Why would you pay to live in a morgue?
Osaka Travel Blog› entry 8 of 93 › view all entries
The Capsule Hotel: Iâ€™ve heard so many horror stories, which is why I feared for my life in the beginning. However, the place that I stayed (LINK) near Dotonbori gave me a wonderful first impression. I was not really in the capsule for most of the night, nor was I that sober during my time sleeping in the capsule, but the amount of things you can do in the hotel for the price you pay is actually quite the bargain. Not only was the capsule much larger than I had imagined, but there was also a very lengthy list of accommodations for the random business traveler or JET (Japanese Exchange Teacher) on a weekend.
I donâ€™t think any of the websites actually prepare you for what to expect, so let me try to explain how the capsule hotel industry has tried to gain your trust in a peaceful stay. The automatic first thought about this industry exudes a certain coolness factor to the college graduate traveling around and living life. But I could imagine it as a horrifying weekend for the parents to hear their son (and hopefully not daughter) say â€śI think itâ€™s a good idea to stay at a capsule hotelâ€¦ Oh, safety? I donâ€™t know. I think they have some safety or something around here.â€ť I did the grown-up thing and just left my parents an email after already deciding for my own and paying for the night. Revolution! The time difference really didnâ€™t give them much input into my decision-making process, but Iâ€™m sure they would have reinforced my initial doubts and made it harder for me (and waste 2 more minutes of my time weighing choices) to eventually decide on staying.
So, after properly informing your parents, friends, and loved ones of your stay without them making a big difference in your decision, this particular capsule hotel simply requires your name and passport number to register. I think they want you to put your American address just in case you get eaten by the capsule monsters. This warning is, of course, outlined in the Japanese contract that you sign with blood (just kidding, the contract is in English and it tells you the checkout time and such). With your payment for the night comes the designated capsule space and corresponding locker space. Your shoes are taken off and put into a locked set of lockers in the front of the building. This key is kept by the front desk so your shoes are not imprisoned along with yourself in the hotel while you try and break the locker open with everyday items like a mop and a coat hanger (that didnâ€™t happen at all).
The locker comes with a set of shrunken PJs (LINK) and a safe space to keep all of your valuables. Of course there are no pockets in these shrunken PJs, so I risk the chance of losing my wallet in my left hand, more than the locker key around my neck. Unless you donâ€™t mind the walk, I would suggest just not buying anything while youâ€™re in the place anyway. Although, I did find the few coins I took out to be useful in purchasing beer from the vending machine. Yes, I know. Donâ€™t we all want beer dispensed from a vending machine at our whim? Itâ€™s stationed right next to the instant noodles, so any college graduate (we have stomach-linings evolved to support consistent supplies of beer and instant noodles) can basically live in front of that vending machine forever (as long as they keep refilling both).
Other attractions in this basement include a set of sports channels on LCD TVs, lounging chairs with full lounging features, massage chair (100 yen for 10 minutes), massage service (3000 yen for 30 minutes), manga library with full series (yay for Love Hina), pachinko machine (for the addict), video game area (also for the addict), sauna, onsen, and late night cafeterias. I think if you have a good imagination, this sounds like an executive stay at the Belagio, but really these attractions are all cramped into the basement and second floor. Theyâ€™ve optimized nicely and put in what I consider to be the essentials of a fun stay.
This capsule hotel has found the balance of exceeding the expectations of any initial false assumptions of a capsule hotel without overly impressing me to suspect that theyâ€™re trying to cover-up for something worse, like the capsule vampires.
So you ask, â€śWhat about the girls?â€ť Well they have their own capsule space, away from the giant capsule amoebas with the other girls. Thereâ€™s a rumor (that I just started) that all of their capsules are pink and covered in stickers and stuffed animals (only the kind with animals in other animal costumes).
