Japan is world famous for its ‘capsule hotels’, where office workers catch some shut-eye in tiny pods. But now, sleeping in a coffin- like room isn’t just for the odd night – it’s a part of everyday life for students or jobseekers who dwell in pokey spaces. Photographer Won Kim captured their world in series “Enclosed: Living Small.”

What’s life like for those living in such claustrophobic spaces? Is it difficult?

It’s not as difficult as one might imagine once you get used to it. Also, most residents are relatively young because they are students, backpackers, jobseekers, and so on. That could be one of the reasons how they can get used to it so easily.

What are the circumstances behind living small?

There is no other place that lets you stay for $12 per night in Tokyo. But they have a huge living room, and a shared kitchen.

How would you describe what it’s like inside these tiny rooms?


When I first put myself into that tiny space, I felt extremely cosy. I often think this kind of feeling stems from the homing instinct since I have a fetish for a womb-like space.

Where did you first encounter the idea to do a photo series on this?

I ran into a place like this while I was backpacking in Japan in 2013, and fell in love with it immediately. This place seems like it’s hidden inside one of those ordinary office buildings in Tokyo, and the place is mixed up with many international people coming from across the world. I wondered how these people decorate and organize their rooms, and thought I should come back again to do a photo series next year.

What did you learn from documenting this curious world of cramped living?

A few of the rooms I saw were super tidy and neat, but I realized if the room is too neat, then it isn’t interesting subject to photography. The messier the room was, the cozier I felt, which I didn’t expect before I started photographing.

To see more of Won Kim's work visit:  http://www.wonkimphotography.com/