It has happened to the best of us: one drink too much, a missed connection or a long goodbye and suddenly the last train is gone. You stand on the dark platform and stare at the vast night lying ahead of you. The trains have stopped running and you cannot afford the taxi ride back home. What now?
Luckily Tokyo is one of the best places to spend an unexpected night. Not only is it one of the safest cities in the world, it also offers a lot of ways to pass your time until the sun comes up again. I have excluded the obvious choice of checking into a common hotel from this list; these personal recommendations are for the adventurers as well as travelers on a budget out there.
Let me start off with a hotel of the special kind. Love Hotels – especially built for couples to spend a few hours behind closed doors – are already an attraction for many tourists. Even if you are alone and just plan to sleep through the night Love Hotels are a great alternative to regular hotels. First of all, you can choose between a “Rest” of a couple of hours or a “Stay” for the whole night. Either way Love Hotels are both cheap and attractive to foreigners since often you can book a room through a touch panel that does not require you to speak much Japanese.
For those of you that feel uneasy about walking into such an establishment, trust me: there is no stigma attached to it and people will not give you a weird look if you walk out of a Love Hotel. Also, the rooms don’t have any crazy or unique interieur but look just like common hotel rooms. Just make sure you arrive as soon as possible since many Love Hotels, especially in popular areas like Shibuya, get booked up early.
Moving on to a second unique hotel, let’s discover the obscurity known as Capsule Hotel. For those of you that don’t know, Capsule Hotels have been invented for Japanese businessmen who really don’t need anything more than one bed for the night. Also, since Japan and especially Tokyo are known for their lack of space the idea of the Capsule Hotel was born where you – who would have thought – sleep in a capsule for the night.
Most of those capsules are equipped with air conditioning, a small TV, different light settings and an alarm clock. Many hotels offer additional showering options as well as vending machines or small restaurants so that customers are good to go in the morning. Keep in mind however that businessmen are still the target audience and there are some hotels that do not allow women to stay for the night.
McDonald’s and Co.
Similar to New York City, Tokyo is a city that never sleeps. Many international chain stores are open 24/7 and are used to people waiting inside until the trains start running again. If you don’t mind sitting in one spot for a couple of hours and spending some money on a drink or small fries, then this is the way to go. Be prepared though that for some stores there are night guards on patrols that will wake up any drunk businessman passing out on a table.
Manga Cafés are another popular spot for fans of Japanese pop culture. They definitely offer you the best deal for the least amount of money.
Most cafés require you to pay at least a fixed price for one hour even if you leave earlier than that. However, for this money you don’t only get access to more manga than you can imagine, but also free internet access, video games, television and vending machines. Some might even include showering possibilities but the details depend on the kind of café you are visiting. Manga Cafés are my personal recommendation if you don’t need a bed to sleep but are ready to pass the time reading manga and surfing the web.
Karaoke rooms are a great alternative if there are no Capsule or Love Hotels around but you still want to get some privacy and a short nap before the day starts. They can be booked for a couple of hours or the whole night and even though sleeping inside them is not the intended use there are many people still doing it.
There is not much you get besides a room and access to a drink bar with water, tea or soft drinks. However, many Karaoke rooms offer a food menu with overpriced meals you can order. It might be hard to fall asleep while listening to the drunk singing of the people in the room next door, but at least you get a whole room to yourself. And if you get bored you can entertain yourself with a personal concert.
Even though missing the last train and being stranded in a big city isn’t a pleasant experience it can still make for a great adventure. Tokyo is a city that comes to life at night and seeing its second face is definitely worth it. At night, you can see Japan apart from the popular sightseeing spots and the bustle of the day.
Have you tried any of these spots or would you like to try them out? Feel free to share any personal experiences or stories – also about your own country – in the comment section down below.