The so-called “Daughters of the Lunar Space Ark” have seen it all.

The iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower apartment buildings designed by Kisho Kurokawa may have been demolished in October earlier this year, but to its last residents, its memory will live on fondly.

Our Japanese-language reporter Chie Nomura was lucky enough to be one of its last residents for not one, not two, but seven whole months. There she formed a bond with other residents, who came to be collectively known as the Daughters of the Lunar Space Ark.

▼ Why? We’re not quite sure. Maybe because the building looks like a spaceship?

Against all the odds, they were lucky enough to win the last available spots in the Nakagin monthly resident lottery. This monthly resident lottery only had around 200 applicants when it first started in 2018, but by late 2021, those odds had increased tenfold.

▼ And so, these lucky ladies were chosen in the lottery’s 30th cycle.

But just who were these ladies? Chie would like to introduce you to the people she spent the most time with in Nakagin Capsule, as well as their role in the group.

Okamo-san: the Reliable and Productive One

A web director from Hiroshima Prefecture, Okamo-san was the one everyone relied on time and time again. She admires the Spanish architect Anthony Gaudi and studied Spanish. She also likes attending music festivals and running. She’s super reliable and productive.

Okamo-san likes working in compact spaces like campers, which is why she wanted to try out the capsule life and make it as homey as possible.

Her capsule was no stranger to rain leaks through her window. Even though it soaked her bed that was right up against the window, she wouldn’t move it.

When there was a huge downpour in July 2021 that caused flooding in many of the rooms, she thought nothing of the damage in her room, instead filming the flooding in other rooms.

“I didn’t think my time here would be stretched to seven months,” Okamo-san commented. “It was a really meaningful experience. We blew bubbles on the rooftop, drank fruit punch…”

“I thought I wouldn’t get to enjoy the Ginza area due to the pandemic, but from spending time other residents here to becoming a recognized regular at the local bathhouse, I had a lot of fun. I’ll even miss the weird sound my toilet made every time it flushed.

▼ That is a little weird, yeah.

Fukui-san: the Food Writer Who Ran Our Chill Cafeteria

Nakagin Capsule Tower had no kitchens and didn’t allow any devices that produced flames, but the resident who made homecooked meals for us time and time again was Fukui-san, the self-proclaimed foodie. That’s probably why she’s a writer that reviews food and drinks!

Fukui-san lived in a capsule that was renovated rather than kept in its original form. She was able to open her window, and everyone was jealous that she was able to ventilate her room.

Residents called her room “Fukui-tei”, with “tei” being a common suffix for a restaurant name, since she cooked up all sorts of things for us in her electric hot pot and griddle like curry, gyoza, and takoyaki. She was the one who enriched the capsule living experience. She also loved drinking and ended up being one of Chie’s closest drinking buddies.

▼ Everyone could use a Fukui-tei in their life.

▼ She even made a takoyaki Nakagin Capsule Tower!

Fukui-san commented, “I’d planned to enjoy the solitude of living in Nakagin Capsule Tower by myself, but things turned out quite differently for the better. It gave me a sense of fulfillment. I think part of me continued living here so long because it was so refreshing to live so closely among other residents. I never had a vivacious, life-changing ‘seishun’ experience, so I think this was it for me.”

Watachi-chan: the Forceful Daughter Who Loves Aibo

Watachi-chan, who works in the media industry, lived in two different capsules with her robot dog Aibo. Her first capsule was the Muji collaboration one, but she left due to the noise the residential mice were making. She moved capsules when the monthly rental plan was extended, but unfortunately, there were issues fixing the toilet in her new capsule that caused the whole place to flood.

▼ “Yikes” is all we can say.

▼ The room was pretty cute when it wasn’t flooded, though!

Watachi’s mother was a fan of architecture and fine arts, including the Nakagin Capsule Tower, and she was actually the one who applied. But when she ended up winning the monthly lottery, she changed her mind about the idea of living there. Watachi’s workplace was nearby, though, so she decided to take her mother’s place.

A force of nature, Watachi always had the residents on their toes and was constantly planning some event or another. It was thanks to her that the residents were able to rent out all of Juujou-yu, a bathhouse and sauna in Tokyo. She was also Chie’s partner in crime for her plans that constantly lost them the trust of the owner of Nakagin, Maeda-san.

Watachi commented, “I know my way around Ginza since I came here with my mother often, visiting places like Ginza West and museums. It felt like home to live here. My top memory will always be the flooding incident!”

Imari-chan: the Craftswoman and Diehard Architect Fan

Imari-chan works in the building services department at an architect firm. She helped out a lot when restoring the building’s famous pink capsule. She was a creator more than a builder and created many things during her time there.

Her most famous work is her window cross stich project. She made a canvas the size of her capsule’s round window and spent two months cross stitching the Nakagin Capsule Towers. That’s impressive in and of itself, but the most impressive part is she had no previous experience with cross stitching!

▼ She also made awesome keychains for the residents.

▼ She even projected things on her round window.

Imari-chan hated cockroaches almost as much as Chie. One night, Imari-chan spotted a cockroach and sent out an SOS to the other residents. A couple responded right away, but the cockroach disappeared. They stayed up all night chatting, waiting for the beast to reemerge.

She eventually said she’d just stay in a hotel, but Watachi-chan offered to let her stay in her capsule. It felt like a school trip, almost. Chie was jealous she wasn’t there that night.

Imari-chan commented, “Time passed so quickly, but it was a rich time. My creativity was reawakened. I don’t care what people think of what I make anymore–I’m just going to make it, and whoever supports me will support me. It’s like I’m in elementary school again. I think the spark for that creativity was all around Nakagin Capsule Tower in its design. I realized how much I love architecture all over again.”

Sachiko: the Final Boss

The final resident Chie wanted to introduce is someone the residents nicknamed “the final boss”. She was given the nickname by singer Sachiko Kobayashi. She always went above and beyond, never leaving us bored. Chie was no match for her, making Sachiko seem like a true final boss.

Sachiko is a housewife in Tokyo and mother to two children. She used to work in architecture and liked the Nakagin Capsule Tower, so she gave the lottery a shot. She thought the “You won the lottery!” email was a scam, to be honest.

She visited often during lunchtime for a mental refresh and stayed in the capsule with her kids on the weekends. Sachiko was another resident who moved to another capsule partway through the experience because she wanted to see what the others were like.

Sachiko commented, “Since we couldn’t go out much due to the pandemic, it was fun to camp out on the weekends here with my children. It feels like I have two families: my one at home and one with the residents. If there were two of me, I would have been able to enjoy life here so much more!”

Daughters of the Lunar Space Ark

Everyone in the Space Ark applied for this opportunity because it was the last chance. They miraculously won the lottery, paid rent that was not very cheap month after month, and gathered in someone’s capsule every week for a group meal.

When someone went on a snack run, they’d ask if someone wanted something in the LINE group chat. They bumped into each other to and from the local bathhouse. When they wanted solitude, they retreated into their own capsule. It was like a dorm, truly. If it weren’t for each other, they probably wouldn’t have stayed the full seven months.

The Daughters of the Lunar Space Ark will live on in the form of Twitter, where they Tweet about their experiences in the capsules, and other interests such as architecture. Even if they never get to gather in this way again, their bonds will last forever. They were truly the key to making the last Monthly Membership experience in the Nakagin Capsule Towers worthwhile.

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