top of page

Unique Hotels / ユニークなホテル

When it comes to western style hotels in Japan, they run the gamut from budget to luxury hotels. Like most things, the price of the hotel generally reflects the quality, and it’s not difficult to find a hotel that suits your preferences with the help of Internet. In this article, I’d like to introduce two types of hotels that are unique to the westerners.

First, there is one called a “capsule hotel”. As the name indicates, it’s a capsule shaped sleeping space stacked two high in a row (see picture below). Initially created for businessmen in the late ’70s during the midst of the big economic growth era so overburdened workers could access a quick and easy sleepover. To cater to businessmen, the hotels are in business districts. Accommodations in a capsule include a reading light, alarm clock, and small TV, but there is no door since a capsule is legally considered as a piece of furniture, not a room. So, if privacy is important to you, a capsule hotel is not for you. The shower and toilet are shared, and a separate locker is available to store your luggage. In Tokyo you can stay in a capsule for about $20 a night (with current exchange rate of $1=145 yen), so it’s very budget friendly. In recent years, the hotel has attracted overseas tourists as a novelty, and female only capsule hotels also are available.

Japanese hotel, novelty, unique, budget hotel
Capsule Hotel

The second hotel is called “love-hotel” often referred to as “la-bu-ho” by the locals. In the suburbs, they are also referred to as motels (drive-in love-hotels). The definition of love hotel and motel in Japan is the place to have sex. You must pay upfront and can pay hourly or overnight stay. As I wrote in my “hugs and kisses” article, the display of love is extremely private in Japan, so check-in is discreet. You don’t have to disclose your identity. Many love-hotels have automated check-in machines. If a check-in clerk is present, he or she is behind the curtain. Accommodations include in-room vending machines for birth control options and mood making interior depending on the theme of the hotel (retro, sci-fi, fantasy, fetish, etc.). As a tourist, the concept of staying in a love-hotel might sound very strange, but there is a bed in the room, so some overseas tourists seem to have discovered this option and used it as a regular hotel. You may not be able to find love-hotels in a travel guide, and I’m not sure more than one night stay is possible. Rooms could be kooky depending on the theme and generally there are no windows, but for just one night, you might have a memorable experience in a love-hotel. An overnight stay costs about $50. On the contrary to the discreet check-in, hotels are provocatively neon lit so not so difficult to find and generally located near the bar district.

Japanese travel, hotel, unique hotel, sex


A: あー、今日もまた残業(ざんぎょう)だよ。毎日残業(まいにちざんぎょう)でウンザリだよ。

B: 僕(ぼく)はそろそろ終(お)わりますよ。

A: そうか。今何時(いまなんじ)?

B: もう9時(じ)ですよ。 そろそろ帰(かえ)りましょうよ。

A: 今(いま)からうちに帰(かえ)る11時だよ。サウナでも行(い)って、疲(つか)れを取(と)ろうかな

B: そういえば、最近(さいきん)新橋(しんばし)にできた新(あたら)しいサウナにはカプセルホテルも付(つ)いているらしいですよ。

A: そうか。じゃ、サウナの後でビールでも飲んで、カプセルに泊まって明日に備えることにしよう。君も一緒に来るかい?

B: いや、僕はカプセルホテルじゃ寝られないんで、うちに帰ります。じゃ、また明日。お疲れ様でした

よく使われる表現/Common Expressions





残業 n. overtime

ウンザリ  adv. Be sick of ~. Normally paired with する 〜に(で)うんざりする。It’s often written in Katakana; however, it’s not an imported word. When Katakana is used for unimported words (Japanese words), it could add an emphasis on the word. Here, he is “truly” sick of working overtime.

そろそろ adv. In a while, soon

と p. if. Consequences are more certain than other conditional particles ば、たら. Here, the consequence is the arrival time to the home. The late arrival time would be certain. Discuss the other usages of と

サウナ n. sauna. Sauna is quite popular in Japan. It is normally a large facility where you can have beer and other drinks after taking sauna. Many saunas even feature capsule hotels service as well.

でも p. this particle is used to list examples. Here, “the sauna” is an example.  Find another usage ofでも in this dialogue.

疲れを取ろう expression – 疲れを取る、literally means “take the fatigue (out of your body)” =release the fatigue. 取ろうis a volitional form of 取る

かな p. か+な= I wonder. Here, “I wonder if I should release my fatigue by going to the place like sauna.”

そういえば by the way (but you use this expression only when you are referring to the topic in conversation.)

新橋 n. one of business districts near Tokyo station.

備える vt. to prepare

んで colloquial expression of ので、since. Here, “Since I cannot sleep in a capsule…”

お疲れ様でした。A common expression to show appreciation for someone’s good (hard) work. In the past tense, you use it when someone’s work is done.


bottom of page