As a result of an early October arson at the Cats Video Parlor in Osaka, which left 16 dead, the Kyoto branch and all branches nation wide have been ordered closed.
In a nutshell, what Cats offers is tiny rooms where you can watch DVDs--adult or non-adult--for pre-set periods of time. The room consists of a lazy-boy type reclining chair, the video player, and a place to hang your coat. For one hour the fee is 300 yen; the "nighter" course, from 11 pm - 10 am, costs 1,300 yen ($13).
As a result of this overnight option and its low cost, many homeless men--it's always men--and salarymen who miss the last train use these establishments as a cheap place to spend the night.
On October 1st, at the Namba branch in Osaka, an arsonist set fire to the building. Because of multiple fire code violations--lack of smoke control, working emergency lighting, and exits--the customers were trapped. Most died of smoke inhalation.
There was a typed sign on official Cats stationery in the window of the Kyoto branch apologizing and expressing profound regret for the incident.
When and if Cats will be able to reopen is unknown.
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Friday, November 14, 2008