Tokyo’s “Manuscript Writing Cafe” compels writers to keep writing and not leave until their work is done. There’s even the added prodding factor to ensure that they finish their work.
The cafe in western Tokyo is clean and well-lit, with ten seats reserved for writers, editors, manga artists, and anybody else struggling to meet deadlines for written work. Coffee and tea are unlimited and self-serve, and there are high-speed Wi-Fi and docking ports installed at every seat.
Customers enter and write down their names, writing goals, and the time they plan to finish. They can also ask for progress checks as they work, with options like “mild,” where customers are asked if they have finished as they pay and “normal” being a check-in every hour.
People who choose the “hard” option will feel silent pressure from staff frequently standing behind them.
Owner Takuya Kawai, 52 and a writer, said he hoped the strict rules would help people focus.
“The cafe went viral on social media and people are saying the rules are scary or that it feels like being watched from behind,” Kawai said, displaying a board with the names of customers who completed their tasks and left.
“But actually, instead of monitoring, I’m here to support them … As a result, what they thought would take a day actually was completed in three hours, or tasks that usually take three hours were done in one.”
For the first 30 minutes, customers pay 130 yen ($1.01) and then 300 yen ($2.34) for every succeeding hour. A few people have stayed past the official closing time, but they all eventually finished their work.
Emiko Sasaki, a 37-year-old blog writer, said she relished the chance to be free of pesky social media and phone calls.
“It’s good to be able to concentrate on writing,” she said, completing her goal of three blog articles in three hours.
The cafe was originally a live streaming space and was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but Kawai is now hopeful as word of mouth spreads about its new format.
“I don’t know what kind of work might be born, but I’m proud to be able to offer my support so that things written here can be published to the whole world,” he said.
Opinions expressed by CEO Weekly contributors are their own.