Tokyo’s famous themed cafes usually feature animals – cats, pigs, elephants. The vibe is fun and games. Quite unlike the latest addition which is all about work.
At a busy square in the city’s Koenji neighborhood is Tokyo’s newest pop-up cafe, called Manuscript Cafe, and it’s for those who have not only a writing project, but most importantly, a deadline. .
The mood is serious. A handful of customers sit at workstations glued to their computers, overseen by Takuya Kawai, the owner and chief enforcement officer.
Fees around $2.50 per hour get you fast Wi-Fi, an air-cooled computer stand, and your own kawaii. “I try not to hover,” he told correspondent Liz Palmer. “Not to put too much pressure on them, but I check on their progress every 30 minutes.”
Hiro Sekiguchi has come to write a lecture tomorrow. On his registration slip he asks to be checked every half hour (or you can say gently harassed).
Writers are procrastinators. Faced with a blank page (or more likely a blank screen nowadays), they’ll find a million ways to avoid landing at work. Well not here.
Kawai is making sure this along with Mr. Takahara, who is running to finish a manga cartoon.
“Your goal was 24 pages, how are you?” she has asked.
“Don’t worry,” Takahara replied. “I’m on the right track.”
In an un-described suburb with a constant roar of traffic, this place isn’t what you’d call charming, except for a wall of movie memorabilia and old tech in the bathroom.
But what really matters here is getting it done.
Part of the mystery, Hiro Sekiguchi says, is the lack of distraction. “I am comfortable working here. Not to mention focusing.
Greater Tokyo is the world’s most populous metropolitan area, so a quiet place to concentrate and away from the hustle and bustle of making is precious.
At 20 to 4 in the afternoon Mr. Oguchi has finished his project.
“Congratulations!” Palmer said. “How many hours did it take?”
“One and a half,” she replied.
“Why did you write better and focus better here?”
“I had a tight deadline,” Oguchi replied. “And of course, I was paying for it!”
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Edited by Randy Schmidt.