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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Immersed in Japan's media pods
Booth in Bagus Gran Cyber Cafe
There are now a total of 10 Bagus Gran Cyber Cafes
Media Immersion Pods - described as "drug dens for internet addicts" - are the latest craze occupying Japan's urban young.

The pods are small cubicles that can be rented out and contain DVDs, computer games, internet, manga comics, and food and drink. Richard Kimber from BBC World Service's Culture Shock programme tried one out at Bagus Gran Cyber Cafe in Tokyo.

I take my shoes off and slip in to my very own media pod in one of Tokyo's newest cybercafe complexes.

The small, makeshift booth is only about two square metres, but it feels like I've got enough technology in here to run a small country.

In front of me is a huge plasma screen, on which I can surf the internet at breakneck speed. If I pick up the TV remote I can watch channels from around the world, or choose from a huge selection of DVDs or computer games.

I can also listen to music on a huge pair of headphones. Or if that doesn't appeal, I can lounge out on the black, padded leather floor and read from a huge selection of Japanese comics and magazines.

There's enough food and drink to keep you going for hours.

"Perfect place"

My booth, number C4, is one of about 100 squeezed into the complex. Apart from the odd cough or opening of a door, it's a very tranquil environment - which is a key attraction to some of the clients here.

"I usually spend around three hours here - it kills time between work and going home," says one customer.

Bagus Gran Cyber Cafe
I'm not really looking forward to going back outside into the real world
"The best thing, is I can spend time by myself."

Another says that while she already has things like a DVD player and CD player at home, she likes the pods because "you can do anything you want".

"You can read manga, surf the internet - you can even take a nap in the afternoon," she adds.

And users of the booths point out that while the fashionable thing to do remains karaoke, the booths cost around the same and they find it to be a better experience.

"It's quiet and dark, and none of the staff will complain about you sleeping or staying the night," says one.

"The cafes are useful for people who live at home with their family, because if you go home, you're forced to spend time with them. But if you just want to use the internet and be alone, then this is the perfect place to come."

In my own media pod, my intentions to stay for only one hour have turned into three - and I'm not really looking forward to going back outside into the real world.

But since the cafe never closes - and with two more entire walls of DVDs and manga comics to get through - it's tempting to stay all night.




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