How Japan is using capsule hotels to deliver both functionality and rich stay experiences

How Japan is using capsule hotels to deliver both functionality and rich stay experiences

The capsule hotel is typically representative of the image many people have of Japan, combining dense use of space, technical ingenuity and a futuristic vibe. Capsule hotels, also known as pod hotels, are one of the most well-known and unique types of accommodation in Japan. Usually located around major transit hubs in major metropolitan cities, they target people looking for an overnight stay on a budget.

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Each guest is called upon to occupy a pod, essentially a bed-sized pod, providing privacy with a door or curtain. Arranged in rows and stacked, each capsule offers all the necessary amenities that guests are looking for – namely air conditioning, power outlets and high-speed Wi-Fi – without the large price tag often attached to standard or business hotels, with guests should pay between 2,000 and 5,000 yen per night. The first capsule hotel opened in Osaka in 1979, and today it can be found all over Japan and beyond.

All other capsule hotel facilities, such as restrooms, toilets and showers, are shared between guests. In addition, hotels may also house restaurants, vending machines, laundromats, communal lounges, and entertainment rooms. In this article, we will cover the likes of different capsule hotels located in the heart of Japan’s cityscapes.


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Nine Hours Capsule Hotel by Naruse Inokuma Architects is a project designed to create a new standard for capsule hotels. They have strived to design an entirely new form of capsule hotel that reinvents its conventional image, striving for functionality while simultaneously providing a rich stay experience.

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Nine Hours Capsule Hotel / Naruse Inokuma Architects. Image © Nacasa & Partners
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Nine Hours Capsule Hotel / Naruse Inokuma Architects. Image © Nacasa & Partners

The four stages of the capsule hotel stay have been reconfigured into four scenes, including the reception, the prologue hallway, the sanitary lounge and the sleeping areas. By selecting the most appropriate colours, materials and lighting for each of these functions, Naruse Inokuma Architects was able to achieve a functional hotel that is also rich in the joys of hotel stay – from welcome to excitement. , relaxation and the ultimate sleeping experience. .

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Nine Hours Capsule Hotel / Naruse Inokuma Architects. Image © Nacasa & Partners

ºC (Do-C) Ebisu by Schemata Architects is a new venture directly linked to the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel chain. While Nine Hour Capsule Hotels offers a new image of the contemporary capsule hotel by completely redesigning and building new capsules from scratch, the company has taken a different approach in designing ºC, where the project is the result of a renovation of an existing capsule hotel.

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ºC (Do-C) Ebisu / Schemata Architects. Image © Nacasa & Partners
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ºC (Do-C) Ebisu / Schemata Architects. Image © Nacasa & Partners

The project aims to eradicate the image of the old capsule hotel by changing the interior and environment, while keeping the existing capsules as they are. In Japan, people often stereotypically associate capsule hotels with saunas due to the conventional style of capsule hotels in the past. The existing building was not originally equipped with saunas, however, the designers intentionally recreated this overloaded image by adding saunas, while eradicating the conventional impression, to establish a powerful combination of capsules and saunas to represent the identity of ºC.

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ºC (Do-C) Ebisu / Schemata Architects. Image © Nacasa & Partners

Small Hotel by CAPD is a new “no-name operation”, housing no resident staff throughout the property. While striving for rationality in architecture, it was believed that the most challenging part of the building would have a big impact on guest satisfaction and aimed to design an installation that would encourage audiences to return.

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Small Hotel / CAPD. Photo © Daisuke Shima
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Small Hotel / CAPD. Photo © Daisuke Shima

Best suited to fit into the larger side of capsule hotels, the hotel uses wide cabin-sized openings in individual spaces, with a double bed-sized mattress with an abundance of space for two people to occupy one space. The structural material and the base are finished as is, and it does not have a cheap impression by balancing with other materials, color scheme and lighting while reducing costs.

Whether you missed your last train home or are simply looking to extend your stay in the city for a few more days without resorting to a traditional hotel stay, the capsule hotel is the ideal solution for travelers and the premises. essential in Japan. Although the epitome of comfort is not entirely found here, they are certainly comfortable, fast and well-equipped, and form the basis of a great story to tell when you return home.

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