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Internet Cafes

December 8th, 2006

As I am away from home for more than a day, I am using an Internet cafe to make this post. I was hoping for a cafe that would allow me to use my own computer (with my blogging software and browser bookmarks), but this place, at least, does not allow for that. No WiFi, and the Ethernet cable for the computer is too short and cannot reach my laptop.

This cafe also has a fair amount of privacy; all the computer areas are walled off, and though the doors do not completely block the doorways, you could easily imagine salarymen coming in at any time of day or night and doing… er, questionable things. You can ever rent a “pair seat” with a nice, cushy couch where two people could, er, well, you know.

But for those not lecherously-minded, there comes with the 400-yen-per-hour usage charge free drinks and bite-sized candies, not to mention free usage of manga comics, PS2 video games, or movies on DVD. Or, if you’re willing to pay, meals (including beef bowls, pasta, curry and so forth). Printing will also cost extra, 20 yen for a B&W printout, 50 yen for color.

Not all cafes have such private booths; it ranges from open counters with rows of computers to a variety of openness in booths. Most train stations (hubs of commerce in Japanese communities) have Internet cafes, which offer a variety of services and styles to attract customers. Want to sit in a massage chair while you surf? This random choice of cafes might give you an idea of a small neighborhood cafe. Some cafes will go so far as to offer almost spa-like treatment, with relaxation booths for ladies that include skin treatments and manual massages. In other words, more than just your basic computer-on-a-counter.

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  1. Paul
    December 9th, 2006 at 05:18 | #1

    One of my more vivid memories from my China trip was stopping by an internet cafe in Hong Kong. On the third floor, up a typical cramped super-narrow staircase (I’m not huge but my shoulders were practically brushing both walls as I went up) and through a low doorway was a dark cave of a room.

    The emphasis was on “internet”, not cafe; they’d sell you a Coke or a cup of coffee, but the vast majority of the users weren’t bothering. It was very crowded and no privacy; instead, full of rambunctious teenagers and pre-teens playing Warcraft and other various online games, yelling at each other and pounding the keys and generally enjoying the heck out of themselves.

    It was about 105, maybe 110 degrees in there; I’m sure whatever AC they had was cranked as it was 90 outside but there wasn’t much in the way of appreciable cooling. It had to have been there, the body heat and computers’ heat would have overwhelmed everyone otherwise.

    My ex-gf is presently touring Asia as well. She was able to find Skype-enabled computers in many internet cafes in Vietnam and Thailand and we got to have a video call a while back. The one she was calling from was pretty luxurious with leather chairs, food and drinks, and so forth.

    It’s interesting to see the wide variety of internet cafes. The combination of going out into a public space with lots of other people and then engaging in a solitary pursuit is fascinating- kind of like a Seattle coffee shop where in theory we’re in a public place around other people, but blocking them out with a laptop or iPod or some kind of reading material.

    Seattle, WA

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