Spending the night in an Internet Café

Rodney McGary | Machida, Japan | Spring 2015

You may have read the title and thought, “What the heck?!” Well, that’s one of the many convenient things about life in Japan, you can camp out in a net café overnight if you miss your last train or bus home.  As for me, the idea of doing this circulated in my mind before arriving, but I never intended to stay out and miss my last train. Instead, I wanted to go out at night with the express purpose of staying in one of these net cafés. Anyway, one night I went out to an International Mixer-type Meetup way out in Yurigaoka. Little side note, if networking is one of your goals while studying abroad or you want to make friends with people who aren’t students I highly encourage you to create a Meetup account because there are countless Meetup groups in Tokyo that suit any and all interests. With that being said, I had such a good time talking to different people, practicing Japanese, drinking, etc, that I left later than I should have. Luckily the trains were still running when I left the Yurigaoka. Upon arriving at Machida station, I made the foolish assumption that buses would still be running at 1AM (insert face palm here).

Collage of a Japanese Internet Cafe storefront.Another important thing to note is that most buses and trains shut down around midnight or earlier in Japan, which a city-born kid like myself found a wee-bit inconvenient, but it is what it is. Fortunately, there are 24-hour Internet/Manga cafés everywhere, including Machida. I made my way to the nearest one, Café B@gus. When checking-in, you’ll be asked to choose from a few rooming options, which included room/booth with: leather chair, leather reclining chair, flat sleeping surface, and leather reclining massage chair. I opted for the massage chair because I really was in need of a massage and it wasn’t too expensive. As for pricing, it varies according to the kind of surface you get and the duration of your stay, which ranged from 3 hours to 24 hours (I think). For the reclining massage chair for a little over 5 hours it only ran me about 13USD. After checking in, I was given a key to my space and told I can enjoy all the free ice cream, soft drinks, and manga as I pleased for the allotted time.

My spot was upstairs in a section with 7 cubicles complete with chairs, desk, and computers (with door), which made it look like a proper office (but instead of working you sleep and relax). After throwing my things down and removing my shoes, I went downstairs to the hot food vending machine that offered: thick fries, hot dogs, fried chicken, yakisoba, takoyaki, fried rice, and onigiri for just 300 yen. After selecting yakisoba, I got myself some ice cream from the machine while I waited 110 seconds for the machine to heat my food then dispense it. For something that dropped from a vending machine, the yakisoba was actually pretty good (and piping hot). Since I didn’t have much time to waste, as I just wanted a little sleep, I wolfed down my food and along with some strawberry coffee from a different machine upstairs. After finishing my food, a few minutes were spent fiddling with the controls on the chair to get a position for optimal massage comfort. It felt great and all, but trying to sleep in one position with your back firmly pressing against a large massage ball in the spine of the chair isn’t an ideal way to get a good night’s rest. I managed to find a position that wasn’t too bad and rested until I heard someone’s mobile alarm clock go off.  The person who set the alarm was completely oblivious to the annoying “beep-beep” which continued even as I was leaving with cubicle four minutes later.  On the way out, all that was left to do is turn in the key, then I was on my merry way home.  However, the buses on Sunday morning start running a little after 7, so I rode the train from Machida to Fuchninobe (just two stops), footed it home, changed into my jammies, and got a proper (day’s) sleep.