We’ve all heard about Japan’s extraordinary ‘capsule hotels,’ but photographer Won Kim’s intimate photos give us a personal look at another set of tight living quarters – a hidden hotel in Tokyo that was designed as a guesthouse for backpackers.
Kim stumbled across the hotel when backpacking across Japan, and returned 2 years later to photograph it. He lived there for several months, befriending residents and photographing the small, womb-like spaces that they call home. The entire hotel is located on a single floor of an office building in north-east Tokyo. Some of the residents are short-term visitors while others, says kim, are essentially permanent residents.
“For me, the real interest of the resulting portraits is in how each resident has made use of a such a small, confining space,” Kim writes. “In each case, the sharply-defined space and its contents tell something about its occupant’s personality, and his or her ability to function in such a strange, enclosed environment.”