A Capsule Hotel in Asakusa
January 1, 1970
My Capsule Hotel Experience
Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun. How many of us have dreamt of travelling this melting pot of culture and food? Well, please bear with me as I cannot stress how much I love going around this country! What made Japan so unique were the constant quirks and hidden surprises along my travels around there. One of the few things that caught my attention was the capsule hotel I had stayed at at Asakusa
What is a Capsule Hotel?
A capsule hotel is a cheap accommodation option for businessmen in Japan who have missed the last train home after work or perhaps after a drinking session. They will simply check in, grab a quick snooze and then head to work again the next morning. Some capsule hotels even offer ties, socks, or even a new shirt for them to purchase before they head off. Most capsule hotels in the past were for only males but a few lately have begin opening up sections for females once the novelty started with foreign backpackers like me.
The Capsule Hotel I stayed at
One such capsule hotel that admitted females was the Capsule Hotel Asakusa Riverside , Tokyo which I stayed for a night for a total of 3215 yen. It was not the cheapest accommodation but it was an experience I wanted and I have not explored Asakusa yet, so the capsule hotel it was!
Getting to Asakusa
Getting to Asakusa first of all, was a harrowing experience for first timers in Tokyo like me as you need to change from the main JR line to either the Toei Subway Asakusa line or the Tokyo Metro Ginza line. You will need to check if your cash card (I used Suica which can be purchased at train stations) or Japan Rail Pass covers these lines. Alternatively, you can buy tickets at the machines.
Arriving at Asakusa
Upon exiting the subway, there was a pretty shopping centre (Matsuya Department Store) which I think can be the landmark for finding the subway if you get lost.
When I arrived at Asakusa, it was already nightfall and I was eager to check in straightaway. The capsule hotel proved easy to find as you just have to spot Burger King and walk straight ahead until you see the Capsule Hotel Asakusa Riverside. The name as easy enough will be able to tell you where it is as it is indeed next to the riverside (to the right of this picture):
Checking into Capsule Hotel Asakusa Riverside
The checking in process was easy enough as I had booked in advance. Upon receiving my set of keys and card, I was supposed to take off my shoes, place them in the numbered shoe racks and change into the slippers provided. I then took the elevator up to the floor which was for only female guests.
When I reached my floor, I entered and was greeted by a row of capsules and what struck me was how silent it was despite being almost fully occupied by people in them!
Exploring my capsule
As you can see, capsules were double stacked row by row and were numbered as well. My bunk was the upper one and I had to climb the small steps that led to it which looked easy but it wasn’t really (Mind your step if you climbed with socks on!) While the whole capsule was long enough for my asian height (5ft5), I believe taller travelers would find it annoying if they couldn’t fit in.
Each capsule was provided with the basic pillow and blanket as well as the futon. It has a small tv suspended and a handy built in alarm clock and radio as well as the public wifi. Downside: no plugs or adaptors. Everything was pretty old and felt like the 1990’s, but no complains here.
As the night was still young, I placed my things in the numbered locker provided and upon opening the locker, I found what to be a set of Japanese pajamas, a towel, and hangers! I then headed out in search for tonight’s dinner.
Dinner at Asakusa
Asakusa being a tourist area had no lack of restaurants and izakayas (Japanese bars). After walking around for several minutes, I settled for a homely ramen bar as it was cold and wet out.
Like most ramen shops in Japan, I had to place my order at a vending machine by choosing the ramen I want, pay, and then get an order ticket which should be handed to the waiter or chef. The kind waiter handed me a English translated menu and tried to help me select the ramen I wanted with the vending machine! In the end, I had a ramen in thick fish soup topped with pork slices and spring onions. It was the heaviest, greasiest and saltiest ramen I ever had and it was freaking fantastic.
I started wandering around the streets and ended up at Kaminarimon Gate which leads to the famed Sensoji Temple which I will be exploring the next morning.
Cold and wet, I bought a warm and fluffy Taiyaki! It was a sweet fish-shaped pancaked filled with red bean paste. Major yums! I brought it back to my capsule to nibble on. Take note that most capsule hotels do not let guests eat in their capsules, but I managed to eat mine in complete silence and did not leave any crumbs. In any case, just be mindful of the rules.
About to retire for the night, I changed into the pajamas provided and explored more of the hotel. Turns out, the bathrooms had hairdryers, washing machines and dryers too if you needed a quick wash of clothes. There was also an onsen (its communal) on the top floor which I did not use as it was too cold for a bath!
Time to sleep! You can pull down the shutters at your capsule for complete privacy or watch some old-fashioned tv. I was woken by the alarm set at 8am for the next day, checked out and headed out to explore the Asakusa riverside. The cleaning ladies come in to clean the capsules at 10am sharp so you will be inevitably asked to leave for them to clean. I have known of tourists who were not happy being asked to leave their capsules for housekeeping, but do take note that a capsule hotel is a fuss-free, bare bones accommodation! so, you get what you paid for.
On a happier note, on to the gorgeous riverside
I have no idea what a giant golden gourd was doing in a distance. Whereas the notable tower at the back would be the new Tokyo Skytree which is currently the tallest tower in the world! From the riverside, you have the alternative to head else where through the subway station
Or explore Asakusa on foot, which I would be doing. I will be stopping here for now but there will be a separate post on Sensoji Temple and the places I went to in Asakusa!