In ultra-dense megalopolises like New York and Hong Kong, steep rental rates mean paying way more for less. Tokyo is another example of how far it can get; in an attempt to save money but still live in the heart of the city, some young people are choosing to pay hundreds of dollars per month for a tiny, box-sized room.
According to Kotaku, a Japanese news program recently reported on one of Shibuya district's "share houses" (or "geki-sema" in Japanese) where residents were paying up to ¥55,000 (US $586) to live in stacked, "coffin-like rooms" -- suitable only if you use them for sleeping. Though heat and electricity are included, bathrooms are still shared and some of the units (if you can call them that) don't even have a window.
The news crew interviewed a 24 year-old entrepreneur and 19-year-old aspiring actress, both of whom lived in spaces that measured less than two tatami mats (the famous tatami mat being a modular reference to measuring floor area, coming in at approximately 1.5 square meters or 16 square feet in Tokyo). It's comparable to these 16 square foot "apartments" in Hong Kong, and it's pretty damn small, with space only for a bed roll, clothes and a small TV.
Apparently, some local commenters believe that the renters here are being cheated, saying:
If you look, you can find a two bedroom apartment for ¥55,000 a month. These people are being deceived.
This is a locker room. I thought it was going to be ¥2,000, but it ended up being ¥45,000.
It's hard to tell whether these people are really saving their money or being fleeced -- but in any case, this is just way too small. More over at Kotaku.