Nakagin Capsule Tower: Stay at a peculiar tower in Ginza?

Nakagin Capsule Tower is a residential and office tower designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa in Ginza (Shimbashi side). It was built in just 30 days in a new concept stitching together the individual capsules in 1972.

Stories about the Nakagin tower have popped up around the internet now and then about demolition of the place, the absence of hot water or that the waiting list to rent one of the capsules is very long.

However, a revitalisation project is now turning things around. Weekly group visits in Japanese and English are on offer and the capsules are available for a one-month stay.

Is it worth visiting?

The building is located next to an elevated expressway, which means it is pretty difficult to look at from the other side of the street. The only good view you get of the building is when you walk from the Hama-rikyu gardens.

While it is definitely an interesting building to look at, I feel that there are many other marvels of modern architecture in Tokyo as well. New buildings with cool designs pop-up in the capital every month so to speak.

View from the other side of the street with the expressway

You cannot visit the building by yourself, but group tours are organised during the weekend in Japanese (Saturday and/or Sunday) and on Thursday in English. Please note that they ask you not to make photographs or film during the visit. More information is available on the website of the project in Japanese.

The architect who designed this building is Kisho Kurokawa (1934-2007), a leading Japanese architect and one of the founders of the Metabolist Movement. He is a renowned architect responsible for many landmark buildings around the world such as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the Saint Petersburg Stadium. In Tokyo it is worth visiting The National Art Center in Roppongi.

Is it worth staying?

Mujirushi, famous Japanese retail company, has teamed up with the revitalisation project to create pretty cosy capsules. They are for rent for a one-month stay, starting on the 22nd of each month.

The main benefit of staying here is that it is rather cheap for a short term apartment (JPY 120,000 all inclusive) with regards to the location close to the Ginza area and Shimbashi Station. However, keep in mind that the bathroom/shower is a shared facility.

It seems there are some misconceptions regarding the usage of the “capsule” terminology. To be clear, this capsule tower has nothing to do with the popular capsule hotels where you lie in basically a big coffin. The capsule tower is composed of little units in which you can live and work, not just sleep. Still, it is pretty small.

Size comparison:

  • Capsule tower: 4 meter x 2.5 meter, and you can stand up.
  • Capsule hotel: 2 meter x 1 meter, and you cannot stand up (typically 1 meter in height).

In practice

Address: 8-16-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Tours JPY 3,000 (Japanese), JPY 4,000 (English)
Rent for one month: JPY 120,000

Nearest Station:
Shiodome Station – 7 minutes walk (Toei Oedo Line, Yurikamome Line)
Tsukijisijo Station – 7 minutes walk (Toei Oedo Line)
Shimbashi Station – 9 minutes walk (Yamanote line, Ginza line, Toei Asakusa line, Yurikamome Line, Tōkaidō Main Line, Yokosuka Line, Keihin-Tōhoku Line)

Website: (in Japanese)
Weekly tour: (in Japanese)
Monthly stay plan: (in Japanese)

Name in Japanese: 中銀カプセルタワービル