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Both sad and curious, Tokyo’s capsule hotels are beginning to be used as homes.

When Capsule Hotel Shinjuku 510 opened nearly two decades ago, Japan was just beginning to pull back from its bubble economy, and the hotel’s tiny plastic cubicles offered a night’s refuge to salarymen who had missed the last train home.

Now, Hotel Shinjuku 510’s capsules, no larger than 6 1/2 feet long by 5 feet wide, and not tall enough to stand up in, have become an affordable option for some people with nowhere else to go as Japan endures its worst recession since World War II.

Rent is equivalent of 640 US Dollars a month. Expensive enough, but cheaper than other options in Tokyo.

Each capsule is furnished only with a light, a small TV with earphones, coat hooks, a thin blanket and a hard pillow of rice husks.

Most possessions, from shirts to shaving cream, must be kept in lockers. There is a common room with old couches, a dining area and rows of sinks. Cigarette smoke is everywhere, as are security cameras. But the hotel staff does its best to put guests at ease: “Welcome home,” employees say at the entrance.

Unemployment is 5.2%, not terrible by today’s global standards, but a record high for Japan, and the poverty rate is 15.7%, very high for an industrialized country.

…about two years ago, the hotel started to notice that guests were staying weeks, then months, he said. This year, it introduced a reduced rent for dwellers of a month or longer; now, about 100 of the hotel’s 300 capsules are rented out by the month.After requests from its long-term dwellers, the hotel received special government permission to let them register their capsules as their official abode; that made it easier to land job interviews.

Surprising for Tokyo, there are probably 10,000 homeless there, many sleeping in Internet cafe’s and saunas.

(Don’t forget to visit alphainventions.com)

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8 Comments

  1. Em… In my opinion, living in a hotel is a way of having life, considering the prices of houses these years. We uesd to say that Japan is a model of small nations as being a well developed country.(Despite how chinese looked japanese) Now the problems rises, with more and more external population and limited country’s productivity. That would naturally lead to a fact of uneven distribution of wealth.

  2. when i first looked at the photo of this news. i made me think of a scene of the movie…
    ,,,naturally , japan is a very small country but with a high reproductivity of japanese people,,(ironically),,there must be some hotels with very small space for each unit existing around the country…
    actually , living in that limited space is depressing but funny still…

  3. In this news,you may find an interesting place that you never heard before.Howevere if let me to find something related to Economics,I may consider about the growth and development.We can see the price of such capsule is 640 US Dollar,and is cheaper than other places.According to this point,we can see the economic growth is really high.However there are still 10,000 homeless,a high unemployment rate,a high poverty rate,and a detail that cigarett smoke is everywhere,these evidences are not developed,and not fit to macroeconomic goals —distribution of income and environmental concerns.

  4. At first sight, it is like a laundry that full of washing machines (with giant sizeO(∩_∩)O~)for me.
    From my point of view, the factors which lead to homelessness are the reduction of household size and the instability of living caused by the extreme competition. As worst recession since World War II started to bite, the household cannot support their houses.
    The first is for the Japanese government to take the responsibility of the housing for the people in Japan. Things like residence security policies for the low income earner and the construction of the special residence should be taken. Second, some non-profit organizations should also provide various service for the homeless.
    In Japan, “homeless” issue has emerged as a serious social problem since the 1990s. The number of rough sleepers in Japan has been rapidly increasing after the burst of the bubble economy. Tokyo is the capital of Japan and one of the world’s megacities.10,000 is just the tip of an iceberg。
    And 640 US Dollars a month is still cheaper than other options, what a consumption level!! It seems like my dream trip to Japan is a real dream now.

  5. CAPSULE HOME?!Obviously is not such a good choice for those who suffering from claustrophobia.However, What ever it is,is right.People say 80% of the world resources are used by 20% rich people,which means we are living in a wealth-unfairly-distributed world. I firmly believe taht there are big loads of rich japanese who own big villas with hot spring on this piece of tiny little island. Government should have learn some sort of long-tail theory in order to make future decision.Those who live in capsule hotel are the mian contributors to the society, they are people who need to be considered about.To build some economic hotels in CHINA such as Rujia or MOTL168 might be a good idea.
    BTW:I HATE THE IDEA OF CAPSULE HOTEL

  6. At first view, it looks like the concentration camp. The only different is the higher living standard.(but need to pay) We all know that japan is a wealthy country in the world; however, Tokyo, a modern city, has probably 10,000 homeless there.
    In this case, i think the government should set some policies to protect these poor people. Build some dwelling house for these people.
    This kind of helping not only can help the poor people, but also can steady the regime, otherwise, the society will become chaos when too many people cannot make a living.

  7. From my view, I think it is cheap for people who lost their job to live in that kind of small place. people live in that place to save their money ,the worldwild recession make the normal inflation become decrease, even the defaltion rate is decreased ,it makes the Japanese young people are under the poverty line, also the people with low education level didn’t have enough prefessional competition than others, which means the firms laid them off fistly. so they have to live in such place

  8. I have to say that those rooms are really like capsules, but not home… I just can’t imagine how people can live there for many months! But this is the realistic and cruel society. As you said, there are even many homeless unemployers nowadays. In Tianjin, the prices of houses goes too high and fast that more and more people can’t afford it(like my uncle).
    To reduce poverty rate, the government would better provide more welfare for those poor citizens or give them more improved and free information of jobs.
    (ps: I guess this “capsule hotel” will like financial crisis because it can have more drellers and earn more profits during this period of time…)


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