Accommodation Options If you Miss the Last Train
This article is dedicated to those who are not used to renting cars in their travel destinations and miss the last train in Japan, like in my case. This is because they think that if they do not use the public transport or take the mandatory but stimulating walks, they might miss out on a great part of the experience, which is to see the day-to-day life of the normal resident. In Japan’s case, the means of transport are a magnificent example of how well organized the society is. Fast, clean, safe and always on time, using them will definitely be part of the good things that you have to talk about after your trip. But, unlike other (not so many) nations, in Japan and particularly its biggest cities, buses, subways and trains do not work 24 hours a day. However, there are various accommodation options to consider.
After visiting a theater or attending an event at night, or simply after dining or talking and drinking until the bar closes, you might realize that the subways and trains have stopped operating and you are unable to return to your hotel. Or perhaps you are on your way back and suddenly, the train stops and all the passengers get off because the service ends at that particular station. This is a predicament that even the Japanese find themselves in, not just because they were out having a good time, but also because it is not uncommon for them to work past the wee hours of the night in their culture. Hence, a number of accommodation options are available to solve this little dilemma.
It goes beyond saying that if you are in the mood to do it, walking the blocks to your hotel can be a tiresome but interesting experience, since you will see the city in its late hours, which is something not a lot of tourists can experience. In the same way, if you feel like catching a cab, (usually the most viable option in other countries) it can be very expensive since you are probably by yourself. Even with another companion where you split the total fare, it is still a lot of money.
(Source: Daily Mail)
(Source: Fox News)
Looking for temporary accommodation (although you have already paid for a hotel that night) becomes the cheapest and most realistic option at this point, since at least you will have a chance to rest and not lose hours the next day. Around the subway and train stations, you will usually find some of the so-called business hotels that provide small rooms with a single bed and a private bathroom. But perhaps that is not the most economic options of all. In some zones of certain cities (Tokyo: Shinjuku, Shibuya. Osaka: Nipponbashi, Umeda) there are the love hotels, which are clearly meant for couples who want to spend a night there (you cannot stay there by yourself). The advantage of these accommodations is that you can choose different rooms with different prices and in some of them, you can rent by the hour and wait for the trains to move again. One other option that you have probably heard of when you planned your trip to Japan are the capsule hotels, but since it is the most affordable option, every capsule will likely be occupied, especially on weekends.
Locals usually head for the internet café or manga café. In such places, beyond using the computers or reading an endless number of mangas of any kind (they are like libraries), one can rent a cubicle for hours, with the best promotions during nighttime since it is common for Japanese people to resort to this option. These establishments have restrooms where you can take a shower for an extra price, the same with beverages and snacks that you can buy inside the place.
Fast Food Chains
And as a last option (almost as an emergency) and spending almost no money, is going to a fast food restaurant chain just like McDonalds. Buy any product and try to spend some time there until you can take the first bus, subway or train in the morning. Luckily, I did not ever have to do that, but I have gone in there to get a midnight snack and found people who were doubtlessly in such a situation, with some of them sleeping over the tables like it was nothing. And rest assured that it is very improbable to have somebody come to tell you off, because if you are not bothering anybody with your snoring, nobody cares what you are doing there.
With this information, you will have more options when it comes to decide what to do and how much to spend. There is no doubt that enjoying the night and its activities are part of the experience in the city, but you also need to know how to save your time and get your rest. Whatever your choice is, I wish you luck!