Each country has it’s own degree of accommodation. Some offer little more than wood shacks, while others leave you hard-pressed to find anything even remotely cheap. One of the great things about backpacking is the experience, not the accommodation. Most backpackers can’t spring on expensive hotels and rooms, and even if they could, the cash is better spent springing for a good time out with some new friends.
Fortunately, Japan is one of the best places to find a wide array of accommodation. Ranging from nearly free (literal) hole in the ground hostels, which look like old bomber bunkers and are completely open, to manga cafes, love hotels, and capsule hotels.
The only downside is the ‘features’ of each place. Dorm hostels are cheap, but leave you in a room with a dozen other, often loud, people, who always seem to snore or turn the lights on at 4AM. Love hotels are feature rich, but expensive, and only good for a couple hour nap. Private hostel rooms are the best option for feature to price ratio, but are hard to get for a night or two, as they are usually rented out before the previous person leaves.
Fortunately, for those wanting a quiet(ish) area with a TV and private enclosure, but only need a bed and roof over their head, capsule hotels provide the perfect solution. For many years, capsule hotels were unique to Japan. Designed to be cheap and easy for a nice nights sleep, capsule hotels look like enclosed bunk beds.
Each capsule is equipped with a small TV, mirror, alarm clock, and thin mattress. A curtain or bamboo screen closes the opening, and gives you a fairly sound-proof shell to relax in. The store generally has a common bathroom with showers, and vending machines for everything from food to under-clothing.
The typical price of capsule hotels range from $15 – $40, with most falling into the $20 range. Using a capsule hotel is simple, and simply requires a basic knowledge of Japanese customs.
1: Remove your shoes before entering.
2: Either check in or ask if there is a capsule available.
3: You will be given a robe, or yukata, and you will need to change into this before getting in your capsule.
4: Remain silent once you are in the sleeping area.
5: Enter your capsule head-first and close the curtain or bamboo screen.
6: Keep the TV volume low, and try not to disturb your neighbors.
7: Check out in time, which is usually 10AM.
8: Do not take the yukata with you – place it in a laundry bin.
Pay, request your shoe locker key, and bid the owner farewell.
That’s it! Enjoy yourself, and if you’re in Japan, be sure to stay in at least one capsule!