- The internet cafe refugees consist usually of the recluse and the homeless.
- The high cost of living in Japan contribute to the rise of the cyber homeless.
- They live on a tiny space with unlimited internet, live mostly on ramen, and use the common shower facility.
Internet cafes are the perfect place to chill – you can spend countless hours surfing online, bingeing on Netflix, or catching up on your reading. A lot of people actually end up falling asleep in the cafe, especially if the establishment allows it.
But Japan brings this level of chill to a whole new level by allowing people to actually sleep and stay in internet cafes. Which are not just talking about snoozing on the couches – as in people actually check in to spend the night.
These cafes in Japan, which existed since 1995, have become a popular alternative to staying in hotels.
These establishments are typically open 24 hours a day. For a relatively low price, one can enjoy unlimited internet, access to manga, and considerable privacy.
Now, these places even offer vending machines, drinks, and hot water to make ramen noodles. Some even offer on-site shower facilities. This is very helpful especially for budget tourists and travelers – Japan is one of the most expensive places in the world for travel.
But it’s not just the travelers who are doing this. Before, the people who are staying at the cafes are usually employees who missed the last subway ride or people who are too tired or too drunk to go home to farther residences.
Now there are people who stay at the cafe permanently, or at least for as long as they can pay the fee.
They are the “cyber homeless,” those who don’t have proper homes and have chosen to stay in the cafes.
These are people who can’t afford the expensive apartment rents in Japan, especially in places such as Tokyo. They are also not qualified for welfare benefits because they still do have income, mostly unstable.
According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in early 2018, there is an estimated 4000 internet cafe refugees.
Being a cyber homeless and an internet cafe refugee means living in a tiny cubicle.
Most of them are eating only ramen and taking quick showers at the common facility.
They make use of the unlimited internet by working online and augment their income.
Aside from being homeless, these internet cafe refugees are usually reclusive people who prefer to stay in their cubicles most of the day.
They just interact with other people when they get out of their space to use the restroom and grab some drinks at the kitchen or vending machine.
This situation is considered as one of the darker sides of Japanese life, in which people with no money are forced to live in the cafes and long-term employment is hard to come by.
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