Have you ever wished you could stow away in a bookshop over night?
I have always been a bookworm. Intrinsically able to navigate my way to and from the train station without taking my eyes away from the words. I could read for hours at a time, in the bath, under the blanket with a torch, even in the back seat of the car. Long road trips meant hours of uninterrupted reading.
I spent much of my childhood immersed in various fantasy worlds. Feeling a sense of deep connection with Nancy Drew, Moonface, and Anne Frank. Books represented escape, like travel. The opportunity to experience deeply, but from a place of relative safety. I would develop deep and meaningful relationships with the characters, and cry at the end of a series over the “loss” of my new friends.
In primary school, I was a library monitor. A coveted position of power, and warmth in cooler months. A space free from difficult pre-pubescent female relationships, and loud and obnoxious boys. Setting the new date on the stamp used for checking books out was my favourite morning ritual.Forty years later, my library monitor badge remains safe in my trove of treasured chattels. An enamel representation of my impregnable garrison. Guarded by knowledge, stories, and the library teacher.
The State Library of Victoria is, and has been, my happy place. Prior to the disruptive pandemic laying every individual’s normal in dishevelled upheaval, I went weekly. My indulgent day of writing in the hallowed environment was my favourite day of the week.
I am a collector of books and an old-book-smell aficionado. The pile next to my bed never grows smaller. I am the embodiment of tsundoku, the Japanese art of accumulating books at a rate far outpacing my speed of reading, which may or may not be read, in the end.
A few years ago, photos of a new hotel chain in Tokyo began trending on Instagram. The result, I knew we had to visit. Book and Bed is, essentially, a capsule hotel. A very cool, very funky, very Tokyo space. A hotel which looks like a bookshop, where you sleep within the shelves, among the books.
Predominantly concrete and plywood with low lighting, it is a uniquely Tokyo experience. The bookshelves are filled with photography and music books, Japanese magazines and a small collection of books in English. They conceal pods or sleeping capsules, with double futons. Each “room” is curtained from the shared space and accessible via a ladder. The cubbyhole contains a small shelf, a safe, a double power outlet and a light. There is a space under the bookshelves for luggage and your shoes.
Amenities are shared. However, in true Japanese style, are immaculate and comfortable. Most places in Japan supply you with shampoo, conditioner and bodywash. Book and Bed also offers towel, pyjamas and toothbrushes for a minimal fee. There is an on-site café, with excellent coffee, which doubles as a bar at night. There is a great view over the Shinjuku skyline and at around $85AUD a night for a couple, it is super affordable for Tokyo.