Quick, think of a hotel in the United States where you can stay for $30 a night. Come up with anything? Well, they’ve got that option in Japan — only the rooms are a little small.
Actually, they’re really small.
Here’s what a capsule hotel in Japan looks like. For $30 a night, you can sleep in a tube with a glass door that’s a little bigger than a body drawer at a morgue. Each tube has a television screen that flips down, and a pull-down screen that’s not exactly solid, but provides something like privacy.
These cheap-rent capsule rooms were designed for businessmen (yes, they’re mostly for men — in fact, some capsule hotels only allow men to stay. Like the ones in the red light district.) who commute and don’t have time to go home during the week. Each capsule holds a mattress, a pillow, a built-in radio and alarm clock, and a bunch of buttons and dials.
There are controls for turning on, dimming, and turning off the light. There’s an on/off button for the television, and another button to change the channels. There’s also a big red button, which you have to pay to press. It’s the porn button, and it costs around 300 yen (so don’t push it more than once).
Obviously, capsule hotel “rooms” don’t have showers or toilets. There are communal facilities for that, and various amenities on the premises. Some of these hotels have TV rooms with recliners, restaurants, bars, sento baths (communal bathing where everybody gets naked together), and/or a small store offering the basics: ties, belts, undershirts, and drawers. A few capsule hotels (generally the men-only locations) offer massages for an extra fee.
Although it might be an interesting spectacle, the massages are not given in the capsules.
I think we could really use these things in the United States. Would you stay in a capsule hotel?