Sleeping in a Male-Only Capsule Hotel in Tokyo

By Jakarta100bars
The best way to save money on a trip to Tokyo is to sleep in a capsule hotel. Depending on the location and the facilities, it costs from US$20 up to US$50 per night.

During my stay, I chose one of the cheapest capsule hotels in Tokyo, the male-only Oriental Capsule & Sauna in Ueno. It is a very convenient location to explore the city as both the Metro and the Japan Rail Yamanote Line are within 200 meters.

Rated above 7,5/10 on Booking.com and Agoda, the price is around US$20-25 per night. You can use HotelsCombined.com to compare the rates and find the best deals.

This capsule hotel, like many other in Tokyo, does not have individual showers and bathroom, meaning you will bathe naked in public. I was a bit disturbed at first as I was not expecting it, but then you get used to it. The advantage is that the public baths also have a sauna and a jacuzzi that you can use for free after you shower. 

Since there is only one public bathroom, women are not accepted in the hotel. Another possible explanation for this ban is that some naughty stuff happens in the spa, but I couldn't verify this information. You can try for yourself by getting a massage from 12am to 3am for 1,500 Yen (US$15) for 30 minutes or 2,800 Yen (US$28) for 60 minutes.

80% of the customers are probably Japanese office workers/sales representatives on business trips. Many do not even have a luggage, only a briefcase. They go to the sauna, get a massage, and sleep for a few hours. You have the option of staying for a short time and pay less: 8 hours for 1,800 Yen (US$18) or 3 hours for 1,100 Yen (US$11). In this case, you are not allowed to leave the premises until you check out.

Sleeping in a capsule hotel means you must obey to a certain number of rules. They can be confusing at first so I will explain them below:

Remove your shoes as you enter the reception area

As you enter the hotel reception on the 4th floor, you must immediately take off your shoes and use the plastic slippers provided. You can put your shoes in the small locker in the room on the left, then bring the key to the reception.

Check-in

Attracting foreigners is obviously part of the strategy of the hotel. The receptionists speak decent English and they take the time to answer your questions. The management has also installed posters and signs in English almost everywhere so you can pretty much understand how things work by yourself.

Luggage
Storage for larger luggage
Once you are done with the check-in, you will be given a key to a locker which is located on the 4th floor as well. The number on your key is the number of both your locker and your capsule, with the first digit corresponding to the floor number of the capsule. The locker provided is quite small so if you have a lot of luggage, you will need to keep them at the reception, free of charge.

Wearing a kimono
At this point, if you wish to access your bed or to take a bath, you must remove your clothes and wear a kimono. The kimono is provided and available in the locker with a towel.

The capsule
The capsules are located on the 5th, 6th and 7th floor inside large and quiet rooms.

They do not have a proper door, only a curtain. If you have valuables, it is therefore better to keep them in the safety box at the reception.

You will be provided with a clean towel and linens that you must put on by yourself. The mattress is not that comfortable, but decent enough for a few nights. Only one person is allowed per capsule. No eating or smoking is permitted but you have a smoking room on the 6th floor. Some customers on Booking.com or Agoda complained about the cigarette smell but that didn't bother me.

There is a small TV with only Japanese channels, among which, surprisingly, porn movies. There is also an alarm clock and a power socket. Be sure to bring your own plug adapter as they don't sell any at the reception.

Bathing
Grooming Room
The best part of sleeping in a capsule hotel in Tokyo is the sauna part. It is a cheap way to experience Japanese public bath, even though it is not as refined as visiting an actual Onsen.

An important rule is that is forbidden to persons with tattoos. Apparently, it is because they are associated with the mafia and anti-social behavior.

I'm not sure about the actual bathing protocol but I did the following by observing the Japanese around me: As you enter the baths, you take off all your clothes and put them in a box (without any locker). There are no towels provided on the spot so don't forget to bring the one from your capsule.

You must shower on a small plastic stool that you should rinse before and after sitting down. Shampoo and shower gel is provided. It is only after you've washed that you can use the sauna and the jacuzzi. Some Japanese were carrying a face towel with them the whole time.

Once finished, you can put the towels in the used bin (if you are not planning to use them again), dress up and go to the grooming room on the same floor (4th). There, you can shave, use gel, cut your nails, brush your teeth or dry your hair.

The facilities
Capsule hotels in Japan usually have a lot of interesting facilities and amenities for travelers. In Oriental, you have a coin washing machine, a dryer, a rest room, a grooming room, a casino (ground floor), a spa and several vending machines (alcohol, snacks, instant noodles). You can also buy shirts, ties or umbrellas.

Just outside the hotel, there are many cheap restaurants selling sushi or ramen. There is also a place where you can rent and watch DVDs all night long. It seems to be a red light area as several women offered me sexual services as I was walking around.

Oriental Men-Only Capsule and Sauna
Address in English: 6-9-9 Ueno, Taito 110-0005, Tokyo Prefecture
Address in Japanese: 台東区上野6丁目9-9, 上野, 東京, 日本 110-0005
Phone number: 03-3833-1501
Fax: 03-3833-6996
Nearest metro station: UENO.

You can see more pictures on their English website: Century Hotel - Oriental Capsule.

Check in at noon, check out at 11am. The price for walk-in guests (without prior reservation) is 3,000 Yen but you can find much cheaper online via Agoda or Booking.com. You can compare both sites on the comparator HotelsCombined: Oriental Capsule and Sauna.

Cash and credit cards are accepted.
Oriental Capsule Hotel from Outside

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