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Sleeping in a Capsule Hotel in Japan | Ummi Goes Where?

A Guide to Sleeping in a Capsule Hotel in Japan for First Timers

Five-star hotels bore me.

That’s mostly my empty wallet speaking. But really, conventional hotels are pretty boring, aren’t they? In fact, some of them are deliberately made to look identical so that people get the comfort of familiarity in an unfamiliar land.

I enjoy something a little different — like the Soviet prison I stayed at in Latvia, the barn in Switzerland, or the treehouse with geckos in Indonesia.

What is a Capsule Hotel?

Also known as a pod hotel, a capsule hotel is a type of accommodation that features small compartments called capsules. These capsules are stacked together, and each of them is just big enough to fit a bed for a single person.

If that sounds too much like a coffin, well, it kinda feels like one too.

What It's Like to Stay in A Capsule Hotel in Japan - Ummi Goes Where?
Credit: Tokyo Cheapo

At present, you can find capsule hotels in various countries around the world, including Belgium, China, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Poland.

But this concept originally started in 1979 in Osaka, Japan. Its original purpose was to accommodate traveling salarymen who missed the last train home, which explains why most capsule hotels were built near train stations.

Nowadays, capsule hotels also cater to tourists. Their main clientele are those who do not require or cannot afford larger, more expensive hotel rooms, and those who go there just for the experience.

How Much is It to Stay in a Japanese Capsule Hotel?

The average rate per night at a capsule hotel ranges from JPY2,500 (USD24) to JPY6,000 (USD57) — not very cheap by my Southeast Asian standard, but that’s about as cheap as you can get in Japan.

Still, keep a lookout for other deals. Sometimes, you may be able to find hotel rooms or dormitories that offer better rates, especially if you’re traveling in bigger numbers and can split the cost of a hotel room or Airbnb.

Some capsule hotels offer hourly options for those who just need a short rest. Do check with the reception if they have this option.


What to Expect at a Capsule Hotel in Japan

On my visit to Tokyo in Summer 2014, I stayed at Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel, near the Shinjuku metro station. As I was traveling on a strict budget and relied entirely on public transports, it made sense to stay close to the station. The current rate starts from JPY3,000 per person per night.

Address: Touyo Building 3/F, 1-2-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Phone: +81 3-3232-1110
Check-in: 4:00 pm | Check-out: 10:00 am

Although I didn’t make any prior booking (this was before I was introduced to booking apps), the check-in process went without a problem.

Lockers at a capsule hotel in Japan | Ummi Goes Where?
Lockers at a capsule hotel in Japan.

I was given a key to a small locker, where I was to put my shoes. There were also bigger lockers for luggage, but I didn’t need any of those. I always travel with a tiny backpack that I would rather take with me to bed.

What really impressed me about this hotel was the communal bathroom. As with anything else in Japan, it went beyond my expectation. Clean, modern, and equipped with all the amenities you could think of — from hair-dryers to free lotions and dental kits — it was hands down the fanciest shared bathroom I had ever experienced.

Bathroom at Shinjuku Capsule Hotel | Ummi Goes Where?
The communal bathroom at Shinjuku Capsule Hotel.

Among the other facilities provided were sauna rooms, a restaurant, coin-operated washing machines, and a business lounge with PCs and printers.

Business lounge at Shinjuku Capsule Hotel | Ummi Goes Where?
The business lounge.

I arrived pretty late. After freshening up, it was already time for bed. There were not many other guests that night. Normally, this would have pleased me immensely, but this time it gave the room a certain eeriness.

If the sleeping compartment by itself reminds you of a coffin, seeing them stacked together like that reminds you of something else — a morgue. Or an incinerator. Staying in a capsule hotel is certainly not a good idea when you’ve been watching too many horror movies.

Capsule Hotel Shinjuku Japan | Ummi Goes Where?
The female dorm.

Fortunately, the inside of the capsule didn’t feel quite as morbid. I was able to sit fully upright, and there was still plenty of space for my backpack and my 5’5″ self.

Staying at Shinjuku Capsule Hotel, Japan | Ummi Goes Where?
My capsule.

You wouldn’t believe it, but there was a TV and a radio mounted on the wall. Each sleeping compartment also came with a light, an alarm clock, a mirror, power outlets, and an emergency button. I’m not sure if that button made me feel more relieved or worried.

Sleeping in a capsule hotel in Japan | Ummi Goes Where?
It’s actually quite comfy.

The sleeping compartment usually has no locks — only a shutter or curtain to give you some privacy, much like regular dormitories. However, it does not do much with regard to noise. If you’re unfortunate enough to room with rowdy guests or loud snorers, you’re still going to need those earplugs.

My compartment felt a little stuffy when I shut the curtain completely, so I left it halfway open throughout the night to allow some air in. I’m happy to report that nothing happened that required me to press that emergency button.

Final Thoughts on Staying at a Capsule Hotel in Japan

I personally don’t have any complaints about capsule hotels other than the fact that they look creepy. Once I got inside the capsule though, I really appreciated the privacy and having my own personal space.

It was clean, comfortable, and had everything that I needed. I liked the thoughtful touches like the mirror in the capsule and the amenities in the bathrooms.

If money is an issue, then the capsule hotel’s cheap rate is definitely its biggest advantage. But even if you can afford better hotels, I still think you should give capsule hotels a try — just for the experience*.

