Capsule hotels in Japan are a type of hotel offering accommodation in teeny, tiny "rooms" which are essentially capsules. Capsules are entered through a series of openings all along a wall where there are many of these capsules stacked together. The very first hotel featuring capsule accommodations was Capsule Inn Osaka. The idea of this Japan capsule hotel was born from the imagination of Kisho Noriaki Kurokawa, a former star architectural student of Kyoto University. The Osaka Capsule Inn in Japan opened on February 1, 1979 in Osaka's Omeda District.
The Capsule Inn in Japan was received at first with speculation, yet became a huge success with traveling businessmen looking for cheap accommodations affording basic amenities. Tourists have long since picked up on this unique lodging option and often stay a night or two for an authentic experience during vacations in Japan. For a country with such an enormous population and little land comparatively, capsule hotels are a wise endeavor. Females should note that many capsule hotels permit male guests only so be sure to check before making plans.
The size of Tokyo affords a large number of excellent capsule hotels to choose from, from female-only accommodations to hotels that host both sexes. Ace Inn Shinjuku is one of the most preferred capsule hotels in Tokyo. It offers one floor reserved for women only that is kept completely separate from the men. Tokyo Subway Akebonobashi Station is the nearest station to this hotel and offers good access to many city attractions and prominent points of interest. Ikebukuro station is only five minutes from the Ikibukuro Hotel, a Tokyo capsule hotel that accepts men only. This Japanese hotel offers guests the use of Finnish-style sauna with both a high and low-temperature room. There is also a massage service onsite as well as a restaurant open all day and late into the evening. Both the Capsule Inn Akihabara near Akihabara Station and the Capsule Shinjuku 510-Ladies 510 offer separate floors for female travelers.
The original Capsule Inn in Japan is designed much like the many capsule hotels in Japan that proceeded it. There are two main areas—the private space where the capsules are and a public area that often includes a public lounge, a bathing area, and a sauna as well. At a Japan capsule hotel, each unit is built from reinforced plastics and designed much like an airplane cockpit. Every amenity is easily reached while lying down. Some Tokyo hotels, Kyoto hotels, and other hotels that offer capsule rooms also provide separate floors for men and women. This can offer a sense of safety and security for solo female travelers.
Though definitely not for the claustrophobic, capsule rooms are somewhat similar to sleeper train accommodations, albeit on trains the sleeping quarters are not fully closed in like the capsule rooms. Each guest has his or her own space at a Japan capsule hotel which is roughly 4 feet by 3 feet by 6 feet. Inside, there are a few select amenities such as a TV, a light, and an alarm clock. These are standard across all capsule hotels. One side (the entry) of the capsule is open and can be concealed by a screen or curtain. Each guest receives a key to access a baggage storage locker outside of the capsule. Large bags can be difficult to fit. Light sleepers might consider using earplugs when staying in capsule hotels in Japan as the units aren't sound-proof.
For as low as a few thousand yen, visitors can see what it's like to sleep in their own capsule. which is definitely one of the unique experiences of traveling in Japan. Tokyo has the largest number of these hotels but the original Osaka Capsule Inn in Japan is still one of the most popular. Visitors can explore the history behind the original capsule hotel architect, Kurokawa's ideas of efficient use of space, and concepts of sustainable elements in architecture. These elements together combined to pave the way for many more innovative designers in Japan, and around the world, today. The capsule hotel is not only a nod to old architecture showing signs of modern elements, but is also one of the top-rated styles of cheap hotels in the world.