Small living spaces in Japan are nothing new. There are plenty of bite-size apartments you can rent in the populous city, as well as what are known as ‘capsule hotels,’ or rather impossibly small spaces you can rent for the night (or longer) that literally look like oversized rows of dog kennels.
One particular example of ‘tiny’ living in Japan can be found in a hidden capsule hotel located in Tokyo. The small quarters were designed with backpackers in mind, but all sorts of people call the place home, some for the long term and others temporarily.
A few years ago photographer Won Kim discovered the gem of tiny rooms. Unable to get the images out of his head he returned 2 years later to take photographs, which turned into an entire series titled “Enclosed: Living Small.”
His photos take you inside of tiny plywood cubicles that are somewhat larger than capsules but still too small to stand up in. There are no windows and only a curtain instead of a door. Despite the lack of personal space each resident has found a way to make it their own by adding book shelves, personal keepsakes, etc. Some keep their small space tidy and organized, while others have let the mess get the best of their space.
For several months Kim called the petite quarters home, using the time to get close to the residents and photograph their womb-like spaces, which many lovingly refer to as home. The whole hotel doesn’t take up much space, expanding across one single floor of an office building located in northeast Tokyo.
Kim writes, “For me, the real interest of the resulting portraits is in how each resident has made use of a such a small, confining space. In each case, the sharply-defined space and its contents tell something about its occupant’s personality, and his or her ability to function in such a strange, enclosed environment.”