Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Capsule Collection

How much space do you really need? No, really -- how much space does your body physically take up? How many possessions do you need to function every day? Do you really need more than that? These "capsule" living spaces -- hotels and apartments -- really challenge the idea that we need anything more than a safe place to sleep. Bathrooms are shared, kitchens are nonexistent (guess you'd better like takeout), and the rooms are mere pods the size of a twin bed. Would you be able to handle it? First up is the Capsule Inn Akikabara in Tokyo, Japan. Obviously, these lil' capsules are meant for a short stay, be it by a traveler, a businessman who's missed the last train home for the evening, or someone curious as to what it's like sleeping inside a microwave.
This hotel seems to be all about convenience. If you're just crashing for the night, do you really need anything more than a bed? I've slept in way more uncomfortable places after spending a night out -- and at only $35 a night, these capsules are about the same price as two drinks at a hip bar in L.A. anyway. Floors are segregated into mens' and womens' floors, there's free wifi, and once you're in your pod there's a TV, radio, alarm clock, and adjustable lighting all available while in a sleeping position. Actually, that last part sounds kinda rad. You can watch TV without even having to sit upright? That really speaks to the lazy in me. If you're looking for more permanent digs, there are capsule apartments like the ones Huang Rixin, a retired engineer, built in Beijing, China. A month's rent there is actually about the same price as a single night in the capsule hotel, but let's just say the apartments look a little more... spartan.
In fact, the capsule apartments are having a hard time attracting tenants. Even after the place was opened up for people to test drive the 2 square meter apartments, they've only got one tenant: a 25 year old woman who's looking to save money to help out her parents financially. That's her place on the left side of the pic above -- her "neighbor" is a reporter who moved in to get a feel for how she can live in such a tiny space. The amenities aren't great -- Zhang Qi reported that she was so cold the first night she couldn't sleep -- but she's making a go of it. She's decorating her teensy apartment, and is optimistic about her new residence. According to the article on China Hush, she feels "she can overcome if others can," and is hoping to stay in her new home until she gets married. So what say you? Think you'd last long in a capsule apartment? I tell you one thing -- if I were gonna stay in a place like that until I got married, I'd be surfing eHarmony every damn day. Via Neatorama, Capsule Hotel Akihabara, and ChinaHush.


  1. All I can see in these smallest-of-the-small apartments is one thing: Claustrophobia. I don't think I'd last longer than a minute or so. Those places might be better than being homeless on a cold night, however.

    Anyhow, just wanted to say that I love your blog. Follow it every post as the small-space thing really applies to me (less than 680 square feet for my 1br home) and I love your sense of humour! So thanks!

  2. Thanks, chica! I think I could get claustrophobic, too; the hotel pods in particular are a little too coffinlike. But I can also see how they'd be comfy cozy, like being holed up in a lil' nest.

  3. I couldn't relax in one of those capsules because I'd be too worried about suffocating or not making it to a bathroom in time :D

    I'm trying to save money by seeking smaller inlaws or room+bath type spaces. The smallest I've considered was about 80sq feet, which is just about the size of my cube space at work. I figure I can hack anything the same size or larger since I basically "live" in such a space half a day anyway. I couldn't tolerate anything smaller with my current furniture, but I've seen pics of well designed, tiny lofted spaces I wouldn't mind trying out. There's so much more flexibility when you aren't renting.

  4. I love that even though she has such a small space, the capsule apt tenant brought in so much art. It really shows what's important to life as a human being. I don't think I could live in an apartment that small, but I love her answers about depression, safety and success.

    The capsule hotels though, are amazing. Definitely staying there if ever I get to Tokyo!

  5. You know, I think I'd be more physically active in a space that small. You would think it'd be the opposite, but I think I'd be less likely to spend time at home just lounging around in such a small space. I generally feel pretty comfortable in confined spaces, oddly enough, but my sense of restlessness would keep me out and about more without room for all of my books and video games lol. Additionally, while I'd admittedly be spending more money on dining out, I wouldn't have the money to spend on anything else, like books I'll only read once or clothes I don't need. :)

  6. Hahaha e-harmony! Newbei to the blog and this is my first post thanks!


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