I won’t apologize for not posting in a while–you wouldn’t have wanted me to, I promise. Basically my days have been going by like this: school, shopping, school, homework, wandering, school, more homework.

But now I have a story to tell. This is the story of the Clueless American and the Ways of the Japanese Hotel System. You see, the quarter break is coming up fast (a whole week of no speaking or kanji tests! Whee!), and I’ve planned a little excursion to Kyoto and Tokyo. Whilst I am staying in Kyoto, I decided to try that purely Japanese experience: the capsule hotel.

Here is what it looks like, basically:

These hotels have been around since the late 1970s, but never really made it outside of Japan. Though they are geared more towards salarymen kept out to obscene hours of the morning by bosses (in Japan, business relationships often include long nights spent drinking with coworkers at bars), I’ve always wanted to try one. Plus, they’re cheap.

Which brings me to my slightly funny story. I’m not sure why this is so, but I discovered that when you make a reservation for 9 Hours (this is a famous capsule hotel in Kyoto, the one pictured above), you pay almost twice as much if you make the reservation in English. Here’s what happened. I went onto the website and clicked “Reservations.” Curiosity led me to click “Japanese reservations” (of course, written in kanji) instead of “Reservations in English.” I filled out the forms and chose my dates and got to the end page… and it said 2500 JPY per night. That’s about 28 USD, which for a hotel in the heart of Kyoto is practically unheard of. Particularly since most capsule hotels do not allow women–9 Hours has separate elevators and floors for women–and since most of them charge by the hour.

Of course, I was thrilled, but wanted to be absolutely certain that I hadn’t done anything wrong. So I went back and followed through the steps via the English reservations… but much to my surpreese (if you recognized that reference, congratulations, you have no life. =D), the price had suddenly jumped from 2500 JPY to 4900 JPY per night. Well! I at first was a little mad. But then I decided to go back through the Japanese language reservation and see what was up with this change in price.

Surprise surprise: the hotel is attempting to draw local people from the surrounding prefectures, so if you can understand Japanese and get online, you get the special “Internet Price” of 2500 JPY per night (except weekends, where it’s 2800). The normal price for everyone IS 4900–the hotel just hasn’t bothered to offer this to English speakers because they don’t get enough business from travelers from outside of Japan to make the effort worthwhile.

I sent an e-mail, wondering, and got back a very nice, lengthy reply that explained how few English speakers ever come to 9 Hours (I sent the e-mail in Japanese of course).

In any case, I cut the price I would have paid in half. Thaaank you, Japanese classes! Whoo.