Lifestyle

The people who sleep in Tokyo’s net cafes

HOUSING SHORTAGES IN BIG CITIES COME WITH SERIOUS SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES

Populations in major cities are constantly on the rise, leading to huge housing crisis. This has never been more apparent than in Tokyo where inner city accommodation is both severly limited and hugely expensive. At the other end of the spectrum, commutes into the city from outlying areas are so long, often taking up to 2 hours either way and apartments so tiny, that growing numbers of people have embraced sleeping in internet cafes.

In 2007, 60,900 people spent a night at an internet cafe and an estimated 5,400 people live there because they have no home – Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Increasingly popular as low budget accommodation, manga kissa, (“kissa” being short for kissaten – Japanese for cafeteria) are internet cafes where people can pay roughly 1,920 yen a day to read manga, stay in a small private booth, and have access to showers, meals and drinks. Some manga kissa even offer women-only sections.

Initially considered a taboo subject and something to be ashamed of, the social stigma around living in shared spaces is slowly breaking down. Many Japanese have embraced manga kissa and view it as a means to a more luxurious lifestyle – huge comic libraries, top-end gaming, easier dinner options – as opposed to living in a tiny flat hours, hours out of town.

 

Posted by Rikus Geldenhuys