Picture a tiny windowless room, just big enough to stretch out in (as long as you aren’t of above-average height) and store a few meager belongings. It sounds like the description of a prison cell, but young professionals in Tokyo are willingly paying up to $600 per month to live in cabinet-like rooms like these.
These pictures from a recent Japanese news story show the “geki-sema,” or “share houses” in all their claustrophobic detail. The cabinets are reminiscent of the capsule hotels that have been popular in Japan and other countries for years. The difference is that these “apartments” are slightly larger and are meant for long-term occupancy, not simply one night of shut-eye.
The typical geki-sema resident spends most of his or her day at the office, outdoors, or spending time away from home with friends. These tiny chambers aren’t meant to be gathering places for groups of buddies; they are strictly for sleeping, changing clothes, and perhaps keeping a few important items close at hand.
Tokyo landlords began offering this strange type of housing to cash in on the chronic housing shortage that plagues the city. The impossibly tiny apartments are often stacked to maximize the number of residents that can fit into a small area. While we can get behind the idea of small-space living, this concept takes it to the extreme. Without a private bathroom or even a window, it seems that it would be very simple to lose your sanity in a room not much larger than a coffin.