Spending the night at Capsule Inn Osaka.

You can find capsule hotels in every major city in Japan, but the very first to have one was Osaka. February 2, 1979 was the opening date of Capsule Inn Osaka, Japan’s, and by extension the world’s, very first capsule hotel.

Of course, with how quickly downtown city landscapes change in Japan, Capsule Inn Osaka probably went out of business and was replaced with something else many years ago, right? Nope! It’s still open and accepting guests, so on our most recent trip to Osaka, we spent the night there.

Capsule Inn Osaka, or New Japan Umeda Capsule Inn Osaka, to use the full name on the sign, is located close to both Osaka and Umeda stations, underneath the covered section of the Higashidori shopping arcade. As to why the place has such a long name, New Japan Umeda is the name of the attached public bath and sauna facility, which guests of the hotel have free access to.

After entering the hotel, you take off your shoes and head to the check-in desk. Up on the fourth floor, there’s a lounge and changing area for guests, with bathrobes to wear and lockers to store your clothes and personal belongings in.

The lounge has a bit of a mountain cabin vibe to it, and there’s also a photo on the wall showing what it looked like back in 1979.

After changing into our robe, we headed to the New Japan Umeda Section of the building, which is a four-floor complex of relaxation options with all sorts of different baths, saunas, and massage rooms.

While there are extra fees for massage services, the rest is included in the price of your capsule hotel stay, and the facilities are fancier than you’d ordinarily expect at a capsule hotel. In addition to an open-air bath section, the low-temperature sauna has a planetarium theme, with starlight-style lighting and relaxing music playing.

▼ The grooming area was clean, well-lit, and spacious.

Once we were done with our sweating and soaking, it was time to go to our capsule.

The atmosphere is a bit surreal. On the one hand, when Capsule Inn Osaka opened, it no doubt looked like something from a science-fiction future. Its official aesthetic was “the business hotel of the year 2100.” What looked futuristic in 1979 now has a decidedly retro feel to it, however, as though you went back in time 45 years and then came back to the future by an alternate timeline.

The capsules aren’t quite as roomy as the ones you’ll find at newer capsule hotels, but we still managed to fit. It’s always cool to see the efficient use of space inside a capsule hotel sleeping compartment, and this one, with a TV, interior lighting, shelf, and mirror, must have been doubly impressive back in the day.

Capsule Inn Osaka even offers some really good breakfasts. Our choices included grilled salmon and mackerel sets, as well as lighter fare such as toast and natto. But since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we went with the curry rice spread, which was delicious and filling. And yes, breakfast was included in the base price of our stay.

Our stay at Capsule Inn Osaka cost us 4,000 yen (US$25), which might seem a little high for a capsule hotel. With prices rapidly rising for any and all accommodations in Japan’s major travel destinations, though, the price isn’t so bad, considering its proximity to Osaka and Ueda Stations, and the high quality of the bath and sauna facilities. Most of all, though, it’s a rare opportunity to stay in such a historically significant site for Japan travel, and we’re glad we did.

Hotel information
Capsule Inn Osaka / カプセルイン大阪
Address: Osaka-fu, Osaka-shi, Kita-ku, Doyamacho 9-5

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