Studying at the University of Tokyo is slightly different than at the University of Toronto. The main library shuts at 10pm all year round, and there are no twenty-four hour study spots on campus, not even during exam time. Moreover, all residences are located off campus. Hence, all students, on-res or off, have to consider their commute when deciding where and how long to study for. Of course, studying at home is an option, but for many people, myself included, there are often too many distractions at home to concentrate. Here are some of the places I go when I need to get work done.
- Local Café
A local café is a great place for studying. This is of course an obvious option in Canada, too. In Japan, there’s one catch: public Wi-Fi is rare. Starbucks doesn’t offer it, and, in my experience, neither do independent coffee shops. However, there is a simple workaround: cell phone tethering, i.e. connecting to a smartphone’s data plan on another device, is quick and affordable in Japan. Most smartphone plans here feature either large (3GB+) or unlimited data packages. When just downloading and reading articles, students can access high-speed (LTE) internet on the go, without incurring extra costs. Just keep an eye on how much data you’re using.
The famiresu, short for ‘family restaurant,’ is another favourite amongst university students. ‘Famiresu’ refers to a restaurant that offers cheap American-inspired food and drinks. The allure for most students is the ‘drink bar’ service that offers unlimited non-alcoholic drinks – most importantly coffee and tea – for about ¥300 ($3). Many of the larger chains, e.g. Gusto (ガスト) and Royal Host (ロイヤルホスト), are open twenty-four hours a day, making them a popular study location around exam season.
- Net Café
The final option is the net café, or manga-kissa. For about ¥200 ($2) per hour, net cafés offer a private booth featuring an office chair and a desktop computer. Like famiresu, they also feature unlimited non-alcoholic drinks. Depending on how long you plan on studying, this option can be more expensive than the first two. To a point, it also defeats the purpose of going out to study, insofar as it shuts you in a small booth similar to a dorm room. Nonetheless, some people swear by it.
These are just some of my study spots. Sometimes checking out a new location can lead to new inspiration. Or, at the very least, it’s a way to explore a new part of the city. If you have any questions or contributions, please comment below.