Posts Tagged capsule hotel

January 11, 2006 part 2 – How not to use a sento

Disclaimer: UPS is the nickname of one of my friends visiting Japan. This post has nothing to do with United Parcel Service.
Image courtesy of the good folks at Wikipedia

Image courtesy of the good folks at Wikipedia

After an epic night out in Roppongi, I woke up in my tiny coffin at the capsule hotel in Shibuya. It had not been a restful night, as people in the other capsules were snoring impressively. Also, someone’s alarm clock starting ringing just before 6:00am and continued for about half an hour. My head was spinning and I was tired from lack of sleep. UPS got me out of my capsule and we decided to get cleaned up and checked out. The capsule hotel featured a sento style bath, which UPS was eager to try out in the name of gaining cultural experience. I had never been to a sento before but I knew the general idea – clean yourself first, then sit in the shared bath.
We walked into the changing room outside the bath, still wearing the yukatas that we changed into when we checked in. There were large wicker baskets, which we assumed were for holding our yukatas and personal items. There were also two stacks of towels – large bath towels, and smaller towels that looked like long facecloths.
UPS and I removed our yukatas and underwear, wrapped the large towels around our waists, and walked into the bath area. The first thing we noticed (other than the other hungover naked men) was that nobody had the large bath towels in this area. We returned to the changing room, left the bath towels in our baskets, and confidently reentered the bathing area nude.
As we walked in, we got some very strange looks from two men who were walking out. At first I assumed that the cause of the strange look was that UPS and I were very brown and ghostly pale, respectively. However I quickly realized that everyone in the bath area were covering their naughty bits with one of the smaller towels, while we were exposing ourselves to the entire room. We quickly returned to the changing room one more time, this time equipped with privacy towels to hide our foreign members.
UPS and I proceeded to the washing stations. Each was equipped with a small bucket to sit on, a hand held shower nozzle, a mirror, and an impressive array of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. I reminded UPS that we had to be completely clean
and soap free before moving into the bath. After a few minutes of hungover scrubbing, we moved over to the tub of extremely hot water to soak.
Japanese people have a national obsession with soaking naked in extremely hot water. I’m sure it’s relaxing for some, but the experience for me was like being boiled alive. After only a few minutes I needed to get out. UPS suggested we check out the nearby sauna room. Nobody else was in the sauna when we entered. We took a seat and pretended we could understand the business report showing on the wall mounted TV. After a few minutes, a Japanese man entered the room. He took one look at the two foreigners inside, turned around, and walked right back out the door. We laughed at how unpopular we were in the bathing area.
The rest of our time at the capsule hotel was uneventful. We shaved with free individual use razors. We brushed our teeth with free individual use toothbrushes. We ate a free but unmemorable breakfast, got dressed, then checked out. I still couldn’t believe that we had just stayed in Shibuya for just over 3000 yen. My only complaints were the rampant snoring and my hangover, and only one of those could really be blamed on the hotel.

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January 11, 2006 part 1 – Finding Capsule Land

Disclaimer: UPS is the nickname of one of my friends visiting Japan. This post has nothing to do with United Parcel Service.

After an eventful evening in Roppongi where we drank at 5 different bars, UPS and I were looking for a place to sleep for the night. I was happy to find a nearby hotel, but UPS insisted that on his last night in Japan he wanted to stay in a capsule hotel.

A capsule hotel is a cheap option for a place to sleep if you don’t have a problem with small spaces. Instead of a room, you rent a small capsule to sleep in for the night. I had heard of capsule hotels before I moved to Japan, but had never stayed in one. In the interests of being a good host and trying new things, I agreed and decided to use my Japanese language skills to find us a capsule hotel.

We walked towards the big Koban across from Roppongi station. The police officer at the front appeared a bit nervous as we approached, probably because he had interacted with more than his share of drunk foreigners in English before. He appeared to relax when I greeted him politely in and managed to ask him where the nearest capsule hotel was in decent Japanese. This was particularly impressive considering the amount of beer I had consumed over the evening. The officer told me that there were no capsule hotels in Roppongi and that I would have better luck in Shibuya. Since the trains had already stopped, he pointed out where the nearest taxi stand was. I thanked him and we were on our way.

The taxi driver did not seem too pleased about transporting two obviously drunk gaijins somewhere after 2:00am. We were fascinated by the street level view of one of the world’s biggest cities. The cab ride didn’t take long and cost about 1200 yen ($12).

We got out at the Hachiko exit at Shibuya station, and I asked directions from a nearby Koban while UPS hung out at the famous dog statue. Hachiko is a well known meeting place, and after explaining the story I got a picture of a very tired looking UPS next to Japan’s most loyal dog. We set out for a large capsule hotel building called “Capsule Land” which was just up the street.


On the way we had another interesting encounter; UPS managed to get propositioned by a street prostitute. For real.

I didn’t even think there were any street prostitutes in Japan, so this was all the more surprising. As we slowly walked up the hill, she said “hi”, put her head on his shoulder, and said in an adorable voice “Sex? Sex??”. UPS said no thank you. She nodded her head yes while saying, slightly more confidently, “Sex! Sex.” this time as a statement, not a question. We somehow politely removed ourselves from her rather pleasant company and laughed about the ridiculous situations we had experienced during the evening while we continued walking to Capsule Land.

There aren’t too many other situations where talking to two police officers and a hooker would constitute a good evening. I love having visitors!

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