A Travellerspoint blog

Capsule Hotel, what does it mean?

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Osaka – 26th November 2011

What is it about Japanese and their obsession with small things, small men, small women, all of them comfortable to live in spaces with not enough room to swing a cat. The country is big or at least big enough, and I don’t think it is over-populated, well not on the scale of China that I have seen. The Cities though are busy, plenty of these ‘Japanese Business Men’ that the population seem to get into a song and dance about. So finding accommodation in Japan has been tricky, at first of course I was living the high life spending money on hotels, helping to fund the cost of that heated swimming pool we never used, even the gyms and all of those idle staff and those guys who stood at a door to open it for you, blimey, what a job, and I'm probably contributing to his wages. This is one of those hazards when travelling with the wife. So after our overindulgence in Hong Kong and Tokyo I ‘recommended’ that we would find truer Japanese culture and hospitality should we move out of these vile and anonymous institutions and ‘suggested’ that we try staying in guest houses of ‘more modest value’. The truth is that I didn’t want Takashi Nobu Tukunumo, or Fred to his English friends, opening the door for me every night for me. He might as well have opened up my dusty wallet and slipped out his own wages directly. So we stayed at ‘guest houses’ and had some successes, though where I really wanted to stay was a capsule hotel, only I knew that I could not wrap this concept into any pretty language that could convince The Geordie Princess to stay in a coffin for the night. This ‘cultural experience’ would have to wait until she was on the flight back home.

So I stayed at a capsule hotel, in fact I ended up staying at two but one was only an imitation, and a poor one at that, even though it was small and cramped it was far too inferior to be called a capsule. That is of course giving capsule hotels some kind of status which would be a little contradictory. I guess though that by Japanese definition, a capsule is a small enclosed space where one occupies oneself for the evening, so in that respect they were both the same. Okay, argument over, I stayed in two!!!

For those that have never heard of a capsule then I can help, but this is limited to what I know and the procedures around staying in a capsule hotel. I'm still pretty baffled by the whole thing, and I still have more questions than answers. But first let me try to explain what a capsule actually is.

As I said before, a capsule is a small space designed to fit one person in the horizontal position, the capsule I would guess is about 1m x 1m x 2m and made from a tough plastic, there is a little ventilation system to make sure that you have enough fresh air, and preventing it from becoming a natural methane chamber. There is a thin mat where you make your bed with the clean linen provided, and then you lay down in the horizontal position. There is not a lot to do in the capsule, there is a radio that didn’t seem to work but there is a TV just hanging from the ceiling that you better mind that you don’t crack your head on. You could browse through the channels as I did, naturally, and watch what Japanese garbage was on the box, plenty of cartoons, Sumo and some censored Japanese Porn, Ok, so this may in fact be one of the first clues as to what these Capsules are here for. Once you are done with all of that Japanese Porn (headsets available at the counter so you can enjoy audio commentary in privacy) then you may wish to relax in one of the comfortable relaxation areas, watch some more porn perhaps, play on the slot machines, sit and read some of the comics in the comic book library, or as I preferred, just get naked and get in the Onsen.

So this simple procedure I learned from observing these men and then repeating the procedure for yourself, I will keep it simple:

1. Walk into the hotel
2. Take your shoes off at the door
3. Put some slippers on and walk to the shoe locker on your right hand side
4. Put your smelly (but not as smelly as Mark Rabys) shoes in the locker
5. Take the key out and hand it to the gentleman behind the front desk
6. Check into the hotel
7. You will receive a key to a locker for your belongings
8. Go to the locker room which is on your left hand side, the female locker room is downstairs
9. Open the locker and then get out the pyjamas
10. Put on the pyjamas and take a picture of yourself in the mirror….
11. Go to your capsule and then make your bed.
12. You are now set to do as your wish, enjoy an onsen, relax in the relaxation room, read a comic or watch some TV.
13. Once you are through with relaxing then go to your capsule and go to sleep
14. Check out is a nice and early 10am

So I know the procedure, and now you do too, but what I still don’t understand is why these exist, it is a strange peculiar thing that as far as I am aware only exists in Japan (maybe China as well). I still don’t understand a lot about this peculiarity, you can book the room for the night or by the hour, the minimum length being 4 hours. I am told that it is for this damn ‘Japanese Business Man’. He may miss his train or he may need to escape from the wife, me I think these are all simply euphemisms for wanting a w*nk.

Interestingly enough there was actually a female floor with capsules dedicated to the Ladies, perhaps I could have convinced wifey to spend the night here, all in the name of ‘cultural learning’. I wonder what TV channels they put on there for the ladies, can't imagine any of that Censored stuff, more likely that it is a dubbed version of Eastenders, in which case she may have enjoyed it after all.

The Relaxation Room
The One Armed Bandits
The half mast pyjamas they give you!!! what a sight....
Inside the plastic coffin
Claustrophobic??? Then go to New Zealand

Video Tour

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 09:40 Archived in Japan Tagged osaka hotel capsule Comments (0)

Japanese Business Man you say???

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Who is the phantom that is the Japanese Business Man??

Ok, so who is this ‘Japanese Business Man’? He keeps on being mentioned in some of the conversations that I have with locals. I imagine him to be a hardworking Japanese man, named Kawasaki, he is quite a traditional man but who is a man of stature and respect, he is revered by his subordinates and is worshipped by all who meet him.

But the more I listen to people the more I realise that the term ‘Japanese Business Man’ refers to pretty much any Japanese Man in a Suit. All I see in Japan is men wearing suits, everywhere I look they are there, on the subway sat down reading a comic, next to another one stood up on his PSP playing some kind of Mortal Kombat arcade game. Are you telling me they are all business men, come on, in this army of Suited Dandy’s there has got to be one of them who is not cutting high level deals over the board room table.

What I know now of course is that they say Business Man what they really mean is, a Man in a Suit. We say Business Man, what we mean is Alan Sugar, Richard Branson or maybe Del Boy or Frank Butcher. Me, I like to think of Paul Robinson from Ramsay Street, he always did it for me.
But these Japanese Business Men, these men in suits, they read comic books, they watch cartoons and they sleep on the benches. No shit, they go out they have beers and the streets are that safe in Japan, that they sleep in the streets. If they prepare enough, they might get a business or capsule hotel, if that fails and they have no train ticket home, then sod it, they will lay on a bench and curl up into the foetal position, and what better than to be able to wake up outside your office, that’s a quick commute if I have ever heard one. Can you imagine Alan Sugar or Richard Branson reading comics, or sleeping on the bench? Well the answer is no.

What I would like to know is which one of these is the highly dressed admin assistant? It’s difficult to work out, what I'm looking at here is the Terracotta Army of ‘Japanese Business Men’.

All Chiefs and no Indians this place!!

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 09:22 Archived in Japan Tagged man business Comments (0)

A dash more seasoning Ms Geisha…?

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Kyoto - 24th November

Well here they are in all their glory, Japans very famous cookery duo, together these two run a show on Japanese Terrestrial TV where they shuffle about on their wooden clogs, serving tea and cooking up a splendid dish of flavour of the Japanese Month.

Let me introduce you to the ‘Two Fat Geishas’ enroute to cook up some tasty dish, and probably scoff it all themselves.


Here we have Camilla Batmanghelidjh in a pasty white complection, with her shorter though just as ample side kick, Camilla Batmanghelidjh the II

Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Wright must both be shaking in their boots, if Jennifer was alive that is…. Maybe its just as well….

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 08:58 Archived in Japan Tagged kyoto geisha Comments (0)

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