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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Konnichi wa from Osaka

NB. Photos and edits in purple added 26/05/07

OSAKA: Hurrah! I am back in Japan!

We flew over with Jetstar- comfy leatherette seats and I didn't even mind paying AU$12 for the portable entertainment unit to watch movies (I watched three). The highlight was our lunch--I elected for the obento box from three choices-- which was probably the tastiest airline meal I've ever had (even if the rice was a little hard).

Marshmallow clouds over Sydney (you can see the green fields below)

Our Jetstar Airbus A330-200 (A332)

Obento box lunch

Lunch: Rice, pickles, karaage chicken, onden vegetables of
turnip, carrot and shiitake mushroom, tofu, konnyaku jelly,
the crunchiest sweetest sugar snap pea and
a green tea beancake for dessert

Watching Notes on a Scandal on the
Jetstar portable entertainment unit

Our light dinner was less exciting. And much less filling too. We were scheduled to land at 8.20pm and were already making plans for a second dinner.

Dinner: Frittata with ham, drink (ginger ale)
and a frozen Weis raspberry bar with cream

Landing lights at Kansai

The landing lights at Kansai airport are amazing: a twinkling wonderland of green, blue, orange and yellow.

Kansai airport

First drinks vending machine at the airport

Japan isn't quite the total sensory shock I had the first time I arrived but plenty of things still strike you as being so different from home. The city is a concrete jungle -- it assaults you with neverending square blocks of dark brown, slate and grey. In the arcades however, there's brightly coloured neon signage in your face and the pachinko parlours are hideously noisy, clattering your senses with the blare of music, wailings and constant pinging. There are plenty of crowds everywhere you look, and bicycles weave past you on the roads and on the footpath, but noone crashes and everyone crowds onto the trains purposefully but politely too.

Capsule Inn Namba

Our first night in Japan was spent at the Capsule Inn Namba hotel. We arrived at the station with little idea of where to go and after crossing a few roads I ended up approaching a group of businessmen and businesswomen using the remnants of my halting high school Japanese. They looked at each other and laughed nervously when I offered our hotel reservation, then one guy noticed the phone number and immediately took out his mobile. Within seconds he was chatting to the reception desk, looking at us and laughing whislt he gave our bearings. Then he nodded, waved in our direction and bellowed "Follow me!". And so we did.

A gaggle of giggling Japanese workers trailed four tired but very relieved Australians. We walked down one street, turned down an alley and then left down another alley until ta da! Our capsule hotel. The men bowed and laughed at us again. "Good luck!" shouted one of the females as they waved us off.

We dumped our bags but first tackled the more pressing issue: dinner.

Sukiya Namba

We headed around the corner to the popular gyudon beef on rice chain Sukiya.

Welcome to Sukiya.
Sukiya is delicious!

It took us a while to realise we were supposed to press the button on the wooden circle to alert staff we were ready to order.

Sukiya menu

Small gyudon beef on rice 270 yen

A simple meal of sweet simmered beef strips and onion on rice. We piled our bowls with generous mounds of pickled ginger and slurped down glasses of complimentary iced tea.

Back at the capsule hotel, we were all giggles as we explored the facilities. I've always wanted to stay in a capsule hotel and this was definitely an adventure. Downstairs you swap shoes for slippers in lockers, then take the lift upstairs to the women-only level (marked in big red letters on the elevator doors).

Swapping shoes for slippers in personal lockers

Our capsule room

Our room had twenty four capsules, stacked two capsules high. The doors you can see inside held single beds, we presume, for those who are happy to pay for a single room. A bamboo curtain rolls down for privacy. Inside each capsule is a personal television, alarm clock, radio, mirror, pillow and quilt. A yukata bathrobe, towel and toothbrush is provided in your personal locker. After a shower in the mini enclave, we slept fairly well although I bumped into the sides of the plastic walls a couple of times. The beds are standard length, my 5'8" frame fitted perfectly.

Inside the capsule

Alarm clock, radio, light switches and dimmers
The black TV remote is resting on top

Capsule rolling shutters for privacy

Complimentary use of sterilised combs in the bathroom

Shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, towel, face washer and yukata bathrobes are also provided.

Watching television in my capsule

Our capsule hotel was a bargain at only 2,500 yen including breakfast. Bargain indeed!

Capsule Inn Namba
1-7-16, Nambanaka, Naninwa-ku
Osaka 556-001 Japan
Tel: +81 (06) 6633 2666
Fax: +81 (06) 6633 5568

We found this to be the only capsule inn hotel in Osaka to accept female guests.

Read the next Japan entry
19 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/08/2007 11:36:00 pm


  • At 5/10/2007 12:59 am, Blogger sarynkay said…

    Ooh! Have a great time there. I know how it feels to never want to return. I was in osaka barely 2 months ago! The food, the sights...
    yummy! I need to start posting my food pics too.

  • At 5/10/2007 4:39 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Can't wait to see photos! We stayed at the capsule hotel in Shinsaibashi last November, and it sounds very similar. Very fun experience! Have a great time (I don't know if I have ever posted a comment before, so if I haven't, hello!)

  • At 5/10/2007 8:21 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow, you're in Japan? just want to ask you, what IS capsule hotel?

  • At 5/10/2007 8:37 am, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    Keep up the blogging Helen, reminds me of my trip that now seems like so long ago. Can't wait to hear about things in person at brekkie.

