From one accommodation extreme to the next...Saturday night spent in a temple with monks in the mountains of the beautiful and serene Koyasan and Sunday night in a quirky capsule hotel smack bang in the middle of "America-town" in the bustling Osaka. You have to love Japan!
My bed, top floor
For anyone who has no idea what a capsule hotel is, its basically a type of hotel in Japan with extremely small rooms (aka capsules). They're usually men only but some have a ladies floor. They were initially designed for men too inebriated to travel home or to embarrassed to face their spouses. The best thing is that they're super cheap, like around £20 per night. Some people in Japan even rent them on a monthly basis as they're so cheap.
Once we entered our capsule (http://www.asahiplaza.co.jp/) we put our "outdoor" shoes into lockers and checked in no probs. I had initially expected some kind of unmanned reception with vending machines that spit out your keys (this is the case for some capsules) but there were actually humans there to check us in, wow! Locker keys in hand we went down to our ladies floor which we accessed via a key. Once inside, we went to find our capsules, all very exciting!
Home for the night, look like morgue chambers don't they?
They weren't half as small and claustrophobic as I thought they would be although it did look like we'd just walked into a scene from CSI, these morgue type chambers stacked up both sides, spooky!
Mine was at the top so I had a little ladder to help me get in.Once I crawled inside it really wasn't that small, I could sit up easily and mine had a built in TV inside, pretty darn cosy if you ask me! No doors of course, just a screen that you pull down for privacy.
I also thought it would be like a noisy hostel full of young drunken travellers running about everywhere but no. It was so quiet, everyone respects the need for peace and quiet. When we first saw our capsules though, we did get a bit over excited and started taking pictures of each other hanging out of our capsules remarking on "how lucky it was no-one was about". To our dismay, some girl shouted out in English "I am" Well that taught us! We didn't make a sound after that.Kari and I squeezed into her capsule (silently of course!)
On the ladies floor there is was a locker area where you have to store all of your stuff. They even give you pyjamas, a yukata (summer kimono) and a towel! There was a relaxation room, a sauna and sento (small bath) room for freshening up and a huge vanity area. All you need really! We got ready for our night on the tiles in Osaka and went out wondering whether the ladder up to my capsule might turn into a challenge after a few drinks...
5am, 9 hours later...Crawled into our capsules amazingly managing not to fall up or down the ladder. Had a wonderfully peaceful sleep in my little capsule for the night!