I'd been looking forward to this night's sleep more than most in recent memory. I'd heard that Nine Hours, a capsule hotel in Kyoto known for its stark sci-fi design and innovative sleeping technology, would be closing down at the end of October, and I knew I'd have to make the trip across Japan while I still had time.

Capsule hotels are up there with sushi and Hello Kitty in the pantheon of things that foreigners think about when they think about Japan, and yet I'd never actually stayed in one despite close to five years spent living here. They don't have the best image within the country — seedy, dirty, and often less than safe. They've been around since the '70s, and the majority of their user base in the following decades appears to have been mostly made up of drunk office workers looking for a place to crash after missing their last train.