Little Boxes

What does it look like, if you want to stack people?

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I look more closely. Well, … there is a light, …

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… but it does not look cheerful.

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I would like to have a look inside. At the entrance a variety of signs hail me, some printed, some written by hand, some in a peculiar form of English, that basically say the same: Get lost, if you do not work in this building. Cameras appear to be especially unwelcome. There is a guard, just in case …

The more common way to stack people in Tokyo looks like this …

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… or on a smaller scale:

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The concept also applies to private homes …

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… and makes cars look really big.

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Many windows are opaque, shuttered or blocked by drying laundry. There seems to be a need to shield the little private space there is from the outside world.

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I stop in Osaka for the night. Time to experience a capsule hotel. I have to sign a form with the house rules on it. There is a penalty on taking any luggage into the capsule. I have to store it in a locker. When I open the locker I find a pyjama. I get it: I am supposed to wear it during my stay. My clothes too go into the locker.

I join the uniformed guests. Different shades of ocher dominate the interior. I feel trapped.

There is a cafeteria, a big library that consists exclusively of mangas, a large washroom and several rows of comfortable deck chairs that face a wall of TV screens, all showing different programs with the sound turned off, all this under the ever watching eyes of a multitude of surveillance cameras. I do not linger and go straight to the capsule.

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I climb in, …

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… look out …

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… and happily leave in the really early morning light.

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