Nick’s Nippon Notebook: Capsule Hotels

Posted by Guest Author on Dec 9, 2007 in Fandom |

Capsule Hotels

Capsule Hotels are often mentioned in overseas media showcasing high-tech Japan. I guess I grew to have the impression after seeing travelogues that they were commonplace and perhaps they were a natural outcome of a society used to living in small spaces. Perhaps they were an answer to travelers on a very low budget. In actuality, while there are a number of them operating, they aren’t exactly commonplace, like for instance Love Hotels as business model. Though they themselves are on the decline.

Apparently the primary use of Capsule Hotels for quite a while has been a safe place to deposit an un-sober workmate after a bit too much evening socializing. After seeing an occasional passed out salary-men sprawled on the sidewalk I can definitely see how they solve a dilemma.

In Japan public transportation makes it’s last run on each line at midnight or thereabouts and stops for maintenance until 5AM. While taxis are available all night they are incredibly expensive can easily run up a hotel sized bill for someone a reasonable commuter distance away. So there is a danger of no return when staying out.

I’ve been getting the impression that Manga and Internet Cafes now seem to be covering some of the capsule hotel’s potential functions. Unlike overseas versions, many multimedia cafes offer showers and something to lie down on for an hourly fee.

One of the visual icons for capsule hotels is the Nakagin Capsule Tower, located somewhat East of the main part of Ginza. The blog mentions that the Nakagin Capsule Tower is slated to be demolished. It was designed by the acclaimed recently deceased architect Kisho Kurokawa between 1970 and 1972.

Seeing the interior pictures it’s interesting that the room is an actual space age small room. It’s unlike the stacked horizontal hibernation chambers I’ve seen on TV. I once stayed at a well known Tokyo hotel with a cruise ship paradigm that didn’t seem any larger.

Capsule Hotels

Photo by Chipple.

Attempts at exporting the Capsule idea to other countries have been made though none seem to have moved beyond the novelty stage in my opinion. Here is one that clearly wants to associate itself with iPod enthusiasts:

Capsule Hotels

Nick Kent is a New York based artist who works with electronic media and is an occasional pop culture pundit.

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