*The capsule hotel is probably not for you if you’re:

  • claustrophobic
  • taller and/or bigger than the average Asian
  • looking to meet and socialize with other travelers as you would in backpacker’s hostels

Additional Tips for Staying in a Capsule Hotel

1. Some capsule hotels in Japan may only cater to men, although more and more are now allowing female guests (but rooms are still gender-segregated). Do check before booking.

2. Baths tend to be communal. I didn’t experience this personally but if you have tattoos, you might not be allowed in the communal baths or saunas, as the Japanese people often associate tattoos with gangs and organized crimes.

3. Capsule hotels are meant for short-term stays. You won’t be able to book for a whole week’s or a whole month’s stay. You can, however, check out and then check in again every day.

4. Check-out time is usually at 10:00 a.m., but some hotels allow you to extend for a few hundred yens per hour.

5.The capsules aren’t entirely soundproof even if you shut the curtains. Bring earplugs.

6. In general, Japan is a very safe country. You can leave your valuables in your capsule and expect to still find them there when you get back. Stealing is probably not in the Japanese gene, but you may not be able to say the same thing about the other travelers you’re rooming with. Better safe than sorry — use the lockers.

Posted in Japan


  1. Lya

    Sesekali bercuti kalau pilih capsul cam gini pon ok jugak kan. Tapi rasa rasa kalau ada anak mungkin tak sesuai sangat. Yang bujang bkh la try atau suami isteri yang tak bawak anak..

  2. Hasif Hamsyari

    Had experienced capsule hotel before but in KL, not yet in Japan though I do include it on my bucket list as one of the things to try. Agree on your point that the room is not for claustrophobic. But as for me I found it comfortable enough for a budget stay. Hihi.

    • ummi

      Yup, price is everything for me too, haha. And I actually found it more comfortable than many other hostels I’ve come across. I know the Japanese wouldn’t skimp on comfort and cleanliness.

  3. Fas

    Considerin the rate in Japan then its quite affordable as if ita in KL the rate is rather high might as well check in a 3 star hotel. But this capsule hotel is suitable for backpackers n lone rangers.

    • ummi

      Yah, in KL it would be considered quite expensive, I guess. If people go at all, it’s for the experience and not so much about the price.

  4. Kitkat Nelfei

    This is interesting and thanks for sharing this.. I have always been looking for a chance to experience staying at capsule hotel since forever! Will check out for the one nearest to me soon, the one at Chinatown Malaysia 🤭

    • ummi

      Haha no! The Japanese are quite conservative when it comes to that. Apparently they don’t even allow people with tattoos to enter the bath.

  5. mazharalti

    Great sharing… the capsule hotel is so cool… something different in the accommodation choice that we could choose from… simply interesting… this means that you are in Japan right now?… take care of your health ya…

  6. Zaza

    For Backpackers this is definitely like a 5star hotel but easy on the money. But unfortunately for me i cant do this kind of accommodation. Claustrophobic. Hoho

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  8. Elizabeth

    I’m intrigued by capsule hotels, but I don’t think they are for me. It was interesting to read about your stay though! The mention of no locks really turns me off. But I guess it would be a good experience and way to save money.

    • ummi

      Thank you for reading, Elizabeth! Despite the lack of locks, I actually felt quite safe in the capsule. In any case, there’s emergency button right by your head in case anything happens. But yes, it was a good experience and way to save money.

  9. Travelling Tam

    So interesting! I think it is a rite of passzge when visiting Japan as a backpacker to stay in a capsule hotel haha! I think I would try it for the novelty and Luckily I’m not a very claustrophobic person!

    • ummi

      Yes, Tam, I think so too — the capsule hotel is definitely a rite of passage for anyone visiting Japan. I hope you’ll get to try it in the future! 🙂

  10. Josy A

    I guess it’s a pretty cool concept – I am not a massive fan of capsule hotels…I normally prefer to share a room with a friend in a business hotel (as they can be a similar price…) but I totally agree about the bathrooms! They may be communal baths, but they are fabulous aren’t they!?

  11. Bella

    Oh no! This looks terrifying! But then again, I am a bit claustrophobic. I think I’ll stick with the 5* hotel thank you! Great post though, thanks for sharing!

    • ummi

      It was a great experience indeed, Julia. And there weren’t too many guests during my stay, so I got to stay in the bathroom for as long as I wanted. 😀

  12. Emily

    As someone who loves overnight trains, I think I would enjoy the experience of sleeping in a capsule hotel! Japan seems like a perfect place to do it too, everything looks so clean and efficient. Great value for money too!

    • ummi

      It is, Emily! The Japanese are really known for their cleanliness and order. I hope you’ll get to try the capsule hotel in Japan someday, I’m sure you’ll love it 🙂

  13. Sydney

    Omg I was supposed to go to Japan and stay in one of these in March!! Hope I can get there sometime soon. Definitely saving this for later!

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  15. DominionCinemas

    This article perfectly captures the unique and intriguing experience of staying at a Japanese capsule hotel. The vivid descriptions and beautiful photos instantly transported me to the heart of Japan, making me feel as if I was actually there. As someone who loves to immerse myself in different cultures and try new things, I found this article to be incredibly inspiring. Thank you for taking me on this virtual journey, and please keep sharing your amazing adventures with us!
    Best regards,
    Gary Ford

    • ummi

      Thanks so much for your comment, Gary. I don’t always have the motivation to blog, but it’s comments like yours that keep me going. Thank you again, and keep traveling.
      Best Regards,


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