Koe finds the perfect space in which to find her creative voice.

There’s no other apartment building quite like Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, and you’d be right in assuming a complex that unusual has some equally unique residents. A while back we spent the day with a man who’s renting one of the building’s “pink rooms,” and today we’re visiting another space inside the collection of cubes.

Well, in spirit we’re actually visiting three rooms, since Koe, as she’s called, is currently renting her third capsules inside Nakagin, even though she didn’t even know what the building, which was built in 1972, was until just a few years ago.

Koe was born in Hiroshima in 1979 and spent her childhood there before moving to Osaka for art school and her first post-graduation jobs, but on a trip to Tokyo in 2001, she drove past Nakagin on the freeway. She thought it looked really cool, but she wouldn’t know the name of the building until she saw a recreation at Legoland Japan in Nagoya in 2018.

▼ The blocky apartment building lends itself especially well to the Lego block medium.

With her interest rekindled, she did some online searching and found out that you could actually live inside the place, and she immediately started the process to buy one of the units. Unfortunately, before she could finalize the deal the owners announced that they were suspending sales due to their decision to tear down the building rather than try to renovate the age-deteriorated apartments.

However, interested parties could still rent units, and Koe was very interested, so she began renting her first capsule in February of 2019. Since Koe has a young daughter, the apartment wasn’t big enough to be their full-time home, and it became more of a relaxation lounge for them to play and read books in, though they would occasionally spend the night there too.

Three months later, Koe started renting her second capsule, which had no furnishings or closets. This became a place for her and her friends to eat, drink, and hang out, but unfortunately the leaky ceiling put a damper on the fun.

Finally, in October of 2019, Koe got her third Nakagin capsule, and this is the one that she’s made into a very special studio.

Like we mentioned, Koe is an art school graduate, and after she finished her education one of her first jobs was working for Mandarake, the legendary chain that specializes in second-hand merch for every sub-genre of the otaku world. She also started doing some professional cosplay, and she’s since added DJing to her skill set.

Again, Nakagin’s rooms aren’t the roomiest, but with a little rearranging when necessary, Koe has enough space for her turntable and growing collection of vinyl records. As you can probably guess, her primary focus is on anime and tokusatsu theme songs, and yes, she does cosplay while DJing.

Since she occasionally streams from her capsule, she’s got plenty of otaku-oriented memorabilia on display, including not only a life-size statue of Evangelion’s Rei Ayanami but also general sci-fi stuff like aliens that may or may not be awaiting an autopsy.

▼ The alien’s name is Manabu, she tells us.

Those with a deep appreciation for rubber suit monster movies will notice a place of honor for a poster of Matango (マタンゴ), Toho’s 1963 mushroom horror film.

One of Nakagin’s apartments’ most distinguishing features is their round porthole-like windows, and Koe has fancied hers up with all sorts of stickers.

▼ Koe’s manga-style self-portrait

With the building slated for demolition, Nakagin’s plumbing is no longer working at full capacity, which means the in-apartment showers are unusable. For people like Koe, though, this gives them yet another space in which to show off their visual creativeness.

If you’re wondering what that ominous lumpy thing on the wall is, it’s part of Koe’s Matango cosplay outfit, and she was kind/cruel enough to show the whole thing to our reporter, and fellow Nakagin resident, Chie Nomura.

Koe is in the process of producing a series of photo art books about Nakagin Capsule Tower, the latest of which is available here, and she’s even made a Nakagin sweater.

The studio has no bed, so Koe doesn’t live in her Nakagin capsule full-time. With her unabashed passion for the place, though, it goes without saying that she’s pretty torn up about the plans to tear the place down next year, telling us:

“I’m so sad. I just can’t imagine this place no longer existing. But even when Nakagin Capsule Tower itself is gone, if some of its capsules are removed and installed in other places, as a capsule fan, I want to keep following their continuing lives with a new metabolism.”

We’re honestly not sure what exactly all that means, but if anyone can do it, we’re sure it’s Koe.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]