Tiny Inn in Fussa brings taste of Portland’s tiny home trend to Japan
By ERICA EARL | Stars and Stripes | Published: March 11, 2021
After a trip to Portland in 2017, a businessman and artist in Japan felt inspired by the food carts and tiny home trends there and decided to bring a touch of the American Pacific Northwest back to bustling Tokyo.
“I want it to be a place where people from the United States or who have visited will experience that culture as much as possible,” said Ryuma Sato, creator and owner of the Tiny Inn.
Sato opened The Tiny Inn, a two-room retro-style trailer, in Fussa, last fall in hopes of attracting service members at nearby Yokota Air Base as well as Tokyoites looking to escape from the city while travel was limited due to the coronavirus.
Fussa, a small suburban area in western Tokyo, is quiet in comparison to the Japanese capital’s city center. Part of its tourist appeal is the American flavor the air base presence lends the shops and cafes along four-lane Route 16.
The Tiny Inn truly is tiny, built to accommodate a maximum of two people. I am only 5 feet, 2 inches tall and still managed to bump my head on the doorframe walking into the bedroom. Its minimalist design features a wooden deck, a semi-double bed and a bathroom with a toilet and shower.
Weekday stays cost 3,500 yen, or $33 per night, and weekend and holiday stays cost 15,000 yen, or $141, per night.
During high season, March through September, weekday stays cost 5,500 yen, or $51 per night and weekend and holiday stays cost 20,000 yen, or $188 per night.
Billed on its website as a “mobile hotel,” the Tiny Inn doesn’t actually move, but Sato said he hopes to eventually also have an Airstream or similar model on property that guests can rent and drive around to explore Japan’s natural beauty “in the style of the American road trip.”
Sato and his business partners spent four months building the trailer from parts he either found or bought secondhand.
The Tiny Inn is situated on a former storage lot right next to another one of Sato’s projects, Delta East, a food cart park that opened in 2019. Sato helped found Delta East as the creative director of the nonprofit organization Flag, which entrepreneurs develop their project ideas.
Delta East hosts a variety of food carts serving New York-style pizza, Vietnamese bahn mi, coffee, craft beer and more.
Sato said he has long been intrigued by American pop culture, being raised by a “hippie dad” who Sato said had long hair like John Lennon. He said envisions the park being a “hipster haven” for artists, military members and youth in the community to come together, eat and skate in the small, empty pool that serves as Delta East’s centerpiece.
“I want to see a bunch of cool, tattooed kids working here bringing local flavor from where they’re from,” Sato said.
Delta East was originally going to be a spot where people could rent vintage cars of different styles, but Sato figured food trucks would be a simpler business model and attract more people.
Sato said he hopes to continue to revamp both Delta East and the Tiny Inn by adding more food carts and attractions, but does not know when that will be because of the ongoing pandemic.
Directions: From Yokota Air Base’s main gate, turn right onto Route 16, then left at the Shorin-dori intersection. You will see Delta East with its food carts, banners and hanging lights on the right just before the railroad crossing. Limited parking is available. Google Plus code: P8XP+5M Fussa, Tokyo
Times: Open year-round
Costs: $33 per night weeknights and $141 per night weekends and holidays. March-September; $51 per night weeknights and $188 per night weekend and holidays
Food: Food carts just steps away feature pizza, Vietnamese bahn mi, chicken and rice dishes, coffee and craft beer.