Photos Of People Living In Tiny Rooms In Japan

by Lara Rutherford-Morrison

Small living and tiny homes are a growing trend in some parts of the U.S., but these incredibly small living spaces in Japan make American tiny homes look positively spacious. In a series titled, “Enclosed: Living Small,” photographer Won Kim documents the smaller-than-tiny living areas of one Tokyo hotel. His photos prompt the question, “What’s the difference between "cozy" and "claustrophobic"?”

On his website, Kim explains that the site in the photos is “best described as a guesthouse for backpackers.” It is “a sort of downscale version of the well-known "capsule hotels" often used by Japanese businessmen for short-term stays.” The hotel is situated on a single floor of an office building; the individual “rooms” are divided with pieces of unfinished plywood, with curtains to act as doors. None of them are tall enough to allow a guest to stand at full height. Kim writes that the hotel houses a variety of guests, from those needing short-term stays as they travel or save money for a nicer place, to long-term or permanent residents. Though some people might balk at the idea of living in these tiny compartments, Kim writes that he finds “the womb-like qualities of these spaces comforting, not confining.”

The photos reveal different residents’ approaches to living in these tiny spaces, with some clearly fostering a sense of order and minimalism, and others seemingly overwhelmed with stuff. Kim suggests that he finds these differences illuminating, writing that each space “tell[s] something about its occupant’s personality, and his or her ability to function in such a strange, enclosed environment.”

Find out more about the project on Won Kim's website, or follow Kim on Instagram.

Images: Courtesy of Won Kim Photography