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A line of around 30 people queueing for snacks snakes around the inside of Izakaya Bunka, a Japanese-style pub, during its packed opening night on Dec. 14. Staffers at the Asakusa Ward spot have laid out an impressive buffet-style spread for all in attendance, set in front of a stack of nihonshu (Japanese sake) bottles that the venue’s general manager jokingly called “Mount Fuji” in a speech minutes before. Cameramen representing TV morning shows record all of this, while a woman standing at the back urges attendees to take a photo and post it to Instagram. “You’ll get one more free drink,” she says encouragingly to visitors.

The reason for this promotional revelry, however, is not the izakaya — it is for the floors of lodgings above it. Featuring around 20 bunk-like beds — each made out of plain wood and slightly bigger than a typical pod in a capsule hotel — the sight of the first floor makes one visitor exclaim that the space looks like a puzzle. Masako Ueda, working as the evening’s PR point person, uses the word “functional” frequently as she describes the layout of this new seven-story, 128-bed hostel.

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