How small can you make a room for someone to sleep in?
Capsule Hotel Fontaine Akasaka
4500 / night
In Japan, there are Capsule Hotels - each guest leases a sort of plastic coffin. It's usually around three feet by three feet by six feet, with a TV and a light hanging from the ceiling.
It's enough room to sleep and maybe sit up. But the only thing separating you from the rest of the capsules above, below, and all around you is a little cloth curtain. So if you're laying in there, and someone walks by, they're inches from your bare feet. If any of the forty to sixty other gents sleeping in the same large capsule-filled room snores or coughs or gets a mobile phone call, you're gonna hear it.
Bearing this in mind, I rolled into the Capsule Hotel Fontaine Akasaka with earplugs. It had been a late night wandering Roppongi so I was looking forward to sleeping in. First my earplugs came out and I woke up at 5.30am because some dudes were leaving their capsules. The last line I remember from my dream is "By the way, I'd like to see you on all fours again some time." Then I lodged my earplugs firmly in and fell back asleep hard; unfortunately, revelry and wakeup comes at 8.30 so they can kick everyone out of their capsule by 9am.
The rooms are so small, and unsecured, so you leave your bag at the front counter and you have a locker up on the third floor to change out of your street clothes and into a thin robe. It's all dudes there - this particular capsule hotel is rare because they allow women, only on weekends. Otherwise, it's a pure sausage party, with no tattoos allowed:
Me I love a good soak and bake, so I headed in with gusto. First you have to sit on these little stools and give yourself a thorough sudsing up:
While there had been many naked Japanese dudes in there chatting it up, conversation in the room stopped.
I slipped into the water quietly, joining three or four men. I closed my eyes and let the days of dragging my luggage around Tokyo seep out of my muscles. When I opened my eyes a minute later, the pool was empty.
It was 2am, which seemed to be rush hour at this hotel - many salarymen stumbling in in various states of drunkenness.
I sat through the hot tub, the cold soak, and the hot sauna (with a TV and a sort of humid girlie mag in it) repeatedly; I wasn't alone long. Certainly no one spoke english - I kinda wished I knew enough Japanese to say, "Hey, I don't understand you, go ahead and talk I'm just going to sit here."
Eventually I was tipsy, tired, and heat-addled enough to sleep hard in my plastic box.
The man sleeping in the coffin below me fell asleep with his clothes on, halfway in the capsule and halfway into the hallway. I climbed in over him with my camera and my notebook.