I like compressed space. As in waking in a plastic shell, stacked; the sound of muffled snores from down the corridor. The only division between you and the world outside is a roll-down screen with draw string. So comfortable and yet so limited in availability. As far as I know, it is only Tokyo where such an experiment has been successful. The very nature of late night work and curtailed transit lines has propagated the rise of capsule nights. Affordable, convenient stays for the business commuter when the trip home becomes nearly impossible.. at least on an economic scale.

My nights at the capsule hotel in the outskirts of Tokyo came as a surprise. I made reservations online for what I thought was a traditional budget hotel room. To my surprise and disapproval at first was the capsule lodge. I tried explaining in my simplified English to the guest staff that I had reserved a "room". There was no room at this hotel and if I was to stay I would have to make do with my new experience in overnight compaction. The seemingly inconvenience of having to take an elevator two floors up to catch a shower and find a toilet felt odd. We are far too comfortable with an unobstructed way of life in the west-especially in the US. Any detour from the expected is often met with indignation. I resolved myself to at least a nights stay. I had to give it a chance and the price compared to an average Tokyo hotel was more than enough to persuade me.

An overnight stay begins in a locker crowded changing room and the disrobing and stowing of ones bags/ belongings. Overnight guests change into Kimonos and then choose between going to a sleeping floor or the bathing floor. As in most east Asian experiences the procession through the building is up through stacked floor plates. The men's and women's floors split between the two respective sleeping area's as well as two separate bathing floors. The only co-ed floor was the lobby cafe where men and women appeared to eagerly commingle.

Sleeping Capsules are like hotel rooms (minus 200sf and a bathroom) and when it comes down to essentials it's only the bed you need. The sleeping only space of shiny white molded plastic contained everything for a comfortable nights stay. Stereo, air-flow controls, a mini-TV and clock, all built into an extended armature on one wall. This small projection doubled as a night stand for bed time drinks or reading materials. It was the most spatially efficient of 'rooms'.


Eyes to the City

Revelation of being the double constituent; feeding imagination and perception from inside and out. Curiosity nourished through interrupted acts, scenes and translations. Nothing more animates the space of the city. A facade can never be the same twice on any given night; faces always changing. It is life and death after all, that ultimately become exposed through the window.


Time is amplified by the intersection pause.

Everything else is purely motion.

My commutes are measured by intersections. A pause, a glance, and proceeding steps...accelerated. Motion is life; to pause would be fatal. Morning and evening experiences are rarely the same twice. There is always a factor to obscure or alter what was present on the street the day before. Sun, precipitation, sounds, smells, amplified by the direct sensational connection that binds us to the environment. Immediate choices limited only by the tendency to repeat the familiar. Routine habits can shape and dictate what often becomes our limited experiential path.

I have commuted by foot for the better part of the past decade. The streets and sidewalks of diverse cities have been my trade routes. Denver, San Francisco and Seoul have all played backdrop to my daily pedestrian experiences. It is a choice really, that more could make but time is always a factor. In San Francisco I currently walk just over two miles each way to and from my office. Most wouldn't think of doing it, although personally I have come to rely on it as the most meditative moments of my day.

The streets exist as infinite options. Any number of directions prompt rediscovery of what was once forgotten; that hidden place in memory of experiences past. I seek that rediscovery daily, tempted by trails of sunlight that stream through parted buildings and walls that shield from driving rain. The city protects from and exposes me to the environment, lifting its form to reveal a desirable crease; passage.

I enter places yet undiscovered and am satisfied by space worth longing for. There is so much to uncover walking.

Forever Night (on leaving Seoul)

Whisked away with blurring Light
burned in concience
A rare river glimpse with underground thoughts trailing

...will wait for the next time
new faces, searching faces, different eyes.
Seoul, Tokyo....
and the night goes on.