Tokyo accommodation doesn’t get much cheaper than this.

If you’re looking for a super cheap place to stay in Tokyo, sometimes it pays to look a little further out from the city centre and keep an eye out for the world “訳あり” (“wakeari” or “flaws“), which indicates there’s something slightly less-than-perfect about the room so that it warrants a discount.

That’s what our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma did recently, because in his experience, wakeari rooms have turned out to be great deals, and this time his search led him to a capsule hotel in Akabane, in Tokyo’s Kita Ward.

Capsule Hotel & Sauna Cosmo Plaza Akabane is a male-only establishment that’s a three-minute walk from the east exit of Akabane Station.

JR Akabane Station is a terminal station on the Keihin-Tohoku Line, Saikyo Line, Shonan-Shinjuku Line, Tohoku Main Line (Utsunomiya Line), and Takasaki Line. It has excellent access to the city centre, taking approximately nine minutes to Ikebukuro Station, 15 minutes to Shinjuku Station, and 17 minutes to Tokyo Station, so although it’s slightly further out, it’s still close by train.

There are a lot of restaurants and drinking holes around the station as well, leading it to be dubbed “Senbero Town” (“senbero” literally means “1,000-yen drunk”, and refers to a cheap night of food and drinks).

Not only can you eat and drink for cheap around here, you can stay here on the cheap too, as a wakeari deal at Cosmo Plaza Akabane costs just 2,980 yen (US$19.88) per night.

Unlike a lot of trendy new establishments, this hotel retains the look of an old-fashioned capsule hotel, fitting in with the retro feel of the shopping street where it’s located.

▼ To check in, you have to take the stairs to the first basement level.

According to the signboard, there are three-hour and 10-hour options for using the hotel’s sauna and rest area, which is handy for anyone who ends up missing the last train home while enjoying themselves in the nearby bar district.

Masanuki was staying overnight so he arrived after 9 p.m. (check-in starts at 3 p.m.) and after leaving his shoes in a locker and checking in at the front desk, he headed straight to the public bath.

The changing room seemed lonely at first, but the sound of music playing through the speakers helped to keep him company. The music was slow and slightly melancholy, like something you’d hear at an old snack bar from the Showa era (1926-1989).

The large public bath also looked like it was from the Showa era, with eight washing areas and two types of saunas: a high-temperature sauna and a far-infrared sauna.

There are plenty of free amenities like small towels, cotton swabs, razors, and toothbrushes so even guests who arrive empty-handed can enjoy a sleep and a soak.

▼ There are vending machines with drinks and alcohol on site too.

After his bath, Masanuki changed into the pyjama set he’d been given at check-in and then he took the elevator up to his capsule room on the 5th floor.

On the way, he stopped off at the “Resting and Napping Room” on the third floor, where he found a row of reclining chairs with TVs in front of them. There were shelves of comics and a section for magazines and newspapers here as well, creating a calm and relaxing space for all guests.

For guests who’ve missed their last train and find themselves staying here on short notice, the two washing machines and two dryers will come in handy, especially if they’re an office worker who needs to wash their clothes so they don’t small like booze and cigarette smoke the next day.

After checking out the facilities, all that was left for Masanuki to do now was sleep, so he headed up to his capsule, number 532, which, according to the guide map, seemed to be right next to the emergency exit.

Making his way down the hall, he could see that the capsule rooms here were the old-school type, perhaps less than fashionable to young trendsetters these days but perfectly fine for his needs.

As he approached his capsule, he saw the guide map had been right — his room was right next to the emergency exit. Masanuki figured this might’ve been part of the reason why this particular capsule was considered “wakeari”, although other conditions that came with the room were that it was a top bunk (top bunks are generally hotter than lower ones, which might be an issue for some people in summer), and it didn’t have a working TV. Only 10 of these discounted rooms are available per day and they can only be secured with a cash payment on the day, or by credit card in advance.

Although the hotel says the super-budget wakeari rooms are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, Masanuki was able to reserve one the day beforehand. While he’d set his expectations low for this wakeari deal, when he set eyes on his room for the night, it looked a lot better than he’d expected.

At first glance, it was a standard capsule room, with simple fittings that were very old-school.

However, all rooms are equipped with a pocket coil mattresses by respected bedding specialists Nihonbashi Nishikawa. This elevated the simple room, offering a snug and comfortable night’s sleep.

The next day, Masanuki noticed that the front desk had all sorts of handy things for sale, like business shirts, underwear and socks, to help out any guests who need to look spick and span for work after a night out at Senbero Town.

▼ There’s a shoe-polishing set for all guests to use for free as well.

For a long soak in a large public bath and a high-quality bed to sleep on in a convenient location, this was a wakeari deal that Masanuki was perfectly happy with.

It just goes to show that “訳あり” is a word worth looking for when searching for places to stay in Japan. Not only can it introduce you to new places and new experiences, it’ll add a sense of excitement and adventure to your journey, especially if you wind up in this room that doesn’t have a hotel key.

Hotel information
Capsule Hotel & Sauna Cosmo Plaza Akabane / カプセルホテル & サウナ コスモプラザ赤羽
Address: Tokyo-to, Kita-ku, Akabane 1-39-3

Photos © SoraNews24
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