After meeting a Gundam and a wannabe Lady Liberty in Odaiba in my last post, it was time to check into my first ever capsule hotel in Kiba ready for a night out in Shinjuku. But more on that later!
Since reading this post from Backpacker Becki I’ve been half fascinated and half-repulsed by the bright lights and blare of the Robot Restaurant. At ¥5000, though, it’s a little steep and I was already stealing myself for a VERY early morning. Instead my friend and I went to the 魔法の国のアリス restaurant.
魔法の国のアリス or mahou no kuni na arisu, is the Japanese title for Alice In Wonderland and if the picture above wasn’t so crappy you would see a host of themed food in the display case. You can see them here instead.
The magic book cover door slides open to reveal a book tower front desk…
魔法の国のアリス: MINUS 10
Mr No Wonderland informed us of the ¥500 service charge per person and led us across the chess board floor, past the many empty astro turfed booths and the vacant heart-shaped table…
…to a table right next to two of the very few diners. I really don’t like it when restaurants do this. Someone distract me with a beautifully distressed hardback menu thick as a doorstop with a gold padlock and illustrations please!
Thats more like it!
On the menu tonight we have Talking Flower Salad and Assorted Cheese on the Chessboard.
And how about something to drink? We have Futterwacken of The Mad Hatter, an Alice Tea Party and, um…orange juice?
OK so OPI still takes the prize for naming skills. I think the Alice in Wonderland restaurant spent all their creativity on food presentation – particularly the desserts (which was all we ordered).
Which character do you think this one is?
There are Wonderland themed restaurants in Shibuya, Ginza, Ikebukuro and Shinjuku – though you may need a white rabbit to help you find it after hours in the Odakyu Halc building! Each venue seems to have a different design feature. For example:
- Shibuya has a carousel dining section.
- Ginza an entrance where you enter through giant book pages, plus playing card table tops and tea cup booths.
- Ikebukuro lets you dine inside a chandelier.
- Shinjuku lets you dine inside the grass labyrinth.
The food is expensive and nothing special but the presentation is what you’re paying for. Part of the reason I wanted to go here was because I missed my chance to go to the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall when I was in Tokyo Disneyland last year. I don’t think there was as much attention to detail here and while the many basement staircases and dingy lino halls we took to get here may be beyond the restaurant’s reach, there’s no reason they couldn’t have done something with the tables and dinnerware. If they’re selling an immersive fantasy dining experience they should be weeding out all the unnecessary reminders of reality. And if the waitress has to cosplay then why doesn’t the man inside the door? Shouldn’t that be where the journey down the rabbit hole begins?
dinner dessert we strolled through late night Shinjuku in search of Golden Gai.
Golden Gai is a network of narrow alleys and tiny bars that I expected to recognise from a gaggle of bar-hoppers but the place was so silent we actually walked right by it. Perhaps it was the earlier bad weather but it was pretty much deserted and many of the bars had the lights on but closed doors so it was hard to tell if there was anyone inside and we didn’t particularly want to be the only ones there. I decided then that my only criteria was an open door with at least one other customer and the first one we found we went into.
We stayed for one drink and that cost me ¥600 which is proof that despite it’s shanty appearance, Golden Gai is not a cheap place to drink. Still, I think with the buzz of other patrons it would have been a fun place to hang out. But I bet the walls sweat in high summer!
After Golden Gai I caught the train to Otemachi and if I hadn’t run all the way to get my next train to Kiba, or I’d paused for just a second, I wouldn’t have made the last train to MY AWESOME CAPSULE FOR THE NIGHT!
Complete with TV, wired internet, alarm, mirror, pillows, a sheet, towels, slippers, a robe and a locker for ¥2,800 IF you book through the Japanese version of the Tokyo Kiba Hotel website. The English version tries to charge you ¥4000 but I actually booked through Booking.com before I realised that and paid ¥3000. It was still a bargain.
I chose the Kiba Hotel because I misunderstood how close it was to Tsukiji Fish Market and thought it was within easy walking distance. When I arrived the staff told me is was actually about a 50-minute walk which would mean even less sleep before the market. Luckily it was only a 5-8 minute taxi ride.
I loved my capsule thing SO much! I cannot believe it’s taken me four and half years of living in Japan to try one of these. Or that I only got to enjoy this one for a grand total of four hours! (Including one hour forty-five of sleep time). I posted a little video tour on my Facebook fanpage which gives a better idea of the size. I was so surprised that I could sit up easily and turn comfortably without banging against the sides and disturbing anyone.
While I was still going in and out to the bathroom and my locker I kept my head by the entrance, facing the back of the capsule as in this photo. Then I turned the other way around to sleep. It was very cosy and comfortable and not at all claustrophobic – not that I suffer from that anyway.
I didn’t turn the TV on but the fact that there was a remote control cracked me up considering I could reach everything with my arm!
My capsule was on the 4th floor where the men’s bathroom was. The ladies’ was on the 5th floor and had this awesome sink with a soap dispenser, tap and hand dryer in sequence under the hood. Downstairs there was a lounge area with vending machines and computers, and somewhere there was a sauna which I didn’t get to check out.
I recommend this hotel wholeheartedly for price and convenience and capsules in general for AWESOMENESS and FUN and UNIQUE EXPERIENCES and CAPITAL LETTERS!!!
But seriously, a capsule hotel that accepts women is not the easiest thing to find and this one was safe, clean and literally one minute from Kiba Station. I was there on a Monday night and many of the capsules were empty. It might not have felt so homely if we’d been packed in like sardines.
Speaking of sardines, which we weren’t but I’m good with a crowbar, my next post is about Tsukiji Fish Market. Please check back for that and let me know if you’ve stayed at a capsule hotel yourself, particularly if it’s one you’d recommend. I’m definitely feeling the pod love…