WATCH: Japanese people who live in Internet cafes because they can't afford apartments


Wow… it’s cool how looking at Japan is still like looking into the future. It’s just a lot more depressing now than it was in the 1980s.


Apartments in Japan were a fair bit cheaper than apartments in North American cities of comparable size when I was there. I wonder if onerous key money requirements have anything to do with this inability to afford (getting) an apartment.


Might rents vary by neighborhood?

I bet there are quite a few people who’s apartments are basically internet cafes.

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I couldn’t see this happening in the US.
1-there is no way that any city would allow ‘homeless’ take advantage of a standard rent avoidance hack
2-there is no way a business owner would permit icky homeless people stay overnight in a 'net cube abusing the TOS

There seems to be both a bigger homeless acceptance in Japan while also having such a rigid housing economy that so many need to go outside the legal confines.
It seems like homelessness is worse in Japan though persecution and prohibition of the basic things like sleep and waste elimination are used to punish those who can’t have a home in the US, not to mention car dwellers.


When I was visiting Japan in 2007, a gaijin acquaintance took me to a homeless encampment somewhere between Shibuya and Harajuku. It was among the more fascinating sights on my three week trip. He wanted to show us the street art and another side of Tokyo. But what I found was the encampment was an extremely well-organized shanty, accessible to the adjacent neighborhoods, with very friendly inhabitants. Perhaps they were shocked to see a group of Americans wandering through, but they were eager to chat and offer to share their happoshu. It had the feeling that they had been allowed to stay in this place for some time, undisturbed by the authorities, and allowed to set up their own community and shelters.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, compared to the United States, it all felt so humane.


If I recall correctly, social assistance for homeless people often stops at “Here’s a blue tarp, good luck.”

I suppose ignoring the issue of homelessness is a step up from criminalizing it, but I wouldn’t carry a torch for the Japanese model.


It’s not that most people can’t afford rent, it’s that the upfront costs of renting an apartment can be pretty steep. Between first month’s rent, deposit and “key” money, a lot of places will set you back 6 months work of rent. Not to victim blame, but part of the issue is the inability of some to save money, and living at manga kissa only exacerbates that. In recent years, a number of municipalities have begun offering up low interest loans to get people into permanent housing.


Its such a relief that someone else besides me can let the hype out of these “wow Japan” posts.

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This reminds me of Laney in William Gibson’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, when he’s living in a cardboard box in the Tokyo subway.

Doesn’t the inability of some people to save money stem from the fact that many workers don’t even earn enough money to be able to save? How is that their fault? In Australia, an unemployed person must burn through most of their their savings before they’re eligible for unemployment benefits. This almost guarantees that some people will never be able to save enough for a bond and first and last month’s rent.


This outlook seems to subtly correlate money with ability. Most seem to assume that earning and accumulating money is going to automatically be a goal for the average person. I am not saying this is good or bad - but just that there seem to be many implicit assumptions tied up in this.

Yes, why would I assume that people would prefer to be able to save enough to get some residential security instead of couch surfing or sleeping in their car (if they can afford a car).

But does “prefer to be able” really make sense of how people work? Sure, it can be a preference or an ability, but I don’t think these concepts can be assumed as directly related.

One might have the ability to deal with money (Yea! Maths!), but prefer to pursue security through actual survivalism rather than hoarding magical paper.

1989 called: capitalism, for better or worse, won.

I think you’ll find that a lot of things that people say kind of assume that we live in a capitalist society based upon money, and I don’t think they should have to make that assumption explicit every time they speak.


It doesn’t really matter. Money is a technology, and like any other tech, people cannot use it effectively if they take for granted what it is and how it works. Society is based upon people, and hiding behind our tech is merely a fiction which seems “convenient” and for only certain players, at that. Modern society is also largely based upon “computers” (whatever they are) - yet I don’t seem to get lots of emotional tirades in those posts asking me not to talk about how they work. Tools are tools. But when people tell me to shut up and use a tool without examining it - I call shenanigans.

And no, FWIW, even in 1989 there were quite a few non-capitalist cultures. I am not moving to 1989 and nobody is paying me to front for their disempowering memes. I think it’s outright creepy how people here encourage others to speak up about exploitive processes such as rape, fraud, and violence - yet something as fundamental as this gets tuned out and quite actively discouraged from discussion. It should hardly be controversial that things do not improve when how people think and talk about exploitation requires people to accept it as normal, rather than striving to educate and show healthier possibilities.

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Sure they can. People use all sorts of technology effectively even though they take it for granted and don’t ask how it works. And derailing a conversation about other things into your own personal crusades because they tangentially relate to that crusade isn’t that helpful, especially when you seque into that crusade by attacking the everyday assumptons of others instead of a engaging in a gentler and more approachable transition.

Well, for one thing you don’t seem to have an informed understanding of how money works (or how social services and the education system work). And if this were a thread about how money works, you wouldn’t be subject to these “emotional tirades.” Furthermore, nobody is telling you to shut up and use money without examining it: so far as I can tell, someone simply made the assumption that most people would like to be able to afford a fixed place to live, as opposed to living in an internet cafe. You chose to use this as an entry-point to your thoughts on the nature of money, which may be interesting but aren’t super relevant to this topic.

The main alternative to Western capitalism effectively fell in 1989.

Are you educating? Have you shown healthier possibilities? (Does a vague reference to “survivalism” actually mean anything?) Is money inherently exploitative?

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Uhuh. Meanwhile in the real world, where you and Glenn Beck don’t live…

And you tell me I am derailing? The problem, conversationally, is that whenever I make a passing remark in a topic, that people’s response to it grinds things to a halt. The very title of the topic sets things up with “because they can’t afford”, which outlines from the very start that the topic is about relationships between where people live, and their use of money. So, if I make a remark upon these things, how does this amount to a “personal crusade”? Since I have lived much of my life as a techno-nomad (although not in Japan), and with experience in squatting and rootless living, it seems natural enough that I’d have a perspective on this, and make a brief comment about it.

If I make some extended thesis about this, then I’ve derailed the topic. If I decline to, then I’ve talked out my ass for not addressing the questions. Is there some pressing reason why people could not just accept my initial dialog with Leah_Doner at face value and move on? If it were a topic about torture, and I made a remark that torture is unnecessary and a degrading affront to human dignity, would I expect condescending posts every time about how naive I must be in not knowing how much precedent there is for it? How dare I refute something that people actually do in the real world?

If pointing out that assumptions are precisely that - assumptions - constitutes an attack of all things, then you must assume that people have some extremely tender sensibilities! I consider attacks to be personal remarks…