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Catching Up

Dear Readers:

I'm sorry you've not heard from me in so long. I'm afraid that during my sojourn here, I may be less and less available to you.

On the one hand, I really don't want to blog from work. There's something about that which seems unprofessional, although a co-worker and I came to the opinion that it wouldn't be a problem if I got to the office early--an 8AM start, say--and blogged until work begins. Those of you who know how I function in the morning will thank me for not giving you my morning prose.

On the other hand, that leaves me with where I am now: a web-cafe in Ikebukuro, the district of Tokyo in which I am living. As one friend here said, "I think Shinjuku or Ginza are what the Japanese would like Tokyo to be, and Ikebukuro is what it is." I'll assess that statement a bit more later, but for now, let me describe me current surroundings.

I'm in SPACE CREATE SELF-ENTERTAINMENT CENTER (if one translates the name a little over-literally), one of a number of 'internet manga' cafe that dot the area. It's about 5AM, and I can see the sun starting to rise outside. (More on why I'm up so early later.) Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, you can pay $4.00/hour to sit in any of a number of booths: some are small cubicles (like the one I'm in presently) and some are fully-enclosed, with seats that lean back. But fully half of each floor is given over to shelves full of manga, DVDs, books, weekly magazines and other entertainment items. So if you don't want to use the internet connection you're paying for, it's a relatively expensive library of pop culture.

All of which means that because Tokyo's trains quit shortly after midnight, and a taxi-ride can cost you several hours of surf time, the internet-manga cafe have become a cheap place to sleep overnight whilst you wait for the subway to hum back to life. As I'm writing this, I'm surrounded by an entire symphony of snoring, wheezing, stretching, and other sounds of nighttime. Indeed, although an alarm-clock just went off a few booths down (and the bastard seems to keep hitting snooze, because that's the third time in half an hour), my cubicle is the only one from which any actual typing is coming.

More than that: I just got a nasty stare from a hungover, 40ish salaryman who was snoozing off Saturday's party. Apparently I didn't get the memo that the keyboard here is just for show.

Anyway, the entries above--which you'll probably read before this--are mostly about the events of the last few days. As I said, writing here will be intermittent, if only because I'm trying not to spend all my summer in a web cafe. But I'll try to give you the highlights.

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