Number: From 50 to 700 Capsules in a Hotel

Capsule hotels vary in size, some may have as few as 50 capsules while others may have as many as 700 (these often cater primarily to men). Some hotels have separate sections for men and women. Luggage and valuables are normally stored in lockers. Often, clothes and shoes are exchanged for a yukata (a Japanese dress) and slippers at the entrance. Tokyo has a number of unique capsule hotels and other hotels worth visiting.

Related: The 20 Smallest Hotels In The World (That Will Lead To Claustrophobes)

Capsules Vs Hostels

Today, the concept has grown outside of Japan and is found in other Asian countries like China, Hong Kong and Indonesia – they can even be seen at some airports in China. At airports, each capsule is a complete unit and they have been stacked on the airport floor. But capsule ideas can also be found further afield in places like Iceland and Belgium.

  • Disseminate: In Iceland and Belgium (probably more like a hostel)

At some point, capsule hotels start to look like hostels. In essence, they are comparable to placing bunk beds side by side, closing each bed, and accessing the bed from the front to the inside from the side. Then the end result is as if a hotel and a dormitory with bunk beds have a baby. Indeed, they are popular with Western backpackers looking for hostel accommodation in Japan.

  • Price: Â¥ 2000-4000 (18-37 USD)

While foreigners may be attracted to them because of the perceived Japanese exoticism about them. The main advantage is their low price. They normally cost 2,000 to 4,000 (18 to 37 USD) per night (Japan is an expensive country).

Related: 10 Best Things To Do In Japan

Japanese society and customers

Japanese society is different from Western culture. Many capsule hotels have been used by Japanese workers who stayed late after work or missed the last train home.

  • Karoshi: Japanese word meaning “Overworked Death”
  • Gwarosa: Korean word meaning “Death from overwork”
  • Over time: Japanese people often work long overtime
  • Travel time : In Toyoto, travel times are often long

In Japan, people often work long hours and overtime can take on a different meaning. Employees should always be at work before their boss and leave after their boss. In Japanese, they have a word “Karoshi” which translates directly to “Death from overwork” (in Korean, we say “gwarosa” or “death from overwork”.

For example, for many Japanese employees, they can leave work at 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. and must be back at work at 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. Their home can be about an hour away. A capsule hotel just for sleeping nearby makes sense.

Next: An Adventure In Tokyo Isn’t Complete Without Adding These To Your Itinerary


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