So you’re planning on spending the night at a Manga Cafe in Japan, congratulations (I think). I’ve done my fair share of overnights at a number of Japanese manga cafes, mostly to do with convenience, location, and price.
You can technically show up and stay at pretty much any manga cafe, but I recommend bringing a couple of things to make your experience a bit easier.
Basically, you should bring:
1. Passport or foreigner registration card
By law, you are required to show your passport (or foreigner registration card, if you are a long-term resident in Japan) at a Manga café. However, it’s not just cafés – you need to bring your passport everywhere you go. While I haven’t been stopped in Tokyo, I’ve had friends who have been stopped and arrested/detained for not carrying their cards.
For those of you who don’t know what a Manga Cafe / 漫画喫茶店 is, check out this article about Why People Go to Manga Cafes in Japan.
2. Membership card
If you don’t have a membership card, you are required to make one before you can rent a room. It typically costs 100yen (about a dollar) to make this card; you have to input some basic information including address, passport number, and age.
3. Eye mask
Most manga cafés will sell eye masks for between 100yen and 200yen. Manga cafés understand that only a few of their patrons come to actually read any of the hundred volumes of manga comics. Most people use manga cafés as a cheap place to sleep (if they missed the last train) or a place to use the internet for cheap.
While I did end up reading four volumes of the hit detective comic “Conan,” I spent the majority of my three hours sleeping. As a result, I brought my frog eye mask from home, so I didn’t have to pay the extra 150yen for a store eye mask.
The guy snoring loudly in the cubicle next to me purchased a manga café brand cheap eyemask and ear plugs (maybe so his own snoring wouldn’t wake him up).
4. Ear plugs
I mentioned before the guy next to me was snoring. It was loud. It was really loud. As anyone who has ever shared a room with me (roommates, family members, friends) would know, snoring is my biggest pet peeve.
When I looked at the Manga café website, they said patrons were required to be quiet. For some reason, I thought that meant I didn’t need earplugs.
I was wrong. There was so much snoring going on. I eventually snuck into the bathroom, grabbed some toilet paper, and fashioned some crappy ear plugs out of small wads of tissue (since I’m too cheap to pay 100yen for new earplugs).
In the end, my “ghetto” earplugs didn’t work very well.
5. Alarm clock
Manga cafés, of course, charge by the hour. When you enter (after you make your membership card), they will ask you how long you want to stay. The one I stayed at had a price breakdown of:
- 30 minutes = 250yen
- 3 hours (between 6am and 5pm) = 500yen
- 3 hours (after 5pm and before 6am) = 980yen
- 7 hours = 1500yen
- Time extension (in case you oversleep) = 100 yen for every fifteen minutes
Basically, oversleeping isn’t horrible expensive, but it is still a bit costly (400yen an hour). I registered for a 3 hour pack, since I was meeting up with a friend at 3:45am to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market (the only reason I stayed at the manga café was because the trains in Japan are not 24-hours. The earliest I could get to Tsukiji Fish Market Tuna Auction from my apartment was 5:30am, long after the tickets are sold out).
The loud, snoring guy in the cubicle across from mine had an alarm that started going off at 3:20am, and continued to ring for a couple seconds every five minutes. When I walked past his cubicle (when I was leaving to pay), I saw he had bright yellow earplugs stuffed into his ears – he didn’t really notice the alarm was going off (which, you know, sucks for everyone else in the shop).
He was still sleeping when I left.
Don’t forget your alarm clock, or you might end up footing a pretty incredible bill…
6. (Quiet) Food
The problem with paying by the hour is you are not permitted to leave the manga café. I guess they’re worried about people sneaking off without paying. While they have a “drink bar” of water, coffee, tea, and sodas, they don’t have very much food (aside from cheap instant ramen for 300yen). I smuggled in a bag of popcorn and an energy bar, to munch on when I got hungry.
All-nighters always make me hungry. There is nothing worse than being too hungry to sleep…
7. A pillow or blanket
Manga cafés have three types of “booths:” a “bed” (a thin black gym mat on the floor, a small desk, and a computer with free internet), a “reclining chair” (a room with a comfortable chair that reclines all the way flat, a desk, and a footstool) or a “computer chair” (a reclining chair that doesn’t quite recline all the way down, but comes with a computer, free internet, and a desk). Regardless of what you choose, it’s not exactly comfortable.
Bring a pillow if you have any problems sleeping without a pillow. I just used my purse as a pillow; I woke up with a funny bruise in the shape of my purse clasp on my left cheek.
Bring a blanket if you get cold at night. My toes were a bit nippy, but I was able to sleep pretty well.
If you want to stay at Com Com Manga Cafe (the place I stayed at) so you can go to the early morning Tsukiji Fish Market Tuna Auction, here is some information:
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If you have any other advice for things to bring to a Manga Cafe (especially if you’re doing an overnight), please leave a comment below!