Once Simple Manga Cafes, Now Multipurpose Spaces (March 18, 2004)
Manga cafes, once seen as hangouts
for young people with nothing else to do, are acquiring a new and upgraded identity.
Despite the name, manga cafes are typically equipped
not only with manga (comic books) but also with computers
and video games. But on top of this regular fare, tanning rooms, foot baths, and
even massages have joined the menus of the more deluxe establishments. As their
services expand, manga cafes are taking on a new name, complex cafes. While maintaining the quiet
for which they have been known, these cafes are evolving into hideouts where customers
can concentrate on work or simply chill out in the privacy of their cubicles.
|Cubicles in a manga cafe (Runsystem)
Cafe, Hotel, Office, or Amusement Park?
The Ikebukuro district is Tokyo's capital of manga
cafes. Stepping into one typical manga cafe, one is
greeted by row upon row of compartments, each with a personal computer and TV
on the desk. The charge is ¥380 ($3.62 at ¥105 to the dollar) for the
first hour and ¥50 ($0.48) for every 10 minutes thereafter. The cafe stocks
some 30,000 manga, as well as about 100 DVDs and 100
video games. An average of 600 customers go through its doors daily.
The best deal is to be found late at night. Those entering at 11 PM onwards are
charged only ¥980 ($9.30) for six hours, with all-you-can-drink tea, coffee,
and soft drinks included, and are free to bring in food. Taking advantage of this
nighttime deal, some young people who missed the last train home spend the night
there in lieu of staying in a hotel.
|Customers can use these places to conduct business as well. (Runsystem)
This is the norm for manga cafes
these days. But lately new variations that offer a myriad of services are emerging,
known as complex cafes. Some of these are specifically designed to serve business
or entertainment needs.
At AirsCafe in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, corporate employees account for
45% of the clientele. It carries no video game software so that users can concentrate
on work in quietude, and instead it rents out such equipment as personal computers,
printers, and fax machines. Furnished with the latest facilities, the cafe is
for many a better work environment than their office. Business people often stop
by on their way between their office and a client's to relay e-mail messages and
data. The rate is ¥100 ($0.95) for every 15 minutes. The cafe has further
plans of offering an even quieter, work-friendly setting by constructing cubicles.
At the other end of the spectrum are complex cafes whose mission is to entertain.
The Kameido branch of the Jiyu Kukan complex cafe chain in Tokyo's Koto Ward attracts
crowds of couples and families. In addition to a manga
collection, the cafe's bill of fare includes table tennis and billiard facilities,
video games, and dart games. Drinks are free, and food can be bought from vending
machines. There are rooms set aside just for women, as well as Japanese-style
rooms with tatami floors.
Falling Land Prices, Rising Complex Cafes
Complex cafes now number 2,500 nationwide. About 1,500 of these came into being
about five years ago through the union of manga cafes
and newly emerging Internet cafes. The remaining 1,000 set up shop from the start
as complex cafes offering a wide variety of services. Restaurants and other businesses
have jumped on the bandwagon, and declining land prices have encouraged new openings
and larger outlets. In the case of the company operating Jiyu Kukan, it developed
its pool halls into complex cafes in an attempt to break out of a plateau in the
number of visitors, and it has since opened dozens of branches across Japan.
The Japan Complex Cafe Association, established in May 2001, expects more entries
from other sectors. Complex cafes will increase to around 5,000 and come into
widespread use as multipurpose spaces for relaxation and recreation, the association
Related Web Sites
Coffee Shop Culture in Nipponia
Jiyu Kukan (Japanese only)
AirsCafe (Japanese only)
Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.
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