How on the earth did I end up at a Japanese Capsule Hotel in Tokyo? Well, it all started when Cathay Pacific Airlines Left Me Stranded in Tokyo for 24 Hours and I detailed my Crazy Adventures in Tokyo During an Unexpected Layover. The Japanese Capsule hotel I booked was called the First Inn Kyobashi and it was located near the Kyobashi metro station in Tokyo.
I booked the hotel for 3600 Yen ~ ($35.49 USD) taxes included. It was a 8 minute walk from Tokyo Station to the hotel area. I had GPS on my iPhone and was able to pinpoint the location of the hotel, but I had a hard time finding it since the street signs are not in English. I was circling the block full of alleyways and finally found the First Inn Kyobashi.
I approached the two men in the front desk and told them I had a reservation. They pulled up my reservation which had already been printed beforehand and asked me for 3,600 Yen since it wasn’t a prepaid reservation. I handed over a 10,000 Yen note and received change in coins and 1,000 notes. Afterwards, he handed me a key that said 331. Then I inquired about the internet at the capsule hotel and he proceeded to point to the WiFi spot on my phone. Then I asked, “What’s the password?” and he did not know how to say it in English and kept saying “Japanese”. I don’t have a Japanese character keyboard on my iPhone installed and these guys couldn’t speak a lick of English. I told them that I would be going out to eat (making a hand motion of a spoon to my mouth) and told them I would come back later. He asked me for the key back and I asked if the front desk would be open and he said that it was 24 hours.
I went out to the bar scene near Tokyo Station and by that time, I was hungry and ended up at a Yoshinoya which was the only place open at 2am. I was drunk, my iPhone battery was low, and I was fatigued from all this traveling. At this point, I just wanted to go back to the hotel and get some shut eye. I realized that I was going to be at a capsule hotel and didn’t know what to expect since I didn’t see the room yet.
I got back to the hotel and was given my key with the numbers 331 written on it. I headed to the third floor where I saw a bunch of capsules. I proceeded to find a locker with the numbers 331. I left all my belongings at the Hilton Narita airport and all I brought was a portable battery charger. The locker was small and there was no way any suitcase was able to fit in there. I realized that I was not the only there and I can hear basically everything from my neighbor turning on his reading light to the communal bathroom door being opened and closed.
I’ve never stayed in a communal dormitory style accommodation before and haven’t stayed at a hostel even though I considered staying at one in Rio. There was a small TV, a thin mattress pad, pillow, and pajamas. There was also an electrical outlet port for two devices and a reading light. I liked that there was a privacy shade which was basically a curtain and not soundproof.
I thought to myself that the most frightening that could happen would be someone coming into my capsule to steal my iPhone and locker key which has access to my passport and wallet. That’s the worst that can happen so I hid my phone and key under my pillow. For some reason, I always think of the worse possible scenario.
I woke up at 6:30am and thankfully no one invaded my privacy. I only slept for a few hours and couldn’t wait to get out of the place! I visited the bathroom and ventured off into exploring the Ginza, Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku neighborhoods of Tokyo.
I took the 12pm bus from Ginza station to Narita airport which was 1,000 Yen ~($9.85 USD). It took roughly 70 minutes to Narita airport where I missed the hourly shuttle, so I took a cab. The cab ride ended up being 1900 Yen ~($18.73 USD) which was ridiculously expensive for a 7 minute ride to the Hilton Narita hotel. I didn’t want to wait for the 2pm shuttle because that was my check-out time. In the end, the manager let me check out at 3pm since I had a flight at 5:25pm. I took the most amazing shower ever after being in the same clothes for two days.
Would I ever stay at a Capsule hotel again? Probably not. The novelty has already worn off. Did I enjoy my stay in Tokyo in the short amount of time I had? Of course!
What would you have done if you were in my shoes?