Online but off the grid – Japan’s internet café homeless

Paul Raven @ 29-08-2007

Websurfers in an internet cafeIn an example of interstitial existence that sounds like it leaped straight from the pages of a William Gibson novel, the Japanese government has announced that there are over 5,000 “internet café refugees” eking out a living at the bottom of the social strata, taking what temporary work they can and dossing down in 24-hour internet cafés in the absence of a home of their own. Even in the shadow of our ubiquitous technologies, the same social issues that have existed for centuries are following us into the future … [Image by Kai Hendry]

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8 Responses to “Online but off the grid – Japan’s internet café homeless”

  1. Brian Wanamaker says:

    It’s interesting; I’d heard that these things are in use by businessmen who quit drinking at 02:00 or later, and don’t want to sleep on benches until the first trains start running at 05:00 or so. I’ve also seen them touted as an alternative to youthhostels, esp. since many boast shower facilities.

    This is the first I’ve heard about interstitial residency in them.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Living in Japan, I’ve come into contact with these quite a bit. A friend of mine crashes out in one when he stays out drinking past last train (a ridiculously early 11:30pm).

    Last week I went to one to check emails after our connection was cut for some reason. The one I used to use often has moved to a bigger place and you can choose between a reclining chair to browse in, or a ‘mat.’ I opted for the mat because a recliner isn’t conducive to sitting close the monitor or keyboard. But the mat was just that, a padded mat. It wasn’t quite enough for me to stretch out fully, but then at 188cm, I’m rather tall for this country.

    If I can find a good one, it would be a good alternative to the claustrophobic capsule hotel when I go to Tokyo and go out drinking. In my town of 250k people, it’s a quite economical US$25 or so for a 5hr stretch.

    My colleagues told me about a previous coworker, a heavy drinker with ‘social problems’ who was evicted from his apartment and spent the last 6 months he was there living in cafes.

    Hope you find these anecdotes intriguing.

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    […] know how many of you have looked at the CHI 2008 Student Design Problem, but I found this little blurb from Wired that may help us get some motivation. Basically there’s a sizable amount of […]

  4. Second Life Loser » Blog Archive » Smorgasbord of short links says:

    […] they can and dossing down in 24-hour internet cafés in the absence of a home of their own.” Link. (Futurismic via Bruce […]

  5. JohnK says:

    I visited an Internet cafe in Tokyo back in 2002. I don’t think it was open 24 hours a day but I could see people living in there, it was definitely dark enough. The food prices were kind of high, I seem to remember french frys being about 300 yen. However, it is good to know that if I find myself on the streets of the neon city after the trains stop I can catch a few z’s and check my email at the same time.

  6. links for 2007-09-19 » a big guy in a big city says:

    […] Online but off the grid – Japan’s internet café homeless — Futurismic (tags: Japan culture computers internet social toread) […]

  7. Japan’s Internet Cafe Homeless | TeamDroid says:

    […] boingboing and futurismic]The internet cafe refugees – no friends or prospects, and only a cubicle to call […]

  8. the grid internet says:

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