Coffee, tea and grumbling in a Japanese cafe to combat procrastination

TOKYO (Reuters) – Writers facing deadlines go to a “manuscript café” in Tokyo with an understanding – they can’t leave until their work is done.

Oh, and there’s a spur thrown in to make sure they hold up and finish.

The clean, well-lit place in western Tokyo has 10 seats reserved for writers, editors, manga artists, and anyone else grappling with the written word and deadlines. Unlimited, self-serve coffee and tea, and high-speed WiFi and docking ports are installed at every seat.

Clients enter, write their names, write down goals and the time they plan to finish. They can also order progress checks while they work, with “moderate” asking if they have finished with payment and “normal” hourly check-in.

Those who choose “hard” will feel the silent pressure from the employees who often stand behind them.

Owner Takuya Kawai, 52, and the writer himself, said he hopes the strict rules will help people focus.

Takuya Kawai, the owner of a manuscript writing café, displays a slip of paper on which customers write their goals.

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

“The cafe has gone viral on social media and people are saying the rules are intimidating or it looks like it’s being watched from behind,” said the sweet Kauai, displaying a board of customers who completed their assignments and left the cafe.

“But instead of watching, I’m here to support them…As a result what they thought would take a day was already completed in three hours, or tasks that would normally take three hours were done in one hour.”

The cafe charges 130 yen ($1.01) for the first 30 minutes and then 300 yen ($2.34) for each consecutive hour. Although a few people stayed past the official closing time, they all got their work done in the end.

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Emiko Sasaki, 37, a blogger, said she enjoyed the opportunity to be free from annoying social media and phone calls.

“It’s nice to be able to focus on writing,” she said, completing her goal of posting three blog articles in three hours.

The cafe, which was originally a live broadcasting venue, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, but Kauai is now hoping as word of mouth spreads about its new look.

“I don’t know what kind of work might be generated,” he said, “but I am proud to be able to give my support so that the things written here can be published for the whole world.”

Top photo: Clients work on their projects at a manuscript writing café in Tokyo, Japan, on April 21, 2022. Credit: KIM KYUNG-HOON / REUTERS.

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