Japan’s Coffin Houses

I have been holding on to this one for a while, but check out these houses that are being dubbed “coffin houses” because of their small size.   At just over 8 feet long  and 4-5 five feet tall these “micro apartments” rent for as much as the equivalent of $600 US dollars a month!  None of them have windows in them and they all share a bathroom.

With rising population level and increased urban density we are beginning to see more and more of these type of housing solutions in places like Japan.  While personally I don’t think I could pull this off, they do provide some interesting ideas for organizing small spaces.

To combat a lack of affordable housing in the capital city of Tokyo, landlords have developed what are known as ‘geki-sema’ or share houses: tiny cabinets barely bigger than coffins that can only be used for sleep and the storage of a handful of possessions.







Your Turn!

  • Could you live in such a small space if it meant cheap rent and a great location?
  • How small is too small?



  1. These are too small except perhaps for people who would otherwise be homeless. I think not being able to stand up and having no window should be a deal breaker. Don’t they have building codes there? Personally, a cleverly organized 8x8x8′ space would be my lower limit, though that would be illegal by four fold in any US city.

  2. I couldn’t live there full time, but if I had a somewhere in the countryside or the suburbs to spend the weekends and just needed somewhere close to work to sleep, this could work. In college I rented a room quite a bit bigger than this, but rarely did anything but sleep in it.

  3. $600 is so expensive for the size, but I guess supply and demand is regulating the market. In the states I would consider such a living arrangement, but the price point would have to be $100. Thanks for sharing the post. Next time don’t hold out on us, I love Japan’s approach to living.

  4. I stayed in one of the airport “hotels”(7’x4′) in 1980; pretty funky. 😉

  5. OK for temporary shelter but long term housing should provide space to at least stand upright, possibly pace a bit. A non-mechanical source of fresh air would be essential to me as well, preferably a window to the outside world. I have no problems with sharing kitchens or bathrooms but basic bodily comfort in your individual private space should include being able to stretch and stand. Better than no shelter at all though.

  6. I think that is going to give me nightmares. But then, I’m highly claustrophobic, to the point that I would prefer a park bench to that. I have to see sky, or at least be able to see sky.

  7. Ridiculous. Humans were not meant to live this way. This is pathetic. Stop breeding, idiots.

    • Japan has got one of the lowest birth rates in the world.

    • Wait a minute–they’re just on a wee lil’ island, unlike we Americans, who
      are blessed with a huge continent…being a crabby insult-monger
      who hasn’t done any research is Not Helpful.

    • No toilet or sink….NO Carrie!!!!

  8. Wait a minute, Matthew–they’re just on a wee lil’ island, unlike we Americans, who
    are blessed with a huge continent…being a crabby insult-monger
    who hasn’t done any research is Not Helpful.

  9. If I absolutely had to live in such a tiny dwelling, I could. For me, the hardest part would be keeping both my “home” and myself clean. That will likely strike some folks as rather trivial but sorry…that’s just the way it is.

  10. Associated Press photographer Kin Cheung spent time recently photographing some of the tiny subdivided housing units in Hong Kong, known as coffin homes, and those who live in them. Cheung reports that there is a dark side to the property boom in wealthy Hong Kong, where hundreds of thousands of people priced out of the market must live in partitioned apartments, coffin homes and other inadequate housing. These residents are among an estimated 200,000 people in Hong Kong living in such tiny subdivided units, some so small that a person cannot even fully stretch out their legs.

  11. This isn’t due to overpopulation but the real estate market.

    There is enough space on this planet to comfortably house everyone, if some would accept a slightly lower standard of living so others could benefit. Instead, property ownership means that moguls own huge quantities of real estate capital, leaving a pittance for the poor and working class population. They wouldn’t need to subdivide that building into coffins if the single occupancy lofts next door were subdivided into affordable housing. Same old story: the purchasing power and entitlement of money is more important than how society is organized.

    $600/mo for one of these coffins is a total rip off too, not to mention. That’s one thing I never liked about living in Asia, was their predatory capitalism. You think it’s bad in North America? Try living there. Some people there would let you die in the desert of thirst rather than give you free water, and the laws there allow that kind of behavior.

  12. Looks cozy

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