Nakagin Capsule Tower
Photo: Kit KriewaldtNakagin Capsule Tower

Here’s how you can get inside the iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza

The architectural wonder of 1970s Tokyo offers building tours and even a month-long stay in a capsule apartment

By
Emma Steen
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On the edge of Ginza stands what looks like a precarious heap of run-down washing machines. The Nakagin Capsule Tower, comprising 140 individual capsules, was once a beacon of modern architecture, but is now a relic of 1970s Tokyo. The building is in need of costly repairs, and according to Asahi Shimbun could soon be sold, making its future uncertain. But for now, you still have a chance to see it from the inside and get a glimpse of what it’s like to live in a prime example of Japanese Metabolist architecture.

The building hasn’t had a hot water supply for years and each of the one-room capsules are only really large enough for a single person, yet Kisho Kurokawa’s iconic structure is still occupied by a handful of faithful residents. Though most use their capsules as offices rather than apartments, you can rent a capsule for one month – think of it as a 70s Airbnb. 

Every few months, the tower holds an online lottery, giving Tokyoites the chance to stay in a capsule room for a whole month. There are seven apartments available, including one that has been refurbished by Muji (it’s in the Instagram post above), though the room retains some of the building’s original shelves and retro fixtures. Rent is ¥120,000, though be aware that there is no internet connection or hot water in the building. 

To apply, send your name, address and contact information to the Nakagin Capsule Tower email address listed below as well as your reason for wanting to stay there. Selected applicants will have a key posted to their address. 

Nakagin Capsule Tower
Photo: Kit Kriewaldt

If you don’t want to commit to living in the building for a full month, you can sign up for a tour of the building instead. The next tours will be held in July, with only a few slots still up for grabs. Tours are ¥3,000 per person and take approximately 45 minutes. Most tours are in Japanese, with occasional English-language tours, too. See the venue’s official website for the full tour schedule and send an email to apply with your full name, contact information and up to three preferred tour time slots. 

To apply for the rental lottery or book a tour, email nakagincapsule@gmail.com

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