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:
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.
Read more stories from grape Japan.
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