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One week down and out in a sleazy Shinjuku cyber cafe

10 Comments

Some girls want to break into the writing game so badly they're willing to take on some pretty grubby assignments. That's what the editor at Jitsuwa Bunka Taboo (February) had in mind when he assigned the 24-year-old woman, a Saitama native, to spend a week at a certain cyber cafe on Shokuan Dori, a street that borders on the notorious Kabukicho district of Shinjuku. 

Told that many customers at the establishment in question were women who worked in the sex industry, she was not especially pleased with the assignment. 

The outlay for a "24-hour course" at the cyber cafe that includes a semi-private booth is set at 2,640 yen (tax included). Overnight only is half that price, and securing the space for a full month lowers the cost further to 2,112 yen per day or 63,360 yen per month. 

The house rules permit coming and going and permission to bring in snacks and victuals from outside. 

In addition to unrestricted access to the internet, drinks are provided free of charge. A "shower kit" consisting of a towel, shampoo and so on can be obtained for 330 yen, and for the same price you can run a load of wash. 

The reporter's first day on the "job" was Monday, Nov 25. She took the elevator to the cyber cafe's 3rd floor reception to check in. The first thing that struck her was the almost overpowering odor of cigarette smoke. 

At least a nonsmoking booth was available, but it barely helped. The booth was the equivalent of about 1.5 tatami mats, space for her travel bag with just enough room left to lie down. In addition to a computer the nearby desk was equipped with an AC outlet for charging her smart phone and a box of tissues. 

"There were containers of room deodorizer set at points between the individual booths, but they weren't effective," she complained. "I wished I was home."  

Around 2 a.m., realizing that six more days remained before her departure, she wept. 

One thing she found amazing the first night was the variations in timbre and volume of snores emanating from the cubicles. The morning arrived without her sleeping so much as a wink. 

Unlike the leisurely soaks at her bath at home, she found herself in a shower where even the hot water emanating from the shower heads reeked of cigarettes. The hair dryer in the woman's toilet was on its last legs, and took three times what was normally required to dry her hair completely. 

Eventually she began to interact with the other patrons. Several men in their 40s and 50s appeared to be day laborers. But most customers by far were female, with many in their 30s and 40s. Few could come up with 63,360 yen to pay for a monthly stay, so most of them were obliged to pay out more, a day at a time. 

From observing the frequent comings and goings of one young woman at the cafe, the writer speculated she was employed by a "delivery health" (sex outcall service) and was calling on johns at nearby hotels. 

It was with a huge sigh of relief that she departed on Dec 2, the odor of cigarettes clinging to everything -- even her plastic hairbrush. "Never again!" she vowed. 

Looking back on her experience, she concludes that to stay sane in a cyber cafe you have to have particularly thick skin. 

"I'm not a cleanliness fanatic, nor do I come from a wealthy home," she remarks. "But even one day in this sort of rock-bottom environment affects me psychologically. After this, my humble home in a Saitama housing tract really seems like heaven on earth."

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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A whole week mixing it with the denizens of the Shinjuku netherworld and that's it? No insights, no conversations, no life stories, no character portraits, no dramas, half the article whinging about cigarette smoke and much of the rest about about how much she misses home? That's all? What's the point?

Send a real reporter next time.

25 ( +26 / -1 )

Send a real reporter next time.

BigYen@I suppose this is just a summary. You could always buy the magazine and read the full article. But I suspect you'll get even more complaints over tobacco odors.

Thanks for the laugh, though. It might be my only Christmas present this year.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Thanks for the laugh, though. It might be my only Christmas present this year.

Well, I certainly hope not, sport. But if my very un-Christmassy rant gave you a bit of a laugh, my work here is done. Merry Christmas to you, and to the Moderators for not consigning my post to the festive bin.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Send a real reporter next time.

My thoughts exactly. Wasn't she sent there to do a report?

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Send a real reporter next time.

I concur!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The government needs to crack down, internet cafes are not hotels, you should not sleep there, I can almost guarantee you they do not met and hotel safety standard. She should have been reporting on why this is allowed to happen!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sounds like she was a typical middle class Saitama girl that hated having to spend time with those "beneath her", god forbid she show a little empathy to those that society has chewed up and forgotten and grow as a person. Instead it seems like she just complains all the time and can't wait to get back into her safe bubble where she won't have to interact with "those people" again.

Maybe her next assignment can be at a fancy cocktail party in Roppongi and she can come out of it complaining about how everyone was being patronizing to her and her background when she mentioned that she was a lowly reporter from Saitama with no sense of irony.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Love the synopsis of the caliber of “Reporting”, herein.

not consigning my post to the festive bin -; love this, lol
2 ( +2 / -0 )

Pondering this further, I realize that readers of Jitsuwa Bunka Taboo don't expect hard-hitting investigative journalism. Furthermore the editor could have rejected the story as submitted and asked the cub reporter to give him an acceptable rewrite. He didn't do that because she delivered exactly what he wanted, a spoof, somewhat sexist in nature, to entertain readers as to what happens when you assign a kid who's completely out of their league to do a challenging story. I can imagine readers gleefully cackling with schadenfreude over this silly piece.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Around 2 a.m., realizing that six more days remained before her departure, she wept. 

And they say nurses have it tough...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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