I found myself a bit stuck for time and missed my last train home (drinking in The HUB for a bit too long). I had a few options: get a taxi, find a hotel, or keep partying till the trains start again.
The problem with the taxi option is that I have taken three taxis since I have been in Japan and all of them cost me north of 50 quid. The first two where Uber, until I was told Uber in Japan, isn’t the same as it is the UK. Uber in Japan is used by businessmen and CEOs that require a “professional driver” so I was told to use Japan Taxi which to be fair, was a bit cheaper (by about 1000 yen-about seven odd quid), so not much of a change really.
The problem with the second option was that hotels in Tokyo can be on the very, very! VERY! expensive side. I could get a love hotel for six to twelve hours but I was a bit weirded out by it at the time. As for just staying up and partying all night, well, although I am a binge drinking English man, bars typically close at 3am here and the trains don’t start until 6 giving me 3 hours homeless time. And then I discovered ManBoo.
Manboo is an internet cafe with three room options, you have your standard room with internet access, a tv room with a comfy recline-able chair, and a room with both Internet access, A TV and a bed. Now, when I say “room” and “bed” I use the terms very loosely. By room, I mean cubicle much like a typical office style cubicle that reaches a bit further up, say about 6ft with a lockable door, and when I say bed, I mean a bit of a thinner landing mat you would typically see in gym class, or a martial arts school.
The lobby area is more like a library with rows upon rows of every manga you can think of and you can take the books and comics to your room and chill out in private with your favorite manga and help yourself to unlimited free soft drinks, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Cheap food is also available from vending machines and I don’t mean your typical packets of crisps and chocolate bar type of vending machines, I mean real food vending machines, noodles, pasta, fried chicken, chips, dumplings etc.
I booked for twelve hours in the highest price room, TV, internet, bed, the works. I didn’t need twelve hours but I wanted to experience as much as I could of this strange place and maybe get some sleep. How wrong and naive I was.
Sleep was not a possibility. As you might expect a cubicle within a massive room filled with computer equipment and TVs was about the temperature of your average sized server room. The aircon did very little to help, especially as my cubicle was on the top floor and elevated towards the ceiling meaning that heat could easily get in but not out. The people inside the cubicle next to mine were (and I’m just going off the grunting, knocking, moving and giggling) having a very good time, and just when I thought it was over, it would start up again ten-fifteen minutes later. So either there was a pair of newlyweds with the stamina of Rambo on bull shark steroids or these places are frequented by a particular worker, and it makes sense!
A cheap room that you can pay for by the hour, with a mat, no questions asked, is the perfect place to engage in questionable nighttime activities. This kind of made me wonder, what went on in MY room before I got here… on my easily wiped down crash mat… noticing that the room wasn’t what I would call clean…
Needless to say, I spent the rest of the night chilling by the free drinks bar or bolt upright careful not to touch anything, watching Japanese TV (which is a whole blog post by itself). Needless to say, I will not be staying in an internet cafe again anytime soon.
Internet cafes have a use (for all kinds of people) and I am sure there are lots of people that would just like to book a room where they can play games, read manga, watch TV and have free drinks all night. In my teens I would be happy to say I was one of those people, however, my view of internet cafes in Japan is that they are now more of a sex den than a nerds paradise.