2006_5_mediapod1.jpgAccording to the New York Times, the new new in Tokyo is spending 8 to 10 hours in a tiny cubicle, binging on media:

ON a recent afternoon, at around 5:30, I visited the Gran Cyber Café in the Shinjuku neighborhood for the first time, to read e-mail and visit a news site or two. Checking in, I was assigned to pod 16-A.

I loved 16-A the instant I saw it. I closed the door, slipped into a low-slung leatherette seat and surveyed the all-you-can-eat tech feast, which includes VHS and DVD players, satellite and regular television on a Toshiba set, PlayStation 2, Lineage II and a Compaq computer loaded with software, all the relevant downloads and hyperspeedy Internet. In the nearby library were thousands of comic books, magazines and novels. On the desk was a menu of oddball snacks, like boiled egg curry and hot sandwich tuna.

The atmosphere is airless and hot, with a permanent cloud of cigarette smoke. Over all the effect is of a low-wattage, low-oxygen casino.

When I spoke to Japanese cultural critics about the Gran Cyber Cafés, most gave high-flown theoretical accounts of their appeal. But Takami Yasuda, a professor at the School of Informatics and Sciences at Nagoya University who writes about virtual reality, shrugged. "I do not know exactly why people, young guys in particular, love to stay in such a dark place," he said.

I don't know exactly why I stayed either. But 10 books, two DVD's, seven magazines, two newspapers and a video game later, I found that eight hours had elapsed.

As if that wasn't cool enough already, these super cyber cafes are also hot spots for making out and having sex! Where can we find someplace like this in New York? [Another good idea from our neighbors to the East: 7-11's in Japan are about to start selling canned oxygen-- perfect for helping you recover from that weekend bender in LES.]