After reading the initial wave of articles about the new trend of homeless young “freeters” and “NEETs” living in net cafes, I tried sleeping at a net cafe in Shibuya once while I was in Tokyo back in April or May. How was it? While Adam may have enjoyed his stays in net cafes, I found it so unpleasant that I left at around 3am and wandered the streets of Shibuya, at that hour mainly filled with solicitious Chinese prostitutes trying to entice me to come inside for a massage, or as one put it “you can have sex with me for 6000 yen,” until I found the capsule hotel I had spied a few days earlier. My back hurt such much from trying to curl up on the floor of the little padded computer cell that I was briefly tempted by the shady massages just by the thought of being able to lay down for a while, but despite my quite literally feverish state still had my wits about me enough to make it up-hill to the capsule hotel. How did I feel in the morning? Well, according to the latest article on the subject of net cafe homeless, telling us that a new government study estimates their population at 5,400:
In 2005, 13 people contracted tuberculosis at a Net cafe in Kawasaki that health officials suspect originated from the cafe’s homeless population.
That, plus the backache, pretty much sums how I felt the next day. My throat was so irritated by whatever infection I had that I still, all these months later, have slightly more of tendency to cough than I did before, and I would probably have a full-on phlegmy hack if not for the THREE doctor’s visits I made after coming back to the US and probably 7 or 8 different medications ingested over that course of time. The lesson? Thinking that a net cafe would be a safe place to sleep because it was cheap and had a small non smoking section was a bad idea.