  • At 5/10/2007 12:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    lol you better come back! haha hope you have a fantastic time in the land of fabulous ramen!

  • At 5/10/2007 4:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Terrific timing. The family and I plan another excursion to Japan in October.

    I'm looking forward to you saving me a lot of research. :)

    Japan isn't nearly as expensive as people make it out to be.

    BTW who did you fly with ? I'm tempted to try Jetstar but the bad press they've got recently is off putting.

    Have a good holiday and keep those updates rolling.

  • At 5/11/2007 1:03 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Saryn - That's the problem with traveling. You never want to go home!

    Hi Mariko - The capsule hotel was fun, for one night anyway! And yes I took plenty of photos.

    Hi Mina - Google "capsule hotel japan" and you should get an idea.

    Hi Pickles - I can't wait for brekkie. The pics looked so good!

    Hi ChocolateSuze - Yeah I think I will. I will start to miss my steak and vegemite I'm sure!

    Hi Andrew - Japan is very affordable if you eat like a local. And it's so clean and safe too.

    We actually flew with Jetstar. No real complaints. We loved our lunch (we chose the obento box) but the light dinner was very light - a tub of quiche-like omelette and an ice cream bar. And yes, I did indeed take photos!

  • At 5/28/2007 7:21 am, Blogger Nora B. said…

    Helen, I can't do the capsule thing because it made me feel claustrophobic ... of course it doesn't help that the capsule hotel was designed for the average sized Japanese...

  • At 5/30/2007 5:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So how was jetstar, was it confortable enough to fly 8 hours? was it the size of a normal domestic jetstar plane?

    CAPSULE hotels, i never had the chance when i went to japan twice to try, did u wake up hitting your head on the roof? hahaha

  • At 5/30/2007 8:13 pm, Blogger Benita said…

    I've never heard of capsule hotels, but that looks so bizarre that one day I'll have to try it!! Fantastic.

  • At 5/31/2007 1:14 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Nora B - I don't suffer from claustrophobia but I didn't think they were particularly squashy. It reminded me much of a tent. With air-con and a TV :) I'm not average Japanese-sized either and I fit fine :)

    Hi Rojoe - Jetstar was fine. It's an Airbus so it has a 2,4,2 seat configuration. And no, I didn't hit my headon the roof of my capsule!

    Hi bv - They are one of those only-in-Japan things. I've always wanted to try it. It was well worth the fun :)

  • At 6/01/2007 4:50 pm, Blogger Verão said…

    Capsule hotels!! i always dreamed of sleeping ion one of those! The Japanese think of the best stuff indeed!! I love your blog. I am bookmarking you!

  • At 6/02/2007 7:33 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Verao - Capsule hotels are great. And let's face it, so practical! Glad you're enjoying the blog too :)

  • At 6/10/2007 1:28 pm, Blogger Hungry Hamster said…

    I love reading your blogs! Loved all your photos too!! Keep it up! I really want to go to Japan now!

  • At 6/13/2007 10:43 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hungry Hamster - There's plenty more pics to come! Japan is great. Go! Go!

  • At 6/16/2007 10:02 am, Blogger Su-Yin -Décorateur said…

    oh wow! haha...i remember you mentioning Japan as well @ our last meet! I bought the cheap tickets 3-4 weeks ago during their 3 day sale! i jsut got home yesterday :P wanted to check out what you were up to ..looks like you've done a lot more picture taking! Real good photos helen...you are d' Master! *laughs*
    I was there for 5 days...we spent most of our time running the local streets discovering new things which intrigued us; how many days were u there for?

  • At 6/17/2007 5:49 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Su-Yin - We were there for two weeks. Time certainly flew though! :)

  • At 2/01/2009 9:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen :)

    Firstly, since this is my first comment on your blog and really the first time I've given it more than just a cursory glance, I thought I'd mentioned how much I'm enjoying the blog thus far. I now have an understanding why I keep hearing about this blog from my foodie friends.

    Ok, enough of the salutations. On to what I actually wanted to comment about.

    Did you ever find out why the business folk that were helping you find a capsule hotel were laughing? If not, I'll let you in on the in-joke.

    I had the same urge to stay at a capsule hotel while I was in Japan. I'd found out from some Japanese friends over there that the only reason why you would stay at one of these establishments was:

    a. You've missed the last train home.
    b. You've stayed out too late (and perhaps drank too much sake) and need a place to sleep and freshen up before you go into work the next day.
    c. Some combination of a. and b.

    They found it absolutely hilarious that someone, out of their own free will, would elect to stay at one of these places, even from a life-experience point of view. It's a ludicrous idea, in the same way that using pink poodles as guard dogs in a high security facility likewise is.

    My friends in Japan have since added another option to the list:

    d. Tourist.

  • At 2/01/2009 11:11 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Simon - Thanks for your comment, and lol, I'm intrigued (but flattered) by the endorsement from your foodie friends.

    I wasn't sure why they were laughing at us. Your explanation does make sense, although our dorm did have a few other women in and they all looked very respectable!

    I'm glad we did stay in the capsule hotel. It was such a fun experience and worth it just for all the dinner party anecdotes! Thanks again for leaving a comment. Hope you keep enjoying the blog, and leaving comments too :)


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