Ok, the capsule story.13 januari 2005
A capsule hotel is a Japanese solution to a lot of people on a small area. Japan is not very big country geographically, the 374,744 sq km land contain 127,333,002 people. Tokyo holds 28 million and even though Tokyo is huge, space has to be rationed. This solution availiable to business men who stay briefly somewhere is this kind of hotel where you find yourself being put in a small capsule for overnight storage. You pay a small fee and you are given just what you need, a play to have a bath and sleep.
I had previously seen pictures of endless rows of these things that look like laudry machines and gave it a quick haha, those Japanese… Anyways, I decided to try it and I believe I can now say I’ve been to space. More efficient procedures for the basic need of somewhere to stay for a short period of time, will never be found. The chosen capsule hotel was Capsule Land Shibuya which was central and reasonably priced.
Ok, this is what happened: I entered the lobby, the staff bowed, I bowed back. I took my shoes of, I paid my fee and was given a small key that opened a small box where I put my shoes. I gave the key back and was in return given a bigger key with a wriststrap. I was told where the bath and locker was and that I was staying in capsule number 516. I went to the locker room and saw a lot of men in the same kimonos. The locker was tiny and inside there was one of those kimonos. I pressed my stuff into that locker and changed into that kimono. I went into the washing room where the men were doing stuff like shaving and styling their clean haircuts. I had no idea what to do so I looked at what the other guys were doing. I took of the kimono, grabbed a tiny towel and brought it into a room. I opened the door and a huge cloud of steam came out. After a while I could see what was going on in there, I finally realized how you’re supposed to take a bath in Japan. I was confused during my last stay but now I get it. Men were sitting naked on small plastic stools, throwing water everywhere. Next to this human fountain was a big bathtub filled with hot, hot water and hot boys. (Note: Eventhough only men go to these places there is no homosexual activity (that I noticed…). Not even a gay undertone..) I stool became availiable and I sat down on it and looked at the products displayed on the shelf in front of me. Body shampoo, rinse shampoo, foam soap and liquid soap. Where do I apply these things I wondered, I tried to look at the other guys to see what they were doing without seeming to give some kind of invitation. I think I rubbed the right stuff on the wrong place or vice versa but gee I got clean! After the cleaning process you’re supposed to sit down in that tub for like a minute or so. I put my leg in and it burnt. I put the rest of myself in there and sat there for a while feeling like a crayfish in disneyland (now I know why they turn red when boiled). It was so weird but it made a lot of sense. Maybe because I’m used to standing up but I think this style of sitting down together with the squat should be exported.
I got out of the steamer with that tiny towel and took a bigger one. Now, I felt like a sundried tomato. I put on the kimono again and went up to the 5th floor where capsule number 516 would be. After a while I found it and wow! I climbed up a small ladder and crawled in. To my surprice it felt a lot bigger inside and there was a TV, radio and alarmclock. You could dim the light and there was a neat curtain. I had imagined something like those drawers (?) where corpses are put in a morgue but it was nothing like that. So I made myself comfortable in my kimono, dimmed the light, put the ear phones in my ears and turned on the TV to find Japanese porn with the action smudged out. I found the other channels a lot more interesting with the long time favourite ”Hexagon” game-show and news. My prayers about seeing Swedish television was answered as they had a story on Sweden and how they were dealing with the tsunami disaster. It wasn’t the merriest subject but listening to Swedish language and seing pictures of the king and Sergels Torg in a capsule was a great crossover/fusion.
The whole experience was not maybe so weird in afterhand but when you are completely new to this thing and do not know what and how to do, it can be a very strange thing. I recomend it to every person visiting Japan, I do not know about ladies unfortinuately, it said somewhere that some of these capsule hotels allow female guests. Capsule Land Shibuya did not.