The Amazing and Baffling World of Nagoya’s Manga Cafes

ByBert Wishart
May 30, 2023

The Amazing and Baffling World of Nagoya’s Manga Cafes

Comic books are popular worldwide, but in Japan, reading manga is, for many, something akin to an obsession. Everyone reads manga, from little kids to fully grown adults, but it wasn’t always this way. “Manga” literally translates to “whimsical pictures.” The term was first used in 1798 in a book called “Shiji no Yukikai” [Four Seasons]. Later, the acclaimed ukiyo-e (fleeting world art) artist Hokusai used the term for the title of his book “Hokusai Manga.”

Nagoya, the Home of Manga Cafes

Skip forward almost two centuries, and the first manga café – known locally as manga kissa [short for kissaten, meaning cafe] – opened in 1978 in Nagoya. Initially, they were just a place to sit and read. Nowadays, manga cafes are a blend of coffee shops, internet cafes, libraries, and capsule hotels all rolled into one, and they are nationwide. The general deal is that you stump up about ¥300 for the first 30 minutes, but should you so wish, you can stay for an entire 24-hour stretch for about ¥4,000. And I know what you’re thinking, “That’s a bit pricy just to read a few comics,” but believe me, you get much more bang for your buck than just a lending library.

Not your average library

First and foremost, of course, the rationale behind a manga café is to read manga, usually following the yomi-houdai [all-you-can-read, or free read] concept, which means that for your hourly fee, should you so wish, you could spend your entire time scouring the thousands of magazines to your heart’s content. And this doesn’t only include the mainstream canon of Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto. No, there are all genres and all titles, and most places even stock specialized manga (and you can read into that precisely what you wish, pun very much intended).

So, perhaps right now you are imagining some heavily tomed library with leather chairs and broad oak tables, like those of the Ivy League American colleges that you see in the movies, with the ditzy cheerleader-type pounding the books to win the debate and prove that she’s no airhead? Or maybe instead, you are [picturing dozens of otaku [enthusiasts/nerds] with noses deep in comics? You couldn’t be more wrong if you were thinking of those somewhat convoluted scenes.

No, while some manga kissa do have open reading areas, depending on which option you plump for, you will either get your own private booth with a desk that includes a computer with a super-fast fiber connection, or you get a fully enclosed capsule with a futon mattress so that you can sprawl out and read your manga in pure comfort and lock your door that so that you can enjoy your reading in total silence. That’s if you want to read, of course.

Eat, drink, and watch telly (online)

As the Jesus Christ who lived and died in Japan (look it up, seriously) might have said, “Man cannot live on manga alone,” and so it is fortunate that many manga kissa have other activities for you to enjoy. First of all, there is the aforementioned PC upon which you cannot only scroll through social media but can also watch TV or anime movies, and the cafe generally has hundreds of DVDs that you can borrow (and yes, I know that DVDs aren’t a thing anymore, but you try telling Japan that!) 

There will generally be a drinks station with unlimited access (non-alcoholic, unfortunately). If you get peckish, there are usually vending machines selling all sorts of random food (while Japan may be behind in visual tech, they are super advanced in instant food technology), or they may have a microwave so that you can pop to the conbini [convenience store], pick up some grub, heat it, and dine in your booth in style. Furthermore, there are dedicated gaming computers, showers, printers, and copiers, and some places even have games such as karaoke, pool, and darts.

Manga Hotel?

And by now, you might be starting to think that manga kissa are beginning to sound a bit like hotel complexes, and if you were, then you’d be right. Having grown from simple cafes, today, manga kissa resemble hotels so closely that for many people, this has become their primary purpose. Visiting Tokyo but don’t have the cash to splash on The Hyatt? A 24-hour stay at ManBoo! in Shinjuku will set you back only ¥3,600. Or what if you’ve gone for a night out on the town, missed the last subway, and don’t have the stamina to stay out all night (a situation that, unfortunately, comes to us all in time, Gen-Zers)? A kissa is the perfect spot to while away those bleary hours before dawn.

Finding a Manga Kissa

There are Manga Kissa all over Nagoya. Here are a few to get you started.


There are a few Manboo around Nagoya. This one is near Nagoya Station, but see the website for others.

Where: Nagoya, Nakamura Ward, Tsubakicho, 15−28, Sun Meieki West Exit Building 5F (map)

Anettai Sakae Sumiyoshi

Where: Nagoya, Naka Ward, Sakae, 3 Chome−11−12 亜熱帯 (map)

Kaikatsu CLUB Nagoyanishikiten

Where: Nagoya, Naka Ward, Nishiki, 3 Chome−17−20 B&V Nagoya Building, 8F (map)


Images by Author Bert Wishart

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

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