Japan’s property market is starting to build momentum for the first time in years, according to new figures, with prices and rents expected to climb. But for some of Tokyo’s residents, rising costs will only spell bad news, as the crowded city’s conditions sees workers squashed into “coffin” apartments at a cost of £400 a month.
The cramped rooms located in the capital’s Shibuya district are closer to cupboards than anything resembling a house. Called “Geki-sema”, they have no windows, no space for more than one person and barely enough room to stretch one’s legs.
The cubicles are stacked on top of each other with room for a resident and “a few of their possessions”, a Japanese news outlet reported last week. The program revealed the flats were barely 8ft long and designed for young professionals who spend most of their time outdoors or at work.
The closets still command a high rent, though, as landlords cash in on Tokyo’s overcrowded housing crisis.
But it is not just Tokyo where small spaces command high premiums: Hong Kong has a similar proposition for those low on the housing ladder. Even in one of the world’s richest cities, a hotspot for wealthy real estate investors, the poor are crammed into tiny apartments to survive.
The miniscule spaces provide residents with a kitchen, living room, dining room and bedroom – all within a room that measures just 4ft by 7ft, “barely bigger than a toilet cubicle”, as MailOnline puts it.
The horrible conditions in the city’s urban slums have been highlighted by the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO), who took a series of birds-eye images to document the severity of the problem.
Like Tokyo, Hong Kong is a crowded city, with a land mass of 1,104sq km and a population of 7 million. As the waiting list for public housing is so long, many have no choice but to squeeze their lives into these tiny spaces like battery hens.
Families of four are left sharing a double bed, lining the walls with their food, toiletries and other bare necessities. And with rent at around £8 per square foot per month, they pay roughly £224 per month for the privilege.
SoCO’s group director Ho Hei Wah told MailOnline: “Hong Kong is regarded as one of the richest cities in the world. However, lurking beneath this prosperity is great inequality in wealth and a forgotten group of poor people.
“Hundreds of thousands still live in caged homes and wood-partitioned cubicles, while the unemployed, new-arrived families from China and children in poverty struggle for survival. SoCO’s underprivileged clients are increasing in numbers – while the city’s wealth continues to accumulate.”