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Photo: Terra Dragos
lifestyle

Super convenient internet cafes in Japan

6 Comments
By Terra Dragos, grape Japan

Yes, I'm sure most people have been to an internet cafe at least once in your life, and they certainly come in many flavors. You have your typical internet/manga cafe, where you can use a computer from an "open desk" sort of space, potentially sitting next to other customers (oh, my!), and choose something to read from the massive selection of comics and magazines. Most big chain internet cafes come equipped with a shower, as well, so if you plan on staying the night in one of the rooms, they’ve got you covered with a nice shower that is available to use at an additional charge.

There are some internet cafe branches that are purely self-serve. Once you sign up as a member, you're able to use your member card by scanning your card, picking out which seat you want, and that's it. No need to talk to anyone, you can stay for as long as you want (in moderation, although many cafes also have a shower you can use!), and all you have to do when you leave is scan your card again and pay at the self-serve register. Amazing.

It gets even better than that. Depending on the business, there are certain rooms that are entirely private and come equipped with a lock. This is handy for people (like me) who need to unplug from the world and all of its distractions to some degree to get any work done in a safe, quiet area where you know no one will bother you. Please keep in mind that even if some locations don't come equipped with a lock for individual cubicles, the degree of safety and respect within Japan may startle you. That is, not to say that you should completely lower your guard, but there is at least a much greater sense of safety here. For those who have a difficult time concentrating, sometimes getting out of the house and over to the nearest internet cafe is helpful to stay productive. Personally, a simple change of atmosphere helps to stay on task and meet necessary deadlines.

There are a ton of different internet cafe companies in Japan:

Maboo!

Dice

Jiyuu Kuukan -- space create (literally Free Space)

Just to name a few. Most internet cafes are nicely kept and clean, and relatively quiet. But for those who like to bring their own personal laptops to work on and not have to worry about whether or not the public computers come equipped with the programs that you need, it can be a little difficult packing everything up just to be on the safe side when you need to leave your area to use the restroom. Generally speaking, there are no locks on individual cubicles. Your items would likely be fine while you were absent, but there's always a risk and with a high-tier laptop... You're best not to risk it.

Another good thing about certain cafes is the ability to order both food and drink directly from your desk. All you have to do is open up internet Explorer, take a look through the menu, and order what you like. You need to enter your seat number when prompted, but besides that, you need not do anything else; just sit back and wait for the staff to bring your order!

Some locations have specific areas for women that are separated by a locked door, which you need an electronic key to enter. Others offer completely secure rooms that use a barcode on the receipt you are given upon entering. I would highly recommend putting this receipt in your wallet or smartphone case so you don’t lose it and then cannot reenter your room. For these select locations of internet cafes that offer rooms like this, you are also able to come and go from the premises as you like. As long as you have your receipt, you are able to reenter with no problem.

Upon checking out, all you need to do is scan your member's card at the register and it will display the allotted time that has expired since you entered, any additional charges for food or drinks, and if there are any discounts offered for longer stays. The pricing is also quite reasonable. I only paid about 1,000 yen to use a completely safe and solitary room for three hours since they tend to give discounts for staying three or more hours. If you plan to pay with a credit card, you’ll have to get help from the staff to pay at the front desk.

One thing I always tend to forget is that you need to use the barcode printed on the receipt after payment in order to exit. So, please don’t forget to take your receipt after paying at the kiosk!

It’s perfectly safe and clean and, depending on the chain and location, you may not even need to talk to anyone while you’re there.

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© grape Japan

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6 Comments
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When I first went to Japan in the early 2000s, most people didn't have email addresses, laptop computers were only for business and clam-shell phones weren't built for surfing the world-wide-web. Of course my company apartment had no internet access. I found a local internet cafe and was shocked over how great it was! Fast, reliable PCs everywhere, all you can drink coffee and soft drink, even curry and onigiri at 6pm! Private booths, Playstations, karaoke room, shower room (never used but knew where it was in an emergency), thousands of comics I couldn't read, 24 hours a day for about 300 Yen an hour (1000 yen for 5 hours after 10pm!) I remember some weird guy picking up ALL the onigiris for himself one day, angering the guy behind him. The selfish guy dropped the tray of rice balls he had intended to eat by himself, smashing the food all over the floor. Of course, he just looked at the mess and began to walk off. Well, that was to much for the angry customer who missed out. He began screaming at the moron and at the time I couldn't speak Japanese but I wish I could have. The clumsy guy wasn't going to clean the mess, the staff pleading for calm saying they would take care of it. Out of nowhere some other random stands up and cold cocks the clumsy guy. The original angry customer kicks the guy lying in a mess of broken plates, coke and rice. I thought it was quite hilarious. The two angry men then sat down back to what they were doing, the guy on the floor gets up crying and wiping rice off himself and walks out. The little staff girl sweeping up the mess. Back in my smoking days I could light up a cigarette inside and connect with the outside world. Rent a private booth and I could take in my bento and beer and listen to the football.

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And in many parts of the us, dialup speed is the norm. Went from streaming video to 1 second of video followed by loading circle for 1 minute, followed by another second of video. "For only $1 a day, you too can help the backward third world rural america receive internet that streams video all the way. Your donation helps to build internet speed towers..."

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In 1997, using a local internet cafe and Japanese computer built my first art web in English and Japanese with Windows 95. That was some achievement and still have the website.

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skinee

"clam shell phones weren't built for surfing the world wide web"

Sure thing bud. I won't even bother with the rest of your comment, but it would make a great movie! ...

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If only smoking was banned in these internet cafes, they would be nice place to hang out in. My local ones are cancer dens so I cannot go there. After April 1st, what will they do about smoking? Have they at least no concern for the staff stuck there to inhale hours of cancer causing clouds?

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No smoking yes but the ones in the photo the rooms are no smoking, signs on the door.

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