The only bad thing I can say about this hotel (besides the whole part where you live in a capsule), is that you can hear absolutely every little echo, rustle of sheets, snoring, sleep talking, moaning, 4AM sex, etc. (it wasnâ€™t me). The light sleepers and claustrophobic are not advised to stay here. They would definitely lie awake thinking about those capsule ninjas. And if thereâ€™s anything Iâ€™m sure of, I know that capsule zerg feed off of these fleeting thoughts.
Anyway, I have digressed. I thought the whole capsule hotel would be filled with English speaking tourists, but the majority of faces were Japanese and they looked more like salesmen than travelers. I could be completely wrong, and I didnâ€™t bother asking them in my broken Japanese where they were from like some weirdo, so please take the previous comment with that in mind. Itâ€™s not like they came with their families or they were taking pictures of the different capsules for a story like I was. Another possibility is that they were just dropping off their things and going out to drink until 4AM like I did.
~See Lemons Excited for the Next Adventure
P.S. Capsule creatures are fictionalâ€¦ except for the ninjas. Beware of the ninjas. :D â€“ this was immensely fun to write. The part two will be posted tomorrow.
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The first thing the professor asked me is â€śWhat do you want to do?â€ť The only response I could think of was â€śeverything and anything.â€ť Iâ€™m not sure if he took this as indecisiveness or flexibility, but I intended it to be 100% pure, unfiltered, unabridged passion with no added artificial preservatives. This excitement was withheld as I sat at the edge of my seat waiting for the choice of assignments. Instead of showing me a set of cards and having me pick randomly, he gave me a chance to speak with my fellow researchers and other professors at different research facilities strewn across campus. This gave me the opportunity to explore my own interests and meet peers with similar excitement towards the subject.
The first day was very concise in introductions, but throughout the week, it felt like a series of blind dates. They were setting me up with different types of attractive projects, which all gave me an erection. My only method of determining which project was better, was to time how long it took for me to peak â€“ and oh yes, each eventually led me to ecstasy. I use this symbolism for a select group of my friends/readers :D.
For example, the female android at the center of most media (ADD LINK) took about 10 seconds after it was turned on. She followed my movement, spoke to me, smiled when I smiled, and had sensors which made her flinch in the cutest way (splurge). If you were as enthusiastic as me about this dream come true, you would probably react the same way (or at least exaggerate the reactions in a similar fashion).
All of the project overviews and goals that I will mention have been thought of by most researchers in this field, but the unique solutions to these problems will not be divulged in any of my segments. Basically, tapu sikureto details :P.
CB2 (Child-robot with a biometric body), also known to me as the ugly big gray baby, was another random date. Itâ€™s a combination of a lot of existing ideas into creating a child developing robot. It packs close to 200 sensors and 50 actuators, allowing it to run on hydraulics instead of external motors. The baby follows two-person conversations, makes baby noises when you pat its head, and has an incorporated amount of baby fidgeting.
Another notable cool project is the artificial voicebox. It mimics the human throat by making vowel sounds with different deformations of the air column at different segments. It said the vowels perfectly with the same constant air source. I do like the idea of working on a robot with a throatâ€¦ (that was for James who wanted me to make a sex robot).
Every researcher in each lab is doing something unique to contribute to one of the projects, so there are about 50 different types of algorithms utilizing all corners in the vast topics of AI, stochastic robotics, and signal manipulation.
~See Lemons Build Robots
I didnâ€™t have the case of the Mondays. There were plenty of essentials that needed to be taken care of. For one, my apartment room did not have any pots, bowls, chopsticks, cups, soap, or garbage bags. These items were luckily available at the wink of my eye and purse of my lips. Contrary to popular assumption (mostly from my close friends and classmates), I did not seduce the receptionist to get the best supplies available. All the supplies were the same â€“ I checked. She spoke English decently, but I couldnâ€™t tell her age.
This seems to be one of my largest dilemmas in this community.
I developed a pretty solid rule for determining female age in this country: If they look 16 and are not wearing school uniforms on weekdays, they are probably college students. If they look 18 and theyâ€™re wearing skirts with knee-high socks, they are probably 22-year-old research or masterâ€™s students (also major JAPs).
