If you’re looking for affordable, alternative places to stay overnight, don’t overlook Japan’s numerous internet cafes offering services such as overnight accommodations, showers, food and beverages in addition to the usual internet access, DVD rentals and manga comic books. Some cafes in the cities even have English language books and newspapers. In the town of Okayama where I live, with a population of just 600,000 people, there are at least 4 internet cafes within walking distance from the train station.
Internet cafes can be a great place to stay overnight when you want a central location to catch an early bus or train in the morning, or when you just need a place to crash for a few hours. There are no beds or futons though-you just sleep in a reclining chair in the same room as the pc.
Internet cafes charge by the hour. The one I frequent is approximately 500 yen per hour and you may use any part of the cafÃ© during this hour (showers, free beverage service, DVDs and internet). Most cafes have an overnight package (“nighto pakku”) costing around 2,000 yen from 10pm to 8am. During this time, you may use all the facilities for this price and may include a continental breakfast. Overnight usually means sleeping in a reclining chair, and blankets are usually available upon request.
How to find internet cafes
Internet cafes can be found on shopping streets or main streets near train stations. These shopping streets, called “shoutengai,” and are usually covered streets closed to traffic. Internet cafes are usually on the second floor and their services can vary widely.
World 66 has a guide to internet cafes in Japan. Do a search for the city you will be visiting and you’ll find links to internet cafÃ© websites. They also have satellite maps of the area. One chain of cafes is called “Media CafÃ© Popeye.”
Some of these cafes are less reputable than others. If a place has adverts for porno DVDs on the walls, you might find more than sleeping is going on in the rooms. Check for cleanliness. Many times the doors on the rooms don’t lock and you may not be permitted to leave the cafÃ© in the middle of the night. There is an attendant on duty all night but if you are a woman, its best to stay in these places only if you are with someone else.
“Amy Chavez is author of Guidebook to Japan: What the other guidebooks won’t tell you” She is a columnist for The Japan Times, co-hosts the Planet Japan podcast and teaches Japanese online. Visit her website at www.amychavez.com