Monday, February 21, 2011

Japan: Capsule Hotel and Dotonbori

Q:  What is a capsule hotel? 
A:  A capsule hotel is popular among businessmen in Japan.  Often times they work late and miss the last train home; therefore, needing a quick, quiet, inexpensive hotel with all the necessities.  Enter capsule hotel.  You literally sleep in a "capsule."  The one I stayed in was two levels high (luckily I was on the bottom), but I think some go three high.  It was hard finding a capsule hotel to stay in because most are just for men.  However, in Osaka I found one with a women's dormitory as well.
Everyone is given a key to enter their area:  men or women's.  In your area there is a locker room, public bath spa, laundry facilities, and the dormitory rooms of capsules.

They give you pajamas and you can even buy business-type clothing for men upstairs.  Everything you need...

Here are some pictures of inside the capsule. 
 Some open to the side, but most open on the ends.
 The capsule has everything you need, including television (only Japanese channels).  The coin machine you see under the t.v. is (I think) for porn...I'm not sure as I didn't investigate!
 alarm clock, radio, light and sound controls....
 mirror...
 I took a silly pic with me inside so you could get a better idea of the size.  I thought it was very comfortable.  You could sit up in bed, the mattress was comfortable, long enough, etc...
 The women's side had a really nice sink area to get ready.  It included makeup remover, face cleanser, etc...
 Disinfected brushes...
 There was also a public area for both men and women.  That included:  a t.v. area with wi-fi and slot machines/pachinko...
 That brings me to Pachinko.  I found Pachinko parlors all over Japan.  I guess they are a slot machine/pinball machine.  In Japan, legally you can't gamble for money.  So people exchange their prize balls for prizes and then go outside the establishment to a window where you can exchange the prize for money (illegally).  This is a pic of one of the parlors.  They are huge and have frosted windows so you can't exactly see what's inside.  When the door opens, I'd sneak a peak and get a huge waff of smoke.  If I hadn't been traveling alone, maybe I would have gotten the courage to try it.
 I forced myself out of my luxurious capsule to check out the nightlife in Osaka.  I left Kyoto's castles and temples and stepped into Osaka's Harry Wintston, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton Heaven or Hell...depending upon how you look at it.  I loved people-watching as young women would drive by in their cute bicycles (with baskets) in high heels, short skirts, and incredible up-dos.  I'd never seen women so dressed up before...not even in NYC.  Anything you'd imagined - from movies or what-not- is truly what you'll find in Osaka.  I think of Osaka as being little Tokyo. 

Bike Parking.
 Dotonbori is a famous area in Osaka.  It was a really cool area with fun restaurants, bright lights, enormous arcades, and interesting people.  It was the only time in Japan I really wished I wasn't alone.  It's the sort of place to visit with your friends, get a drink, something to eat, and relax and enjoy the nightlife.  It made me happy I chose to visit more historical sites instead of Tokyo.  I would love to visit Tokyo someday, just not alone.
This is the most famous sign in Dotonbori - the Glico's Man - because this same sign has been hanging here since 1919...an icon of the city.



 I really wanted to check out the arcades, but I kinda chickened out!  They would huge and crowded and BRIGHT!
 More bikes.
Osaka is a pretty cool city.  Not much for historical sightseeing but a cool city to visit to see modern Japanese culture.

4 comments:

  1. crazy interesting on the capsule hotels...and I love Pachinko, my grandparent's had a pachinko machine in their basement. we spent so many hours as kids playing with it...

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  2. Hi, may i know what is the name of this capsule hotel? I am visiting Osaka in June and would really love to try it as most capsule hotels i search online are for men. Thanks. E-mail: leeying90@gmail.com

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