The Japanese Net Cafe Refugees

Shiho Fukada has created a three part documentary portrait series which looks at different aspects of Japanese culture. These are:

Overworked to Suicide

After the recession of the 1990s, Japan's white collar salarymen increasingly must work arduous hours for fear of losing their jobs. This often leads to depression and suicide.

Net Cafe Refugees

Internet cafes have existed in Japan for over a decade, but in the mid 2000's, customers began using these spaces as living quarters. Internet cafe refugees are mostly temporary employees, their salary too low to rent their own apartments.

Dumping Ground

Kamagasaki, Osaka, Japan used to be a thriving day laborer's town. Today, it is home to approximately 25,000 unemployed and elderly men, many of whom are also homeless.

These documentaries provide us with another side to Japan, a society of extremes. Of particular interest to me was the story of the Net Cafe Refugees, a short 10-minute documentary about the world of 24-hour Internet-connected cubicles (manga-kissas) that serve as cheap living quarters for many Japanese living on the edge of society with little money. It is insightful and darkly dystopian in tone but a riveting watch.