It’s ten pm or there abouts and I’m watching Helen Mirren; Prime Suspect, dubbed into Japanese in a booth thats 2 foot by 3 foot by 6 foot and that seems pretty average by my, albeit fresh, view of Japan so far.
A few hours earlier and I’m introduced to my capsule on the fifth floor of the Riverside Capsule Hotel. The room is kept in the back of the floor, like it’s a closet for the linen or something. There is a section where there are a few small lockers,enough to keep a small item of luggage, hang your clothes and containing your pyjames (indoor clothing, whatever) and a towel. Beside this is a group wash area and then, behind another door, a room that, if I didn’t know better,contained what looked like a batch of washing machines.
And one of these washing machines is my capsule (capsule 510, to be exact).This is where I’m going to be sleeping tonight.
“Mr Wuuu, are you OK Mr Wuuu,” the lady from the desk downstairs is obviously worried that Ive been away too long and has followed me up to check if I’m alright. We’ve already had a (now altogether too common, despite my brevity in Japan) breakdown in communication when I almost went upstairs not wearing my indoor shoes (in this hotel you have to check your shoes in the reception when you arrive and change into standard issue slippers for when your inside the building)and she’s now probably worried that I’ve gotten lost or fallen off the edge or something. “You check out the nineth floor Mr Wuuu, rest area, rest area.”
The nineth floor, with a really interesting view of the river, is a communal area for the residents. It contains washing machines, toilet facilities, Japanese pinball machines and the mens Onsen room (the only way of washing, by the way.)which is basically a communal (male) bath room where you have to stip naked, vigerously wash yourself in the middle of the floor and then get into a giant roasting hot water bath, all in front of a giant window overlooking the river. I experience this at 5.30 the following morning when jetlag wakes me early and I am too freaked out to experience it with the mainly older Japanese men that occupy the hotel (well, it’s mainly older Japanese men and tourists that occupy the hotel)
Me, in my booth, watching the Japanese shopping channel.
Alarm, TV, radio. What more could you ask/need
I was originally a little worried about spending my first night in Tokyo in a capsule hotel but I have to say it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I would highly recommend it as a must to anyone who is visiting Japan. Once night time came and I clambored into the capsule, watched a bit of crazydubbed BBC drama and settled down to sleep I really had quite an enjoyable experience.You can definitely hear other people moving around but no more than in a hostel and you have a privacy that you wouldn’t experience in any hostel.Apart from it being a bit too humid inside my little pod I would have no complaints about the experience and it perfectly represents the fucked up different culture of this alien place.