William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

23. Cybercafé Promises

Yesterday I promised that I’d talk about a cybercafé in Tokushima that I’ve visited twice so far.

It’s an awesome place. First, it’s about $4 an hour, but you can get three hours for $9. They require a membership, but that’s free, and when you sign up you get a whole bunch of 100-yen-off coupons, making the deal $3 an hour or three for $8.

In fact, you can stay all night for about $20. And why not? You can have a private booth with a reclining leather chair, computer, TV, PlayStation 2 – great for a six or seven hour nap, and in the morning you can have a shower and leave. And people do this. In fact, in some of the larger cities, people are doing this instead of renting apartments – they’re sometimes called “net café refugees” and they live at the cafés full time! This is sometimes done legitimately, and sometimes not.

But it’s also a perfect place for a short study session, or even if you just want to relax and catch up on your e-mail – a serious appeal for the interns who don’t have computers intern who doesn’t have a computer – she even asked me tonight if I was going to this place again in the near future.

It's a comfortable spot in more ways than one - if you’re feeling a little peckish, there’s a self-serve counter with free hot soup and free soft ice cream, and there’re lots of hot and cold drinks too! If you’re seriously hungry, you can order a plate of food, and the prices are reasonable.

The computers have all manner of games installed, and the booths have headphones, extra controllers, foot massagers, shelves, pull-out writing surfaces, desk lamps…

Also, if you like manga, then this is Heaven. The walls are literally covered with manga shelves – you can pop into the café in your spare time and read an entire series if you want. (Of course, it is all in Japanese, but I guess it gives you something to shoot for!) In fact, before the internet, these used to be (and still are) called manga cafés.

The first time F. and I visited, we were with L. for our Japanese lesson. We found a nice wooden table with comfortable chairs, and we did our Japanese there – there wasn’t a lot of time for ice cream and drinks, but I scarfed down what I could. =)

But when we left, I had a problem. To their credit, the lady at the counter was giving us the best of things – we’d stayed past the hour, but she didn’t dock us for the extra time. On the downside, I was shortchanged about 200 yen ($2). I don’t like to be pushy about things and part of me wanted to ask for my change, but I figured maybe she had some reason or procedure or somesuch still going on, and then she got into something else for a second. But when she said I could go, I asked about it then, and she said she’d given it to me. I said I didn’t remember that, and I searched my pockets, and also my wallet – there was one 100 yen coin there, but that was there before. If there had happened to be two, I would have believed her.

Well, I wasn’t going to start a fight about it, because my language skills weren’t up to the task. (She was, though, serving us in English.) But I left the place feeling quite sour. 200 yen is a lot when you’re counting every yen, and no one likes to feel shorted. I complained to F. a bit, and then we got on our bikes and headed home. I said I’d get over it eventually.

In fact, I did – so much so that I was willing to go back. So last week, we did go back – I was going to study Japanese, and F. would be catching up on her e-mail. We booked a booth for three hours and had a grand old time. (Actually, at times too good – the lady we deal with had to come by once and ask us to quiet down. So after that we talked in whispers.) But here’s the kicker – when we first arrived and were paying and booking, the lady said, “Oh! I’m sorry, last time I forgot to give you 200 yen!”

Oh, you just made my day. She must have cashed out at the end of the night, discovered she was a little over, and remembered what I’d said eight days ago. Sweet!

And now it’s probably nearly time to plan my next trip there. It’s a great place to get some work done – since you’re paying for the time you spend there, you’re motivated to use your time wisely. Here at the apartment I tend to spend too much time snacking, drinking, and snoozing. Speaking of which, it’s almost time for bed. =)
Tags: cybercafes, japan, manga
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