How do I use the internet in Japan?

Japan is saturated with high speed internet – so fast it hurts. It’s not very hard to go to an internet café and send mail back home. Internet cafes here are a lot different than most other countries.


Internet cafe booth in Tokyo from erik jaeger's flickr blog


Internet Cafes



Japanese adults will often live in the same house as their parents until they marry. How the country has such a low crime rate, as it does, baffles me! Imagine living with you parents when you are 29, obviously you’d like to get to away. So after 13 hours straight of sitting at the office doing your very best to look busy you’d rather not head straight home. Some enterprising person saw a potential market here and created a “hang-out” for young men where they could read comics and enjoy free soft drinks. The use of such a place was charged by the hour.

These where manga hang outs the walls where lined with series after series of Japanese comic books. Nearly everyone of these hangouts is now also an internet café. I really like these places – they’re relaxing, private, cool, quiet and not too expensive. Inside they’re pretty dark, dark enough to sleep if you wanted. There are walls and walls of manga you’ve probably never heard of.

Then there are a number of cubicles. The cubicles are totally private and have a door for you to enter through. There will usually be no roof though. These cubicles each have a computer in them. There are cubicles for couples, if you’re a weighty chap or a couple who find love hotel prices at bit steep or two people who wish to play online games together. Somewhere there will be a complementary drinks bar – coffees, teas, soda machine, ice, slushy machines … and possibly other exciting stuff if you’re lucky. This area will usually be stocked with magazines too. Most places you’ll also be allowed to use a DVD library (maybe for free!), and a games library.

There are single cubicles with a sofa seat or if you feeling a little more stressed there are ones with leather chairs that have half a computer built in. The chair can change temperature, vibrate and massage. So you can grab a coffee and get to your hacking over the interweb in style and comfort.

Prices are about 250yen for an hour and the price gets cheaper the longer you stay. In fact as trains often stop running quite early many places in the cities have overnight packages. You’ll be able to grab one of the blankets off the shelves and sleep in your cubicle if you so wish.

In smaller cities you may have to sign up as a member (for free) even if you’ll only use the place once. In larger cities – if you spend less than fifteen minutes there – it will be entirely free!

Other



Places like Starbucks will often provided free wireless internet if you have a wireless enabled laptop. Some large malls will have coin operated internet access. Hotels will often provide a few computers to be used by guests, often found in the lobby. If live in Japan then you may want to sign up with an Internet Service Provider.

Links



- A list of Japanese Cafes by Prefecture (in Japanese)
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