So I decided to visit a Manga Kissa for the first time the other day. “Manga” means comic book and “Kissa” is short for “Kissaten” which means cafe. Originally, a Manga Kissa is a cafe equipped with a lot of comic books where you pay to sit and read comics for as long as you like (you pay by the hour basically).
Lately, virtually all manga kissa have become internet cafes as well, offering not only computers with high-speed internet, but also DVD-players to watch movies, PS2 gaming, and free drinks. The basic layout of a modern manga kissa is lots of small booths with a comfortable chair and a computer in each. All booths have doors which can be closed for almost complete privacy – although the boots look a bit like bathroom booths in the sense that the walls do not reach all the way up to the ceiling, so I guess you won’t get 100% privacy. Further, there are booths for more than one person, pair seats etc. These booths are regulated by law to not have doors – I guess you can figure out the reason why by yourself, you don’t want people….well… doing *that* in there.
Here’s an example of a typical single seat:
and here is a pair seat with dual computers:
It’s a really cheap way to get Internet access and play some games for a few hours. Most places charge fixed rates for packs of 3-5 hours. 3 hours cost less than 1,000 yen (depending on the hour of the day though, it’s usually cheaper at night). You can even get an all-night pack (most places are open 24 hours) for around 1,000 yen if you check in at around midnight. The average place has about 20-30 booths I think, but there are huge ones which spans multiple floors and have over 100 individual booths.
It was an interesting experience for sure. When we were there, I spent most of the three hours relaxing in a fairly comfortable couch playing Tiger Woods on a PS2 (I don’t own a PS2 so it was a nice change) whereas my wife spent the whole time catching up on her manga reading. Three hours went by pretty fast, and having unlimited supply of soft drinks, tea, coffee etc as well as cheap snacks and small foods, made it an overall pleasant event. The only bad thing was that only about 30% of the booths are non-smoking, so we had to settle for a smoking one, and the air was a bit stuffy and smoky to say the least. On the non-smoking side, it was completely different, so when we go back, we have to make sure to get a non-smoking seat.
Recently, Manga Kissa have become a social phenomenon because of it’s attraction of homeless people spending the night at such places. Since you can an all-night pack for less than 1,000 JPY, and the cafes often are equipped with showers, it makes for a perfect substitute for a hotel, and much cheaper. It’s a safe & cheap environment to spend the night for someone who is down on his/her luck. Well, the recent development of Japanese society is something which deserves a whole post of itself, so I will not write anymore about it here…