If you’re stuck in Osaka with no accommodation for the night, or if you’re a cheapo looking for budget-friendly accommodation, Capsule Hotel Asahi Plaza Shinsaibashi, which claims to be Osaka’s largest-scale capsule hotel with its 437 rooms, is the place for you.
Located in the trendy Shinsaibashi area, close to the youth fashion district of Amerika-mura, this hotel can initially be a bit difficult to find, as it isn’t exactly close to identifiable landmarks, and is not on a main street. While some of its promotional materials say that it’s close to Namba, it’s easier to find it from Exit 7 of Shinsaibashi Station of the Midosuji Subway Line. You can walk from Namba to the hotel, but it’s easy to get confused by Namba’s long shopping streets—that’s how I got lost finding Asahiplaza the first time I went there. Despite that drawback, it’s situated in a good location, as it’s close to Namba, which is one of Osaka’s best-known shopping and entertainment districts. Not only does Namba have several long shopping arcades, but it’s also home to Dotonbori, where you can find good Osaka-style soul food and see its iconic giant mechanical crab. The hotel is also near some upscale shopping centers, if you have more expensive tastes.
A night at Asahiplaza is 3,000 yen, which gets you a capsule pod, toiletries, and access to the communal facilities (including the baths and saunas). For that rate, you get to choose whether you want a room with an electric outlet, or with a TV—if you want both, it’s 3,200 yen. (When I visited in January 2014, they even mentioned that their in-room TV had an adult channel, in case anyone’s interested.) There’s also a no-outlet-and-TV plan for 2,600 yen, but for some reason, this option is only available for men. An additional 300 yen gets you dinner with your accommodation. You get 100 yen off all these rates if you reserve online, but you’d have to check the Japanese website, as it’s not indicated in the English version. Other options are a group room for 15,700-16,500 yen, which is good for 2-4 people and includes a TV and sauna; a 5-hour capsule nap plan for 2,100 yen; and a sauna-only plan for 800 yen (for an hour), or 1,200 yen (for 3 hours). These cannot be booked online, so there’s no discount. Check-in starts at 2:00 pm, while check-out is by 10:00 am. You can extend for 500 yen per hour, but the capsule pods are cleaned from 12:00 pm-2:00 pm, so you can’t use them during those times.
Regarding facilities and equipment, Asahiplaza has locker rooms for your luggage, a relaxation room where you can just rest and watch TV, a manga library, payphones and computers, some vending machines and arcade games, coin laundries and a dryer, and a restaurant that serves cheap meals. Open from 7:00 am-9:00 am during the day and 7:00 pm-1:30 am at night (but closed on Sundays and Mondays), the restaurant’s breakfast meals cost 300-450 yen. Dinner meals vary, but they’re also quite inexpensive. While the taste is forgettable, the restaurant is recommended if you’re just looking to fill your stomach up.
You can also rent mahjong tables and tiles, and if you’re looking for some pampering, Asahiplaza has massage services, although they don’t come cheaply. For cheapos, it’d be more economical to just use Asahiplaza’s coin-operated massage chairs.
While Asahiplaza’s rate is a good deal, common concerns about capsule hotels are safety, noise, and pod size. Generally, though, there is little to worry about as far as safety is concerned, especially since theft in Japan is minimal. As with other capsule hotels, Asahiplaza has lockers for you to store your valuables in, anyway. If you’re still really afraid of your locker key being stolen from you while you sleep, or something like that, and you’re a heavy sleeper to boot, perhaps a capsule hotel might not be for you, if only for your peace of mind. As for noise, it depends on the visitors for the night—I was lucky to have gotten a good night’s sleep, but you could have the misfortune of rowdy guests ruining your night. Capsule hotels might not be for light sleepers who are sensitive to even the slightest of noises, such as footsteps, though. And lastly, regarding pod size, it’s not that narrow; Asahiplaza’s pods have enough space for you to crawl in, sit up, and even roll around in bed. Tall people might have a problem, though.
If you don’t have any of the aforementioned concerns, and aren’t traveling with minors, consider Asahiplaza as a cheapo accommodation option the next time you visit Osaka!