The capsule hotels of Japan are legendary. Just big enough for a bed, they’d make you feel like you’re sleeping in a coffin, if not for the sci-fi chic decor.
Tokyo’s low-cost backpacker hotels are even sparser. As photographed by Won Kim in the series Living Close, the rooms are nothing more than plywood boxes, fitted with a small mattress and a single light, and stuffed to the gills with backpackers’ odds and ends. Lots of sleeping bags, moisturizer, sodas, Beats headphones, and in one case, even a bottle of champagne.
What’s so captivating about the photos is how the spaces were photographed, not as impoverished holes in the wall, but as an intimate, even warm retreat for youthful tourists.
“The messier the room was, the cozier I felt,” Kim says of his trip. “I don’t necessarily direct [viewers] to feel a certain way [about my art], but I just hope they somewhat feel the sense of coziness from those tiny rooms instead of feeling stuffy.”
An earlier version of this article improperly referred to Kim as female.