Come for the free rice balls, stay for the free ice cream.

Japan’s urban landscape is dotted with Internet cafes, but access to the Internet isn’t the only thing they offer. They also have massive libraries of print manga, making them a great way to quickly and cheaply catch up on back issues from a series you’ve fallen behind on or binge-read new ones that you’re interested in. Many Internet cafes also offer private booths with overnight packages that are far more affordable than a hotel or a taxi ride out to the suburbs, making them a one-night refuge for partiers and travelers who’ve missed the last train of the night.

But on our recent visit to a downtown Tokyo branch of Internet cafe Kaikatsu Club, we weren’t there to surf the web, read comics, or catch some Zs. We were there because the place offers an all-you-can-eat deal for one of Japan’s favorite foods.

Right at the entrance is a self-check-in terminal, with prices starting at just 346 yen (US$3.30) for 30 minutes. Once we’d taken care of that, we made our way inside and immediately saw what we came for: a whole counter covered with onigiri (rice balls)!

These aren’t offered for sale for an additional fee, either. Instead, they’re included as part of Kaikatsu Club’s standard usage fee. In other words, if you were coming in to use the facility anyway, you’re getting as many onigiri as you want for free.

▼ They even had two types to choose from: Tuna (on the left) and salmon (on the right).

Not every Kaikatsu Club branch is offering this service, but the one in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Kabuki-cho district, not far from Shinjuku Station, does (we’ve got a complete list of participating locations at the end of this article). At the Shinjuku Kabukicho location onigiri are put out four times a day (7 a.m., noon, and 6 and 9 p.m.), and you can have as many as you like. They do ask that you limit yourself to grabbing two at a time, and you also have to consume them on-site instead of taking them home with you.

We started off with one of each type, which we took back to our booth to eat. Each is individually wrapped, and about the size that would run you 130 yen or so at convenience stores.

The onigiri are made by professional food-prep staff and shipped to the Kaikatsu Club branch, so while there’s no pre-set limit to how many you can eat, there is a chance that they’ll eventually run out.

▼ The baskets after we got our first two onigiri

However, when we went back for a second serving, we saw that the employees had restocked the baskets, so it doesn’t look like you have to worry too much about the supply side of the deal.

With rice, fish, and seaweed, the onigiri made a healthy light meal. If your sweet tooth needs appeasing, though, you’ll be happy to know that certain branches, including Shinjuku Kabukicho, have self-serve ice cream machines, which, yes, are also included in the base price of your stay.

As mentioned above, a single convenience store onigiri is about 130 yen, and a soft-serve ice cream cone will cost you at least that much too. After putting away a few onigiri and polishing off our dessert, we actually came out ahead on our 30-minute, 346-yen stay, and next time we’re feeling hungry for a snack we know just where to go.

Participating all-you-can-eat Kaikatsu Club locations
● Onigiri put out at noon, 6 p.m., 9 p.m.
Hokkaido: Sapporo Tanuki Koji, Sapporo Tanuki Koji building 2, Susukino, Sapporo Station Minamiguchi
Tokyo: Ikebukur Higashiguchi Ekimae, Ikebukur Sunshine 60-dori, Ueno Hirokoji, Hachioji Honten
Aichi: Sakae Hirokoji, Nagoya Nishiki
Osaka: Namba Midosuji, Dotonbori, Nishi Umeda Sonezaki Shinchi
Hyogo: Sannomiya Station Nishiguchi
● Onigiri put out at 7 a.m., noon, 6 p.m., 9 p.m.
Tokyo: Shinjuku Kabukicho, Sinjuku Station Nishiguchi, Akasaka Mitsuke Ekimae
Aichi: Sakae Chojimachi

Related Kaikatsu Club Shinjuku Kabukicho, Kaikatsu Club location finder
Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]