Trend in Japan Web Japan
Business and Economy Lifestyle Science and Technology Fashion Arts and Entertainment Sports People
Once Simple Manga Cafes, Now Multipurpose Spaces (March 18, 2004)

manga cafe
Cubicles in a manga cafe (Runsystem)
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.

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.

manga cafe
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 predicts.

 Page Top

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.

Related articles
(October 22, 2003)

(October 17, 2003)

(August 20, 2001)

(June 26, 1998)
Drop Us a Line
Your Name

What did you think of this article?

It was interesting.
It was boring.

Send this article to a friend

Go TopTrends in Japan Home

Go BackLifestyle Home