These photos are why I’m trapped in Tokyo forever now

by Nina Geometrieva and Damjan Cvetkov-Dimitrov

Read in: 日本語 | Polski | ItalianoEspañol

Tokyo, holy excrements from small undefined creatures! We’re there. First place we had on our list was Nakagin Tower.

Spending two whole days there, we finally learned the dread and discomfort of living in a capsule hotel. It was wonderful, apart from the occasional shakeup and earthquake panic you’d feel when your neighbour decides to move his capsule four floors up, at 5 AM. He was courteous enough to leave a box of chocolate with an apology to his neighbouring capsules.

Nakagin Tower is one of those rather rare examples of buildings where the exterior matches the interior perfectly. The compact minimalism you can observe from outside, permeates into the rooms and hallways creating a much fuller, more impactful experience. The sounds that the windows made when you adjusted them utterly surpassed any horrific sound in existence. Those blades had to be oiled often but tenants sometimes decided against that.


Nina was exactly where she was born to be, and so was that fuzzy sweater, that returned along with her. It was a very thoughtful gift, given 13 years ago to my grandmother, by a Japanese friend of hers. Now they were both home. I couldn’t unstick her face away from that window, I couldn’t blame her either.


I simply couldn’t stop playing with the Nakagin Tower app on my iPhone. If you scheduled an automated move of the capsule and canceled it at the very last minute, you wouldn’t get charged, and it would cause the entire capsule to shake. I only pranked Nina once with that. Never again. You don’t play around with stuff that feel like earthquakes in Tokyo. Too evil supposedly.


What sets Tokyo and Japan apart from the rest of the world was of course the attention to detail and detail within detail. Even the greasiest, darkest and most marginal street corners were impeccably clean. Not always the tidiest things but they worked and everything served it’s own purpose. Stepping into the right street corner, you could see where Motoko Kusanagi, from the anime Ghost in the Shell, ran through, chasing another cyberized perpetrator.


The Tokyo World Trade Center, or The Monolith as we called it, reflected a nearby fighter jet formation. You would only feel their presence in the warm wind that hugs your face as their fly-by was infinitely quiet. Undisturbing my prayers to the great technological gods.


It might look chaotic from here, as if someone spilled an entire bag of buildings all over the place. Although when you zoom in, you begin to notice its perfectly maintained structures and their distinct smell, not unlike those of fresh electronics. Monorails going through buildings, coming out of skyscrapers and into the ground. Hadn’t there been so many people using them, I would’ve thought they were there simply for my own entertainment.


Even at the dead of night, the city was alive. Almost 40 million people living in such a small area with such discipline and ingenuity, it can only be Tokyo. Drones would mostly fly around during the night and deliver products to people’s doorsteps and balconies without disturbing anyone. Some people would wait outside their balcony for their deliveries, we opted for the good old fashioned walk-to-store kind of delivery.


We were told by the people at reception that the building on the left uses some advanced materials to make the ground in-between the floors incredibly thin, while also strong enough to withstand the rigours of Tokyo living. The building on the right would shift its exterior as necessary. We didn’t really check but I think it had to do with internal cubicle reorganisation.


Don’t let this one fool you. These were massive cubicles with all the amenities required for comfortable living. It deceivingly looks like a capsule, it’s cubes moved like capsules too.

Unfortunately, unlike the Nakagin Tower, you could only extend these forward for a better view. The building was absolutely astonishingly beautiful so we weren’t too disappointed by the rooms’ inflexibility.


How could this perfectly maintained building be anything other than a perfect white sphere manufacturing center? I am utterly convinced that its sole purpose is to corner the market of perfect white spheres and nobody, not even the entrance guards, could convince me otherwise.


The biggest city in the world and they still manage to make the car exhaust smell better than the peaks of the Alps. From its outskirts, it seems as if it was painted with buildings and rising up indefinitely. The hilly terrain made smaller buildings rise up above taller ones and it just kept going in gentle sine waves towards infinity.

Standing there, entranced by the view and slightly drooling at the magnitude of it all, I clenched my heart and gave my best effort at believing Tokyo never truly ends, even now that I am gone.