This blog was formerly dedicated in 2009 to my Dad who died of Alzheimer's in 2013. It's been three years now...and I find myself missing blogging...so I am re-inventing my blog... because, after all, life is about moving through, and going forward...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Glorified cardboard boxes with amenities...only $640 per month!

I read an article in the paper today, profiling two men in Tokyo.  One was a former tuna fisherman and the other a student studying economics at a regional university. They stay in these capsule hotels which are 5 feet wide and 6.5 feet long. The capsules are stacked two high, have plastic walls, so it is quite possible for one to be jabbed by a neighbor's foot or elbow while sleeping.  No door, only a screen to pull down.  It has a coat hook to hang your clothes, but most belongings have to be stored in lockers.  A small TV with earphones is provided, as well as a light, thin blanket and a hard pillow of rice husks. Basically, a placed to crawl into and sleep.

Twenty years ago, Japan built these Capsule Hotels, to provide a place to sleep for salaried workers who missed the last train. The government  began to notice the change in people staying weeks and months at a time. Starting this year they began to charge 59,000 yen $640 per month for an upper bunk and got permission to allow the residents to live the hotel's address as their official home. Within the last two years, these type hotels are averaging 100 out of the 300capsules rented per month.

Sure beats a cardboard box outside in the cold...but how ingenious of Japan to come up with such a solution! The government provides fresh linens, lockers, a communal bath and sauna.  There is a cafeteria as a common area of the hotel where one can sit, watch TV, eat and visit with other guests.  There is no upfront charges or utilities. The article stated the hotel reeked of cigarette smoke, which can't be too healthy...

Relatively speaking, that is a really high price for box like container where one cannot even stand up!  I have always heard how expensive Japan was, but this is the topper!  I know here in Nevada, people can rent a three bedroom apartment for $800 to a $1000, in certain areas. I am sure that price is dirt cheap compared to what the rent must be in Tokyo.  Still, it is the capsule hotels are the last step, before living on the streets...

Japan is suffering the worst recession since World War II, with their jobless rate at 5.2 per cent. (California and Nevada are both 12.3 per cent.) This record high is in sharp contrast to the industrial power they have held since the 1970's.  The article said over 15,800 live on the streets, which they estimated as low, because of the hidden population that lives in these capsule hotels and sleep overnight in all the internet cafes.

I can't even imagine how frightening it would be to be homeless.  To not have a job or a home.  To be forced to sleep unprotected, out in the cold... especially back east where the homeless are literally freezing to death on the streets. It is a definite sign of these difficult times we are all in right now.  I just could not believe my eyes though, when I read the article...definitely ingenious...but still, a glorified cardboard box with amenities...only $640 a month....WOW!

4 comments:

Lily Robinson said...

I'm sure the people using them are glad to have them, but it seems to be a case of the haves taking advantage of the have-nots. I don't know anything about their cost-of-living though. Perhaps it's a real deal! Too bad the cardboard box people over here don't have the amenities...

Donna B said...

Hi Lily, I agree, it is times like these when the contrast between those who have and those who don't become more apparent! Again, cost of living is relative to where one lives. In a box, it is pretty low, but very high at the other end, because they can afford it. I don't usually get into political or religious topics, but this just hit me as an example of how bad the economy really is...

Donna said...

I just posted a comment on my face book last week. Stating that "I didn't think I would ever know someone who was homeless." My husbands son is homeless in Las Vegas and lives in a tunnel that was meant for a new sub-division sewer and dranage system. The economy went bad and the sub-division was never finished. Thus a place for a homeless person to stay in. There was a comment made back to me that we are all one house payment away from just that "being homeless." At least he has a tunnel instead of a box to live in and it is free. He even has a king size mattress that he found.

Donna B said...

Donna...I am so sad to hear of your step son living in a tunnel. I think that is so true we could all be a house payment away from being on the streets, because so many of us live pay check to pay check. It gets more and more difficult to have a savings. May God watch over him and keep him safe. Hopefully, he will find work soon.