share shibuya creative MOV

With the cost of property in Tokyo so high, and an estimated 6,000 people squeezed into every square kilometre of the city, more and more urbanites are starting to think small. As well as choosing tiny houses that provide everything required for living but with none of the clutter, people are learning that life is far easier if, rather than yearning for their own private spaces and a multitude of possessions, they learn to share.

Following in the footsteps of movements such as last winter’s Warm Share, which offered incentives to members of the public who frequented designated–heated–public areas instead of sitting at home with their air-con cranked up, a number of “share spaces” are cropping up all over Tokyo, inviting both business people and freelance workers to use their facilities rather than staying in an office or cooped up at home.

So throw your laptop in your bag and come with us as we take a quick look at eight of Tokyo’s trendiest shared places to work.

Offering a wide variety of workspaces and the facilities you’d find in most modern offices but with a cooler, comfier vibe, share spaces are a sign of things to come in urban Japan. With high-speed internet access practically everywhere, ultra-portable computers, and data always obtainable from the cloud, many jobs can be done without the need for a dedicated office. But when team members need to get together, or when individuals simply need a place to work other than their own home, where can we turn?

Enter share spaces.

  • 1. The Terminal Harajuku

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It might look a little bit like an Internet cafe, but you won’t find anyone playing WoW here. For 380 yen (US$3.80) per hour or 1,000 yen ($10.15) for three, freelancers at The Terminal can enjoy the facilities of a typical office without needing to suit up or clock in. Those with a lot of work to get through can pay 2,000 yen and remain glued to their computer for the entire day, while business types can rent private meeting rooms for 5,000 yen per hour.

Other facilities on offer include: space for giving presentations, copy machine access, access to additional power outlets, space for relaxing and reading, drink service, a roof garden for smokers, and of course wireless internet access.

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▼ A cute and cosy presentation room, complete with projector.

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Images: The Terminal

  • 2. Portal Point Kita Aoyama

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Situated between trendy Omotesando and Gaienmae Station, “Transit Sharestyle Office” Portal Point is a sophisticated blend of a hotel, business centre, and cafe. One of the most extravagant of Tokyo’s newest share spaces, a hotel-style concierge service is available at reception, with staff on hand to direct groups or freelancers to the area best suited to their needs and handle future bookings.

With a dedicated conference room, long, well-lit tables for team-based tasks, personal booths for those who prefer cubicle-style office spaces, and even low chairs with coffee tables for those caffeine-fuelled tete-a-tetes, there’s something here for everyone. Beware, though, these facilities won’t come cheap; prices range from 52,000 yen (US$527) per month for personal-use desks with standard office equipment, to 399,000 yen ($4,000) for offices suitable for small businesses.

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Photos: Portal Point

  • 3. Academy Hills Roppongi

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Another marvellously trendy and expensive workspace is Academy Hills, which can be found on the 49th floor of Roppongi Hills‘ iconic Mori Tower and aims to bring together “space, books, and opportunity.” Private study/work spaces can be rented for just 10,000 yen ($100) per month, with creatives and businesspeople alike given full access to an enormous library, desk and meetings spaces, and of course those absolutely stunning views of the surrounding city to take in while getting creative. You’ll need to be a ‘community member’ to gain entry to the facilities, but then if you’re hanging around one of Tokyo’s poshest areas, chances are you already are!

Photo: Academy Hills

  • 4. Public Libraries Various locations

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Chiyoda Library

Proof that share spaces aren’t just for those with deep pockets, a number of Tokyo’s public libraries are dedicating more and more space to those who wish to work or study away from the office or home. Chiyoda Ward Public Library (above), for example, invites residents to consider their newly furbished libraries as “second office” environments, encouraging them to get out of the house and make the most of the facilities that their taxes paid for in the first place. For those who prefer absolute silence or need to brainstorm with team members without disturbing those around them, there are also reasonably priced rentable office spaces that are even suitable for giving small presentations.

You might not find quite the array of facilities that many of Tokyo’s privately-owned share spaces boast, but with wireless internet access, plentiful desk space, a cafe and more books and journals than you can shake a stick at, public libraries like Chiyoda’s should definitely not be overlooked.

  • 5. Kurkku Home Shibuya

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Less of a second office and more of a multipurpose venue, Kurkku Home opened its doors in May this year, providing everything from individual desk and conference spaces to a 195-square-metre event space that can be rented and used for group presentations, live music sessions and even art exhibitions.

And is it just us or would this place also make an incredible party venue?

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Photos: Kurkku Home

  • 6. Creative Lounge MOV Shibuya

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Soft sofas, armchairs and expensive-looking bicycles brought indoors, Creative Lounge MOV is something of a trendster’s dream. Boasting nine uniquely decorated meeting rooms costing between 6,000-16,000 yen ($60-162) per session, a spacious, comfortable lounge with rows of private booths, and a “residents’ area” which is made up of small rooms designed for individuals or pairs to use on a daily basis, MOV can be forgiven for looking a little like a hangout for the those who refuse to ride anything other than fixies and only listen to bands that no one else has heard of.

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▼ For that little bit of extra privacy.

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▼ Residents’ rooms.

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Photos: Creative Lounge MOV

  • 7. Co-ba Shibuya

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Also in lively Shibuya, “co-working space and shared library” Co-Ba opened its doors back in 2011 and has been a big hit ever since. With most facilities available 24 hours a day and prices as low as 20,000 yen ($202) for a month of unlimited use, Co-Ba offers a simple yet lively workspace to enjoy. As well as bench space with multiple power points for your computer or smart phone, private desks and presentation/event rooms are also available.

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▼ We love these funky desk designs.

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▼ A group presentation in full swing.

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Photos: Co-ba

  • 8. Mina no Shigotoba Akasaka

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Literally meaning “everyone’s workspace”, Mina no Shigotoba is run by the Hatch group, which aims to make life easier for freelancers and those who have children and cannot make it in to the office regularly. As well as having rental spaces and a comfy, softly-lit room designed to help the free flow of ideas, Mina no Shigotoba’s shared office space overlooks a dedicated kids’ playroom room so that parents can keep an eye on their little ones while getting their work done. Those interested in becoming a member of this wonderfully forward-thinking group should visit their web page, which even comes with a smattering of English-language instructions about how to join up.

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▼ Space to talk.

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▼ Business at the front, party at the back.

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Photos: Hatch Cowork

Shared workspaces may not be ideal for everyone, and there will always be those who simply don’t have the luxury of being able to pack their day’s work into a backpack or rent a space for themselves, but as our societies grow and evolve, it’s exciting to see how our working lives, and attitudes towards them, are changing along with them. We can’t help wondering whether, 20 years from now, offices as we know them today will be a thing of the past…

Reference: Naver Matome (Japanese)