Approximately one month ago, after being ravaged by the Nagoya airport security officials, I checked into one of the most Japanese of creations, the mythical Capsule Hotel. With my hotel slippers on, I stepped out of the lift on the 7th floor, and was confronted by a scene that would not be out of place in a intergalactic sci-fi film. My initial impressions of this mysterious form of accommodation were: “this is the coolest thing, I have ever seen”.
Rows upon rows of double decker creme plastic moulded bed units (or space pods as I deemed them), lined the walls of the room. I crawled into my allotted number, to discover a TV, radio, and alarm clock were all built in to the set. I was fairly exhausted from the long days events so promptly found the bathroom and helped myself to a free single use disposable toothbrush. After searching the various shelves, I concluded that there was no toothpaste and resigned myself to the fact I would have to do without, whilst cursing the Japanese for their lack of dental hygiene. Seconds later, I was praising the Japanese for their ingenuity of invention as I discovered that the brushes were pre-impregnated with a suitable dose of minty cool toothpaste.
Back in the pod, I pulled the blind down and lay down looking forward to a good nights sleep. I thought I’d see what was on TV, but it appeared that there was only one channel. This channel appeared only to air Japanese porn – which I discovered blurs out any offending parts, so all you can see is a couple of naked people (sometimes more), who’s genitalia don't wish to be identified.
I rested my weary head on the rock hard bean bag pillow and tried to fall asleep, but this proved to be much harder than I originally envisaged. It was uncomfortably hot in the pod, and the air conditioning only came on periodically. Added to the noise from other men’s snoring, coughing, and porn channel watching, I soon realised it was going to be a long night. I discovered I had dropped off at one point when I was awoken by a bunch of rowdy drunkards, and then spent the rest of the night clock watching, urging the morning to come.
Capsule hotels are a refuge for the business man who just wants a bed for the night and a shave in the morning. Note I say businessman –women are not permitted in the majority of them. However they are really just compact youth hostels; being in your own pod tricks you into thinking you have your own zone, but in reality, you are still sharing a room with fifty other men. In conclusion, an interesting experience, but not one I’ll be rushing to repeat in a hurry.