First opened in 1995, Japan’s manga-plus-internet cafes are more than just a place to surf the web and read comics. They can be a viable alternative to renting a hotel or crashing on the street when you miss the last train. For some Japanese people, they’re even a kind of temporary home when times are tough. Tokyo manga cafes are typically stocked with everything you would need to, well, survive. Each booth has a computer and a reclining chair that can be almost comfortable to sleep in. More on that later. Meantime, here’s how to use the cafes, what you can expect—and where you can find them.
Finding a manga cafe
It’s not difficult to find a manga cafe in Tokyo. There are usually a couple (at least) dotted around train stations, with signboards or employees pointing the way (see the man in the red jacket below). The names vary from Internet Cafe (インターネットカフェ) to Manga Kissa (マンガ喫茶)—with “kissa” short for kissaten or cafe—and even Media Cafe (メディアカフェ). Sometimes you’ll see combinations/abbreviations of these titles.
When you’ve found a manga cafe, you just walk in and present yourself at the front desk. You may be asked to “register” at some cafes (this happened to us in Osaka), creating a kind of membership card, but others will let you use the facilities without much more than the signing of a piece of paper (if that). Don’t expect the staff to be fluent in English—you can usually get by with a few words of Japanese though, and nodding and pointing at what you want (politely). Once you’ve picked a payment package, they will show you to your booth—and you’re free to nap/watch Netflix/read Tokyo Cheapo to your heart’s content.
Amenities at Tokyo manga cafes
Nearly every manga cafe has unlimited soft drinks (there is usually a drinks dispenser in a public area), tea, coffee, DVDs which you can watch in your booth (they’ll tell you how many you can borrow at a time), TVs and PCs (obviously), plug points, games, manga (duh) and unlimited internet. Many also sell instant ramen and snacks, have printing facilities and luggage storage areas, and will let you walk in and out of the cafe as you please (some won’t let you leave without paying again, though—so check before you get settled).
Some manga cafes even have VR, vending machines, showers, a “changing area”, and a padded mat or sofa option (instead of the regular reclining chairs). A few cut the power and internet between midnight and 5am, to allow folks to get some shuteye, though this is becoming a bit outmoded.
Be warned: you might detect a somewhat seedy vibe at some manga cafes, and even see private-action accoutrements in the booths, or available to purchase. For a more in-depth look at what you can expect all-round, give this honest review of an internet cafe a read.
Prices for manga cafes in Tokyo
Rates range from as little as 100 yen for 30 minutes (usually just the first 30, then the fee goes up a bit) to 900-1500 yen for three hours and 1,600-3,000 yen for 7- to 12-hour packages. There are sometimes discounts for women (e.g. at Manboo!), as well as lower prices on weekdays.
Cheap and convenient manga cafes in Tokyo
There are hundreds and hundreds of manga cafes in Tokyo, and we can’t include them all (yet). What follows is a non-exhaustive list of some of the best options for a low-cost cyber stay. You’ll find them plugged into the map at the bottom of the page for ease of navigation.
GeraGera Manga Cafe
A chain of manga cafes with a frog as their mascot. Simple, straightforward use with reasonable rates and 24-hour access. You’ll need to pay 100 yen and register with some ID if it’s your first time. They’ve got branches in all of the main areas of Tokyo (and a few in outlying areas too). You’ll find a selection on the map below.
GeraGera Manga Cafe Shibuya
Com Com Manga Cafe
Somewhat out of the way for most, but one of the cheapest places to crash if you’re looking to make an early-morning auction at Tsukiji Fish Market.
Com Com Manga Cafe
Nagomi Net Cafe
A manga cafe with a difference. Akihabara-based Nagomi advertises itself as a Japanese-style internet cafe -as in, old-style Japan. You can rent samue (comfy traditional old-man clothes), and there is a distinct feeling of faux Kyoto about the place. You can also rent hair irons, and they serve breakfast sets. And you can make a reservation for a net booth too, which means that all in all, it feels more like a hotel than a manga cafe. Registration is 200 yen and you’ll need some ID.
Nagomi Internet Cafe
Media Cafe Popeye
You’ll find this brightly-branded chain across the country – they have close to 30 branches in the Kanto area alone. You can generally rent a private booth or use a computer in a shared area.
Media Cafe Popeye Shinjuku
Manboo! Manga Cafe
A cheap chain of net cafes, about as widely found as Takarajima 24 (see below). You’ll spot multiple branches around the big train stations (Shibuya, Shinjuku and so on), and solitary branches in outlying areas too. Some branches offer extra services – for example, ladies can have their nails done (their stereotyping, not ours).
Manboo! Shibuya Udagawa Branch
If you’re in need of a net cafe in Takao or Chigasaki, Asyl Esse (we’re not sure what the name signifies) is there and ready for your Buzzfeed quiz time/reclining/manga paging. There were a few more branches when this article was first written in 2013, but they seem to have closed down over the years.
Asyl Esse Chigasaki
Part of the Moopa! chain of internet and manga cafes, Comica is a good option for those looking for a net cafe in the Ebisu area.
Jiyū Kūkan Ebisu
A 24-hour net cafe chain that is (as you’ll see from the map), rather prolific in Tokyo. They boast a variety of different room types, VR games, and even karaoke (branch-dependent). They’re a little pricier than some other manga cafes.
Takarajima 24 Shibuya Head Office Branch
Did we miss one of your favorite Tokyo manga cafes that you think we should include? Post in the comments below.
This article was updated by Carey Finn in March 2017.