For a Cheap Motel, Stay at a Cafe

September 26, 2008 at 8:25 am Leave a comment

You’ve been running around Tokyo with blistering feet. On top of that, your Akihabara shopping spree has left you penniless — and you haven’t even booked a room for the night. What do you do? Head to the nearest Manga cafe, of course!

It’s a one-stop haven for all your geeky needs. Pay as little as $3 and you get a private cubicle with a high-speed computer for shopping, gaming, chatting and whatever else people do online. Shower rooms, free non-alcoholic beverages and phone chargers are provided at no additional cost, so there’s really no reason to go home.

And as implied by its name, manga cafes are loaded with comic books. That was the original idea: To provide an affordable way for kids to catch up on their favorite graphic novels, which are $3 to $4 a copy but can easily add up when there’s over 100 in a series. But as video games got bigger, so did the demand for privacy between man and machine. (Don’t you hate it when mom nags about dinner just before a boss battle??)

Moreover, manga cafes are a lifesaver for when you’ve just missed the last train. A 12-hour stay costs no more than $30 — half the price of a seedy Tokyo business hotel (though just as stinky). There are no beds, unfortunately, but some cafes supply comfy recliners.

Serving as a home away from home, manga cafes have become the populationbreeding ground for the nation’s ‘working poor’ population, so it’s not usual to see men milling about in suit and tie. Teens love it because they can spend the night with boyfriends/girlfriends… just holding hands, of course. There’s little privacy to do much more.

Of course, many a gaijin have also found their way here. It’s a novel approach traveling on a shoestring budget. You’d be the coolest tourist ever IMing your friends from a manga cafe. “Hey! Guess where I am?!” you’ll greet to your friends in Baltimore, followed by, “Ugh, I think the guy in the next cubicle farted.” Definitely something to write home about. (^_<)


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September 2008