Japanese Sleeper Car on a Train

Unique Japanese Hostels and Capsule Hotels

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is one of the world’s most populated cities. It is a modern metropolis that’s home to over 13 million people. Tokyo is also a cultural hub where visitors can catch a glimpse of old world Japan, experience unique sights and bargains, as well as designer brand shopping. The city embodies the rich history, culture, and awe-inspiring progress of Japan and its people throughout the centuries. Tokyo is also one of the most expensive cities to live in. For cost conscious travelers who visit Tokyo, staying in hostels can be a wonderful way to stretch your travel budget.

A popular and unique testament to Japanese ingenuity are capsule hotels and other such accommodations. They may just be the best answer for a memorable, clean, and affordable lodging while in Japan.

Capsule Hotel. | Yohmi

Capsule hotels are a popular accommodation in Japan for the weary traveler who may have had a bit too much to drink, missed the last train home, or needs a place to sleep for the night. These have basic amenities without the services offered by other regular hotels. Hence, it’s the go-to place for people of all walks of life.

Another one of a kind hostel that’s worth a try for the thrifty is the Hokutosei Train Hostel. The Hokutosei was a sleeper train that ran from Tokyo all the way to Sapporo, Japan’s largest city on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Hokutosei. | Eiichi Kimura


Hokutosei is the Japanese term for the Big Dipper constellation and the train ran from 1988 to 2015, when it was decommissioned. The sleeping compartments were re-used and reinstalled at its present location as the Hokutosei hostel.

Hokutosei hostel houses four-person dormitory-style rooms and offers semi-private single-person compartments.

Hokutosei hostel. | Screen grab from Japan Today.

Even if the Hokutosei no longer runs, it is still a great place to stay for many visitors because it is strategically located close to the JR Bakurocho train station, from where the Hokutosei train used to depart. It’s the best place to begin when exploring the tech-savvy Akihabara, iconic Asakusa, and historic Ueno.