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Coffin Homes, Capsule Hotels and the Tiny Asian House Epidemic

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Asia is known for square melons, panty-vending machines, food items you wouldn’t taste with someone else’s tongue and all manner of tiny innovations. They have tiny cars and tiny phones and tiny feet (traditionally). And, in case you didn’t know, they also have tiny sleeping quarters like coffin homes. Why build big, luxurious houses when you can be forced into some manner of sub-squalor typically only witnessed in post-apocalyptic movies and downtown Manhattan?

Coffin Homes

Have you ever been to Hong Kong? If you get the chance, see if you can get a tenement home tour if you visit sometime, it’s quite striking. Despite Chinese propaganda assuring us that Hong Kong is all Tia Carrere, Jackie Chan and kumites, there’s also plenty of 15 square foot houses that actual, non-cartoon, non-magical humans live in. How do you live in a 15 square foot home? More like how don’t you. No wait, it’s not like that. The first one was a good question.

In some places in Hong Kong people live in stacked cages, kind of the way they store chickens or rabbits at auctions. Why live like that? Because it’s not on the street and apparently that counts for something, even if it means you and 20 other people have to share the same toilet and shower. Do you have any idea how awful a toilet shared by 20 people who have been so demoralized that they live in cages must look like?

Because normal apartments in Hong Kong are insanely expensive when compared to similar apartments in literally any other city on earth, people lacking funds really have no means to live normally, so these little craptastic holes in the wall are becoming more and more popular. Just wait till people figure out you can dig holes deep enough to lie down in.


Capsule Hotel


Courting claustrophobia is apparently a past time in Japan, so someone went ahead and created this hotel. The real question is whether or not they existed before or after this episode of Seinfeld.

Really makes you think…

Why would anyone willingly hide themselves in a drawer and call it a bedroom? Doesn’t matter, thanks to the unspoken rule of the internet age that says you may never, under any circumstances, question anything you learn about Japan and, if you can’t help it, never expect a rational answer. This is a nation whose most beloved film icon is a monster that consistently arrives to destroy the country’s biggest city. A nation that produces cartoons that give people seizures. A country that figured poisonous puffer fish might be god to eat, if we could just figure out a way to get around all that poison.

Capsule hotels generally offer patrons a room that’s about 6 feet long by 3 feet across and maybe 4 feet high. It’s like your own really snazzy trunk to sleep in. They cost $25 to $50 a night and are apparently really popular with drunks and the unemployed who need a cheap place to stay. Plus there’s always a chance that if you’re in one and the building turns into a giant robot, you’ll get to fight Voltron. Sweet.

Cave Dwellings

According to some statistics (whatever stats on the internet are worth to you) upwards of 30 million people in China live in caves. Real ones that exist in rocks and stuff.

Technically speaking the caves actually maintain heat in winter, keep it cool in summer, provide great security and protection from the elements and are pretty easy to put together since you don’t need to build so much as hollow out a hole in some rock.

Arguably a cave home could be huge, you could cut your way right through a mountain if you wanted to, call your home Moria and have it epic in scale, but odds are most people are only digging in some far and, at the end of the day, they’re living inside a rock. Kind of like those toads. Ever see those toads? They live in rocks. It’s crazy.

Thin Housing

Japan has a population of 127 million. It’s also about 377, 835 sq km. The area of the United States is about 9.8 million sq. km. So the US has 25 times more space but only three times the population. That, in turn, means Japan needs to be a lot more clever in terms of where they stick people than the people in Kentucky do. Solution? Preposterous housing. Take a look at this madness.

Some homes in Japan are literally less than 6 feet wide. These buildings exist all over, you’ll find some in New York, some in London, England and throughout South America, but the sheer number of them in Japan takes the cake. How many are there? What are we, architects? There’s a lot. Just look in corners, they’re jammed everywhere.

3 Responses to "Coffin Homes, Capsule Hotels and the Tiny Asian House Epidemic"

  1. Al Frank says:

    Good article. One ed note though: “Courting claustrophobia is apparently a PASTIME in Japan,”

  2. rgar says:

    Wow. Holy Taco did the seemingly impossible and managed to entertain me today more than Cracked. Good job.

  3. DonkeyXote says:

    Shut up and make room, bitches.