Our trip to Matsumoto was spontaneous to say the least. An awful job in a hostel made us want to get away from Jigokudani monkey park earlier than expected and a detour to one of Japan’s most famous castles was just too tempting. Before we knew it we were hitchhiking to Matsumoto with Mimi and Shin, the cutest Japanese couple in their seventies.
Our last minute plans meant that despite the 30-odd couch surfing requests we sent the night before, we had absolutely nowhere to sleep and a limited amount of cash in our pockets. Hotels were out of the question and even the backpacker’s hostel in Matsumoto was expensive, so we turned to the Japanese businessman’s favourite midnight haunt: the manga cafe!
What is a manga cafe / manga kissa?
A manga cafe (known as a manga kissa in Japan) is essentially a place where you can rent your own space and read the many comic books from the onsite library. Some compartments also have a computer, but what you really need to know is that these compartments are big and private enough to be a personal sleeping area.
Why we loved sleeping in a manga cafe
As there are two of us, we were able to rent a family room for the same price as 2 private booths. Our little ‘bedroom’ was complete with a television, a computer and some leatherette chairs which conveniently folded back into a make-shift mattress.
But enough about the room, because we have to tell you about all of the free drinks. Yes, we said FREE. If you can imagine the best all-you-can-drink buffet, it exists at a manga cafe. Soup, iced drinks, hot drinks, slushy drinks…you name it, they have it. Of course, the real budget travelers have already picked up on the fact that you could turn that free soup into a very cheap meal with a small loaf of bread from a convenience store 😉
How much does it cost?
The price of staying in a manga cafe depends on how long you want to stay. Below are the rates (including tax) for the cafe we stayed at:
4 hours: 990 yen
6 hours: 1550 yen
9 hours: 2060 yen
12 hours: 2580 yen
8 hour night package: 1650 yen
12 hour night package: 2160 yen
What you need to know about staying in a manga cafe
- Some cafes will require you to pay a membership fee. We got caught out by this, but the chain we used has other cafes all over Japan and we hope to put our membership to good use. It cost us 360 yen per person to register.
- You are not supposed to bring your own food. It depends on the manga cafe, but if they serve food they are unlikely to allow you to bring your own. That said, we don’t really see how they would know otherwise (unless you’re eating something stinky!).
- There is often a shower, but you will probably have to pay to use it.
- Blankets are not provided, but you can rent some at the front desk. Use your sleeping bag if you have one, and if you don’t, improvise with a travel towel like we did!
– You will be charged extra if you go over the time slot you booked. Our cafe charged 80 yen per 10 minutes or 270 yen for 30 minutes. So you know, make sure you set an alarm…
Overall we simply can’t wait for the next time we’re stranded somewhere and we have to spend the evening binge-watching our favourite TV shows and tasting all of the crazy Japanese drinks in a manga kissa!
We can’t wait to hear about your manga cafe experiences! Are you also a fan?