Internet Cafes can be interesting places, from your professional franchise cafe in a mall to hair salon / internet cafes run by mostly Nigerians in the suburbs of Pretoria, South Africa… but enough about what we know, there is something more interesting in Japan.
Internet Cafes are all over the urban Japanese landscape and is of course a nice resting place for regular folk, offering game consoles, DVD players and soft drinks. But there is a major difference to the Internet cafes we are used to.
You see, Japanese Internet Cafes also have showers, private rooms with big reclining chairs and there is one chain of cafe’s ‘Manboo’ that even has a nail salon! Internet Cafes are so great in Japan that there are even people living in them, as in customers! Many cafe’s charge roughly 20 US dollars a night, which includes free on-line, DVD, TV, manga and soft drinks. Makes some of us jealous!
According to a Japanese government study it is estimated that over 5,400 Nanmin spend at least half a week in net cafes. The study also found that these refugees have little interest in the vast manga collections or even the Internet at these facilities but more interested in the low rent.
These live-in customers even have a word describing them: ‘net cafe Nanmin’ (literally, ‘net cafe refugees’ as well as ‘cyber-homeless’. Some net cafe Nanmin are unemployed, taking refuge until they find a job and make money for a better life-style, teenagers and even people on holiday. Other ‘residents’ are low paid workers that can only afford to stay there. A net cafe is a way station to a better life to most of its residents.
There was a Japanese J-Horror movie Occult (Okaruto) that has a nanmin character. The movie is a ‘found footage’ film in the form of a documentary with some Lovecraftian-theme to it. The movie was released in 2009 and is directed by Koji Shiaishi.
If you want to see more about the culture of net cafe refugees, try these links and learn more.
Here is an article that let us meet some nanmin and learn their stories: http://bit.ly/home_of_the_Underemployed
Here is an article that deals more with the culture of the lost generation: http://bit.ly/lost_Generation
Interested in the Occult movie? Here is a link to its trailer: http://bit.ly/occult_movie_trailer