Japan's Coffin-Style Apartments Rent at $600 a Month

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Tokyo is known for its large population, but no one would have guessed that many people living in the city are forced to rent tiny “coffin” apartments for up to $600 a month.

The little sleeping areas only have room for a small bed and a few belongings. Those staying in the rooms are not able to stand up, and must crawl in to enter. There are also no windows, and the rooms are stacked on top of each other.

They’re known as “geki-shema,” or share houses, and look similar to cupboards or small cubicles.

Most of the residents are professionals who work long hours and only go home to sleep.

From the outside, these small compartments look like lockers.

They were showcased recently on a show in Japan. Residents share a communal toilet and bath, and get some privacy in their coffin-style beds.

The show included one 24-year-old man who lives in one of the compartments.

“It might be as big as two tatami mats,” he said. He hopes to someday start his own business.

Tatami mats are used to measure room sizes, and are about 1.6 square meters. In Japan, small rooms are considered 4.5 or 6 tatami mats.

The man said he rented the box because he didn’t have much money.

There was also a 19-year-old woman living in one, named Chisato, who had dreams of being an actress. Her room is 1.5 tatami mats, or 2.44 meters wide.

She has managed to fit her television, makeup, a stuffed animal, and some clothes and blankets inside.

Despite its small size, the rooms are quite pricey. While they include heat and electricity in the price, it still totals ¥55,000, or $586, per month.

“If you look, you can find a two bedroom apartment for ¥55,000 a month,” a commenter wrote online. “These people are being deceived.”

The man who wants to start his own business is paying a little less for his room, at ¥45,000 a month. His is likely cheaper because he doesn’t have a window or colored wallpaper.

“This is a locker room,” another commenter wrote. “I thought it was going to be ¥2,000, but it ended up being ¥45,000.”