Around Tokyo: Internet, Laundry

You’ve been busy getting around Tokyo and embarking on culinary adventures, so you might need a little bit of time to relax.  Or maybe you need to email Mom and let her know that you’re doing OK.  Internet cafes are a great way to do both.

Finding a cafe might be the hardest part, because they’re usually advertised only in Japanese.  You’re looking for signs with the word インターネット.  They’ll look like something like this:

Internet cafe sign courtesy http://masa0718.iza.ne.jp/blog/entry/860546/ The 2F in the sign means that the cafe is on the second floor of that building.  Internet cafes are usually on higher floors, so keep your eyes open for signs hanging high on the sides of buildings.

This particular sign also has a price schedule laid out.  You pay for bits of time at a cafe, starting with smaller increments of 10 or 15 minutes.  Discounts are common for 3 or more hours.

When you enter a cafe, they’ll make a copy of your passport and give you a ticket attached to a little clipboard.  That clipboard is your tab, and it has your internet time logged on it as well as any snacks or anything else you purchase.  Take your clipboard to your booth, sit down, and let Mom know how well you’re getting along.

And don’t forget the drinks!  You’ll find a well-stocked soda bar near the front.  In Keyword English it’s called a “drink bar,” and while there’s no booze involved, it’s still a nice thing to relax with some coffee, or tea, or cocoa, or funky Japanese soda while you do your Internet thing.

You may see lots of manga (Japanese anime-style comic books) on the shelves, too.  They’re free to read, so take a look if you’re curious.  Just make sure you put the book back in the right spot.

When you’re done Internetting, drop off your drink cups at the appropriate spot and take your clipboard to the front to pay. 

All out of clean clothes?  That’s likely to happen when you follow the packing guide.  Fear not, because we came prepared for this possibility. 

A laundromat is called a “coin laundry” in Japanese, and after the accent it’ll sound more like “coin laundoree.” 

Japanese laundromat image courtesy http://stepper.naturum.ne.jp/e84696.html Your hotel’s front desk should be able to point you to the nearest coin laundry.  Take about 500 yen in coins, and laundry will be pretty straightforward.  A vending machine will sell you detergent (“soap” in Keyword English) and fabric softener.  Buying the smallest size of detergent will be fine.  The rest should be straightforward: clothes and “soap” go in the washing machine along with the required coins.  When that’s done, clothes go in the dryer.  You pay for small increments of dryer time, and I usually dry my clothes for 25 minutes.

I know that doing a mundane chore doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time in Japan, but there are two reasons why it’s a good idea to go for it:

1. It’s a great chance to unwind.  Tokyo’s a hectic place and chances are you’ll want to give your legs a rest for an hour or so while you munch on some convenience store snacks.
2. This actually saves you time.  That was the whole point of the one-bag packing trick.  Not having to check your luggage saves you from waiting forever at baggage claim and in the customs line.  Not all time savings are obvious.  Some are like ninjas – you don’t know they’re even there until they’ve already happened.

When you’re done laundering, you can just pack your bag right back up and go on your way!    

Now that you have some clean clothes, maybe you want to go find some fun things to do in Japan.  Or, you can get a lesson in Keyword English.