Translated by Yukina Sekine
Just One Try and You're Hooked! What is an "Internet Cafe"?
Written by Marina Maeda
When you walk around a Japanese town, you will notice that there's a lot of signs that read "ネットカフェ (net cafe/internet cafe)". They're actually a very common sight in Japan. However, would you be able to explain what an internet cafe is? Some of you may not be so familiar, or may not be able to give a detailed explanation. If so, you've come to the right place.
What is an Internet Cafe？
An internet cafe is often referred to as a "ネカフェ (ne-cafe)".
Internet cafes are often found in buildings with multiple shops and stores.You can't peer inside the cafe from the outside, so it's very hard to imagine what the atmosphere of the cafe is like. That explains why a friend of the writer described internet cafes as "slightly dodgy".
However, did you know that the people who have actually been to an internet cafe tend to become regular customers?
Why are internet cafes so appealing, you ask?
Here's some basic information for those who'll be going to an internet cafe for the first time.
1. "All-you-can-use" Internet Service
(Image source: internet cafe POPEYE official website http://www.media-cafe.ne.jp/)
As the name "internet cafe" suggests, you can use the internet as much as you like. The majority of these stores have popular online games installed in their computers, so it's common for people to go to ne-cafes just to play online games.
2. "All-you-can-read" Manga Service
You can read as many mangas as you like. This is great because...need I say more?
There are stores with a wide range of weekly and monthly mangas, magazines, and even photo books. At 「メディアカフェ ポパイ (Media Cafe POPEYE)」, the internet cafe which the writer visited for this article, they have over 40,000 mangas in stock. This is the ultimate place for individuals who want to read multiple mangas, or for those who just want to lay back on a comfy chair and read until one's heart's content.
3. "All-you-can-drink" Drink Service
Internet cafes have a lot of 「～し放題！("all-you-can-___")」services, and this applies to drinks as well.
From coffee, tea, frizzy drinks, to soup, a wide range of beverages are available. Furthermore, the stores have vending machines that sell precooked meals (additional charge), cup noodles, and snacks.
4. 24 Hour Service
Most internet cafes are open 24/7. You can enter the cafe any time of the day as long as there is an empty stall or room available. This is great for people who missed the last train and can't get home, or for those looking for a place to spend the night, but don't have enough money on them for a hotel room.
5. Cheap Fee
All-you-can use internet service, all-you-can-read manga service, and all-you-can-drink drink service...you probably expect a hefty bill, right? Wrong. You can do so many things at an internet cafe, but the most appealing factor is it's cheap price.
"Business hotels" are known to be inexpensive, but one night stay will cost around 5000 yen, in comparison to the 2000 yen if you spend a night at a ne-cafe.(*1)
While the exact price varies depending on the size and "rank" of your stall/room, you can reside in a stall/room for 400 yen per hour. Some internet cafes have a variety of discount services including an "all-inclusive price (パック料金)" which is useful when you want to take a short break or even when you're looking for a long resting place at a cheap price.
(*1)The exact price varies depending on the internet cafe, weekday/weekend, availability of stalls, etc.
So, what do you think? Do you see yourself becoming a regular customer? It may take a bit of courage to enter a ne-cafe the first time. But take that first step, and enjoy the services at a ne-cafe to it's full extent.
Here are the details for the internet cafe that the writer visited for this article:
メディアカフェポパイ天王寺店 (Media Cafe POPEYE Tennoji Branch)
Address：4th floor AIT Building 2-1-29 Abenosuji Abeno-ku, Osaka-shi
Service hour: 24 hour service
Closed days: none
Credit card service: Available (Edy)
Station: JR Line "Tennoji Station" (JR線「天王寺駅」)
Access: 3 minute walk from JR Line "Tennoji Station" Exit No.13 (JR「天王寺駅」13番出口)
3 minute walk from Kintetsu Line "Abenobashi Station" Exit No.1 (近鉄線「阿部野橋駅」1番出口)
3 minute walk from Tanimachi Line and Midosuji Line "Tennoji Station" Exit No.9 (大阪市営地下鉄谷町線、御堂筋線「天王寺駅」9番出口)
Official website: http://www.media-cafe.ne.jp/