Biz Cafe was our internet home away from home in Kanazawa. Biz was right on the main drag of Kanazawa in the Katamachi entertainment district. Their deal was pretty hard to beat: if you buy one beverage of any kind, you can use the internet as long as you wait. Their machines were IBM ThinkPads running Windows-J, and you could hook up your own laptop as well.
There were a bunch of internet cafes in Kanazawa, but it was pretty hard to justify going anywhere other than Biz -- cheap, centrally located, and not generally busy in the mid-afternoon when we tended to go. Simon and I were the most frequent internetters, but everybody took a look at the web once in a while.
While there was a fair amount of internet access in Kanazawa, like Japan in general the culture was much more focused around keitai (cellphones) than around PCs. Everyone from high school through about age 50-55 has a keitai, and some middle school students have got them as well. Because of NTT DoCoMo's service, most of the information services (directions, reservations, etc.) we get from the Internet are accessed via DoCoMo in Japan.
We had a great time at Biz Cafe, but Eurocentres eventually added wireless access at the school, removing the primary reason we had for going there!
On the first or second day in Kanazawa, we were wandering around trying to decide what to do after coming out of Biz Cafe. We decided we wanted to get a drink or a coffee, but looked around for some Japanese-style place without luck. Someone suggested going to Starbuck's, and I rebelled. "I did not come to Japan to go drink at Starbucks!" Thus inspired, we went around the corner and picked the first likely-looking place -- which turned out to be the small bar called "Famille" ("family" in French). Thus began one of our Kanazawa rituals.
Famille was a small eating and drinking establishment. Since they didn't have English-language menus, we spent quite a bit of time on the first couple visits puzzling through the menu (thankfully, most things turned out to be written in Katakana, one of the phoenetic scripts, which a couple of us could read). They had a lot of foreign references (movie posters, kitsch) around the bar, and a good selection of imported beers as well as soft drinks and light food (including good French Fries!).
Soon Famille became a daily ritual for us. Although many folks would just order soft drinks, we did grab a beer there on occasion as well (except for Simon, who always grabbed a beer -- something about being Swiss :-). We tended to meet at Famille around 5pm, have one drink, and then head back to our homestay families.
Soon the master of Famille got to know us... not surprisingly, since we almost never saw another customer in the place. At first we attributed this to our being there at 5pm (a bit early for a small bar), but later we went in the evening and only once saw anyone else there.
My last night in Kanazawa, since we couldn't get into the Omichou sushi restaurant due to a private party, we decided to just try the food at Famille. It was fine (mostly omelettes of various sorts). Afterwards, we posed for our goodbye picture at right (which I heard via email really was goodbye -- people didn't keep going there after I left).
Since my trips to Kanazawa, it appears both Biz Cafe and Famille have closed, which is sad for us but not surprising. There's a cake shop named Famille on the west side of Kanazawa, but I don't think it's related.
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