The added polynomial age to the appearance age does drastically inverse at some point. I am not quite sure of the exact age, but it might be an overnight phenomenon. You wake up one day, and your youth disappears. You are 45 and you look damn near 60. The hump begins to form, your pace slows, youâ€™re limping, and dinner grocery shopping has moved up to 9AM. What happened to all of the years between the extremes of looking like a hello kitty wearing teenager and looking like a walking zombie?
They have been given the gift of youth, and it is a pity to see them waste it with the layers of makeup and artificial enhancements to their hair, eyes, lips, cheeks, and nails.
Rent is ridiculously cheap here and I get my own room. I think I would pay close to $600 if this apartment was in the city, but Iâ€™m paying about $250. Thereâ€™s a small balcony overlooking a little pond, and also enough room to fit a small kitchen, bathroom, foyer, bed, dresser, and two desks. Stories of the so-called â€śprisonsâ€ť in other campus dorms were described to me in great detail. Letâ€™s just say I am very fortunate to have my own bathroom. I think this would only happen in an International dorm because Japanese culture barely raises their voice or dares to Jay-walk, let alone steal.
To exchange yen for rent and spending-money for the rest of the month, I had to go to the bank. Do not make the same mistake I did. Bring your passport to the bank when exchanging money. They do not accept color copies of passports or drivers licenses, nor did they understand my plea that I live 20 minutes away.
The walk to the bank was during rush hour so I was basically the salmon swimming upstream. At least I was sure that all of these students were of college age. Their walking pace rivaled that of a New Yorker. The sound of the marching footsteps drowned out the few voices that conversed.
Everything worked out well with the exchange, but it was already noon when I got back to meet with the internet service company representative. A salesman was sent to my door and offered some very expensive Internet plans. The one that I wanted to get was 160Mbps for $60 a month. I would normally splurge and just subscribe so I could exploit this speed, but the contracts are binding to a minimum of 6 months.
The first day I arrived, I was given very vague directions to get to the research lab, but everything wound up working out because I had a map and balls of steal. The events unraveled nicely due to my high expectations for getting completely and utterly lost in finding my way there. I was not pessimistically viewing the situation, but rather probabilistically calculating my chance of success. In fact, I was so sure that I would fail that I prepared myself to be disappointed, frightened, and in a panicking state.
I arrived to my meeting with Professor Ishiguro, and very quickly fell into my position as the new guy. The resemblance between himself and his android really is frightening. I was directly thrown into a corner with an internet connection and a few English speaking fellow researchers. Martin, Richie, and Cyril were my first acquaintances, and I must admit, they gave me positive reinforcement of an enjoyable stay.
Martin is a Canadian who is fluent in speaking Japanese. His friendly nature mixes with an oddly familiar sense of humor, both combined to form an interestingly mellow aura.
Richie is a very tall, fluent Japanese speaking Irish. He looks like Jakeâ€™s brother when he doesnâ€™t shave for a month, but with a red rabbinical beard and a slight Irish accent. Sometimes he even puts the same inflections on sentences as I have observed Dave to, which is very strange when I hear him speak Japanese. He emits a strong presence with a matching unique sense of humor, supported by a great deal of knowledge in almost every subject.
Cyril is a stylishly dressed, expert cellist from France. There is a bit of a French accent in his English, but we understand each other when discussing fencing, metal cello (Symphony & Metallica), and origami. His routine is concrete down to the hour: same few favorites for lunch, same few favorites for dinner, a set time for cello practice, a set time for grabbing snacks (chocolate pocky with a 500ml can of coke), and a routine of making a small paper crane from the dinnerâ€™s receipt. In no way was I stalking, nor am I imposing any negative judgment. Instead, I am merely stating that my conclusions were based on very clearly portrayed characteristics in his (and everyone elseâ€™s) methodical actions.
The initial set of personalities and cultural backgrounds made me realize that this was very much an international research facility.
~See Lemons Content