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Monday, October 25, 2010

In Japan, the Macrohouse Is in the Microhouse

 Capsule hotel accommodations in Osaka
When it comes to things Japanese, the notion of small is beautiful is an understatement. The macrocosm is in the microcosm better describes the situation, especially in Japan’s limperific deflationary times. A recent New York Times feature,  Japan Goes from Dynamic to Disheartened: The Great Deflation, chronicles a phenomenon in Japanese urban real estate, the microhouse. It’s an inspired first cousin once removed from Japan’s capsule hotels. (room service depicted above)

In big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s land that’s through the roof, so many aspiring younger Japanese buy breadbox- or perhaps bento box- size parcels and build heavenward. The Times elucidates:

These matchbox-size homes stand on plots of land barely large enough to park a sport utility vehicle, yet have three stories of closet-size bedrooms, suitcase-size closets and a tiny kitchen that properly belongs on a submarine.

The Times continues:

This is how to own a house even when you are uneasy about the future, observes a general manager at Zaus, a builder of microhouses in Tokyo. [Felicitously, the general manager’s surname is Kondo.—W&P]

Take the Tour. Next on the agenda is a video tour of a Japanese microhouse. Note the customary exaggerated, inflated tone of the TV narrator. Perhaps a personal whiff of market deflation will land her in such lodgings. Stay tuned for more deflation, more Japanese-style insularity.

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Peter Chartrand said...

What's all the fuss? It's essentially a vertical apartment, larger than some studios and with an atrium and garden.

Wig & Pen said...

Wig & Pen replies:

It does look cool (even worthy of the affluent) unless--like many--you deeply value horizontality. But by and large, it's mostly about price. The price ratio ratio of land to buildings is much greater in Japanese cities than in the U.S. So why not build on a postage stamp? And the tax savings may also buy some sticky philatelics. LW