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Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Land of Japan

posted by on October 2 at 12:59 PM

A deadly fire in downtown Osaka!

A pre-dawn fire has killed at least 15 men and injured 10 others in a video rental shop in western Japan.

The fire broke out at about 0300 (1800 GMT Tuesday) and swept through the 32 rooms of the first-floor premises.

The business, in the city of Osaka, rented videos and DVDs and hired rooms where the customers could watch them.

Such shops are often used by workers who have missed the last train home, as they provide a cheap alternative to hotel rooms.

The store, called CATS, was on the first floor of a seven-storey building in downtown Osaka.

More than 100 firefighters and 40 fire engines tackled the blaze, which was extinguished in one and a half hours.

The Japanese Kyodo news agency quoted a 37-year-old customer who managed to escape as saying he had gone to CATS around 0100 after work in order to stay there overnight.

He said the layout of the establishment was “so complicated that customers who visited here for the first time may have found it difficult to escape”.

A customer could stay at CATS for up to 11 hours from 2300 at a cost of 1,500 yen ($14; 8).

The production of space in Japanese capitalism seems more intense and raw than the production of space in American capitalism.

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I stayed at a few places like that when I was going to school in Tokyo. Some of them have rooms that are more cubicle-like, without even a full ceiling, while others are more like individual, complete rooms. Nearly all of them have confusing layouts (especially for non-Japanese speaking foreigners like me).

But they are definitely cheaper than the hotels.

Posted by Ryan | October 2, 2008 1:44 PM

also worth noting, video rooms are often the refuge of the homeless in japan and i wouldn't be surprised to find out that the majority of deaths weren't salary men, but shoppingcart men.

Posted by josh b | October 2, 2008 4:19 PM

RE: "production of space" comment.
But that seems obvious.
The US has much more space than tiny, tiny Japan. Space scarcity would seem to be a major factor there.

Posted by treacle | October 2, 2008 5:46 PM

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