I climbed up the metal ladder to the wood and concrete box and launched myself onto the mattress. The space was a cross between a shipping container and Hagrid's hut. It even had a window. I loved it.
Homeless for a week while my possessions wove their way south to Tokyo, I had decided to prepare for interstellar space travel. Or live burial. OK, so I might be obsessed with capsule hotels but in my defence, they are really weird.
As I had been living in Sapporo, I'd never tried any of the hostels in the city. After unsuccessfully perusing accommodation sites --which kept suggesting hotels with actual beds and chairs and generally stuff I was over by the age of 3-- I stumbled upon the Lonely Planet guide. 'Bizarre' appeared on the menu.
I booked my first night in the 'Untapped Hostel': a capsule-like hotel surprisingly near to where I had lived. The building had once been an eel restaurant and was now decked out in a mix of wood and concrete. The 'capsules' were two high and spacious, taking a normal western single mattress with a small amount of space around the edge and at the end. They were clearly used to foreigners and spoke to me in fluent English when I checked-in.
"Can I see your passport?"
"I have my residence card," I passed over the acceptable alternative and waited while they looked at the address. Yep, that would be right around the corner. The hostel attendant looked up and our eyes met.
"You're a professor at Hokudai?"
OK, so maybe she saw nothing unusual in someone staying at the hostel when they apparently lived right up the road. I really started to feel these were my kind of people.
Unlike the more traditional capsule hotels I'd stayed in, this one had a dormitory mixed for both men and women. There were also two private rooms available, but since these would involve beds and chairs and all that mundane-ness, I didn't go there.
Upstairs was a 'woman-only' shower, but the one downstairs was for everyone. Since it was a separate room, there were no privacy issues. On the same floor as the general-use shower, was a small kitchen and seating area and on the ground floor was a bar and restaurant. It felt like an international dorm.
The small window in my wood cutter's cabin / shipping container did make changing slightly more ... voyeuristic ... but I couldn't be bothered to change floors to go use one of the bathrooms. The hostel was small, so taking up one of the two available showers to put on PJs seemed a little over the top. There was no yukata loan for sleepware in this hostel and I paid ¥200 (~ £1.5 / $2) to rent a towel, but there was free hair and body wash. The building was also better air conditioned than many other capsule hotels, although Sapporo was still drenched under the heat from the Typhoon. A small locker was available for valuables, but I'd brought so little with me I just dropped the bag at the end of my mattress.
I slept well and would really recommend the place (you know, depending on how attached you are to real furniture). It was unique.