Friday, March 19, 2004

Google -- Is There Any Illusion It Cannot Demolish ?

I don't remember when I first read about Japan's "capsule hotels" -- it seems to me it was a very long time ago, probably in childhood, and probably in one of those three iconic magazines to which everyone subscribed back then, Life, Look or the Saturday Evening Post. I was deeply impressed, and have carried around an image in my head of gleaming sci-fi establishments, very 2001 Space Odyssey, frequented by quiet, serious, monk-like types in white jump suits, solitary travelers, probably artists, all exuding existential gravitas. I've always been fascinated by the idea of small spaces -- tents, closets, railroad berths, huts, holes, hermitages -- and the little Japanese hotel pods fit right in.

I realized, recently, I could google them.

First off, I learned that they are mostly frequented by drunken businessmen who have missed the last train home. That women, by and large, are not permitted to stay in them. Nor, oddly enough, are tattooed men, since tattoos are a marker for mob affiliation.

The Cosmo Plaza Akabane has an amusingly babelfished website that shows that capsule hotels more resemble kennels than Kubrickian spacecraft.

Another dream, alas, has been demolished. But, in its place, the Cosmo Akabane bathroom offers this koan-like reassurance:

For 24 hours, It can take a bath in the time of your hope.
Your fatigue will be healed by it.

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