A trip to the deadline cafe in Tokyo, where staff won’t let you leave until you’re done writing

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[Reading level: C1 – Advanced]

A place where you can pay staff to look over your shoulder to help you stop procrastinating.

 

Earlier this month, we got wind of a new weird cafe opening in Tokyo, and this time it had nothing to do with cats, maids or bathhouses.

 

This new cafe, called Genko Shippitsu Cafe (“Manuscript Writing Cafe”), is all about writing, and though you might be quick to think, “Isn’t any cafe primed for writing?” the drawcard here is that you have to be a writer on a deadline to enter, and what’s more, staff won’t let you leave until you meet your deadline.

 

As writers ourselves, we know how hard it can be to stay on track with tight turnarounds, so our reporter P.K. Sanjun stopped by the cafe to find out if paying staff to look over his shoulder would improve his concentration and writing speed.

 

When he arrived, he was surprised to find there were a lot of other writers in need of help with motivation too, as nearly every seat inside was taken.

 

With no background music playing, and everyone buried deep in their work, typing away feverishly and eyes locked on their laptop screens, there was no relaxed, cafe-style ambience here. And that’s the way the owners like it, as they want to create a sense of pressure to help keep even the laziest writers on track.

 

Before you’re seated, staff will ask you to fill out a form to let them know your nickname, your writing goal, and the amount of verbal pressure — “mild”, “normal” or “hard” — you’d like when staff perform their “progress check” on customers. P.K.’s writing goal was to finish one article in two hours, and to help him achieve this, he requested “hard” pressure from staff.

 

The article he would write would be this one you’re currently reading, which meant he had to take photos, process them, and write the article all within two hours — well, technically less than that now, as he’d been shown to a table and the clock was now ticking on his visit.

 

So, he decided to take his interior shots while grabbing a free drink from the self-serve drink counter, which was stocked with water, tea, and coffee. Unlimited refills are included in your visit, which is charged at 150 yen (US$1.20) per 30 minutes, but you won’t have a lot of time to refill if you’re on a tight deadline like P.K.

 

By the time he’d taken his photos, P.K. felt he was now well on his way to clearing his goal within the time limit so he began to relax a little. However, that’s when he glanced at the battery level on his laptop and reached in his bag for his charger, only to realise he’d left it at the office.

 

With only 64-percent battery life left, P.K. now had even more incentive to finish his article in time, so he quickly transferred the photos over from his camera and began writing. As he typed away, and watched the percentages slowly go down on his laptop battery, he began to sweat as the pressure of writing to an even tighter deadline than he’d planned for began to weigh down on him.

 

That’s when he really began to feel the speed of time breathing down his neck. In fact, the sense of a presence looming up behind him felt so real he turned around, and that’s when he saw a staff member standing there.

 

Are you progressing?

 

This burst of speed and concentration felt fantastic, and it was all thanks to the pressurised environment he was sitting in. Well, that and his worrisome battery level, which was now threatening to sputter out within the next ten minutes or so.

 

Thankfully, all these factors contributed to P.K. finishing his writing goal and meeting his deadline well within his self-imposed time limit. So when staff came around to hand out small snacks, he didn’t feel bad about treating himself to a biscuit. He’d earned it, after all.

 

At 150 yen for 30 minutes, with free drinks, snacks, Wi-Fi and power included — for those who remember to bring their chargers — a visit to this cafe is an absolute bargain. The reason why the cafe is able to get by on such little profit, if any, is because it’s attached to a recording and broadcasting studio called Koenji Sankakuchitai, and the cafe is open on select days when the studio isn’t being used.

 

It’s a great place for writers to concentrate on their work without any distractions, and if find yourself working through lunch on a grumbling belly, staff are happy for you to bring in your own lunch from home or get food delivered to the cafe via delivery companies like Uber Eats.

 

You can even pop out to the convenience store across the street to bring back a bite to eat, as long as it’s within your allotted time. And while staff won’t let you leave until you’ve met your deadline, don’t worry — they don’t keep customers back after they close, so you’ll be able to leave after your deadline or by the 7:00 p.m. closing time, whichever comes first.

 

P.K. thoroughly enjoyed his visit to the Manuscript Writing Cafe, and one of the best things about it was the strange sense of solidarity he felt with the other patrons, as he knew they were all feeling the pressure just like him. So if you’re looking for a place to give you a push to help you meet your writing deadlines, you should definitely stop by and give it a go.

 

Source: https://soranews24.com/2022/04/26/a-trip-to-the-deadline-cafe-in-tokyo-where-staff-wont-let-you-leave-until-youre-done-writing/

WORD BANK:

procrastinate /proʊˈkræs.tə.neɪt/ (v): trì hoãn

get wind of sth (idiom): biết về cái gì

weird /wɪrd/ [B2] (adj): kỳ lạ

prime /praɪm/ [C2] (adj): chủ yếu

drawcard /ˈdrɔːkɑːrd/ (n): thông tin thú vị, đặc điểm thú vị

stay on track (idiom): giữ tập trung

turnaround /ˈtɜːrnəraʊnd/ (n): thời gian

reporter /rɪˈpɔːr.t̬ɚ/ [B1] (n): phóng viên

concentration /ˌkɑːn.sənˈtreɪ.ʃən/ [B2] (n): sự tập trung

motivation /ˌmoʊ.t̬əˈveɪ.ʃən/ [B2] (n): động lực

bury /ˈberi/ (v): vùi, chôn

feverishly /ˈfiː.vər.ɪʃ.li/ (adv): hí hoáy

ambience /ˌɑːm.biˈɑːns/ (n): bầu không khí

progress /ˈprɑː.ɡres/ [B1] (n): tiến độ

currently /ˈkɝː.ənt.li/ [B2] (adv): hiện

technically /ˈtek.nɪ.kəl.i/ [C2] (adv): về mặt kỹ thuật

interior /ɪnˈtɪr.i.ɚ/ [B2] (n): bên trong

grab /ɡræb/ [B2] (v): lấy vội

charge /tʃɑːrdʒ/ [B1] (v): tính phí

glance /ɡlæns/ [B1] (v): liếc nhìn

incentive /ɪnˈsen.t̬ɪv/ [C2] (n): động lực

transfer /ˈtræns.fɝː/ [B1] (v): chuyển

presence /ˈprez.əns/ [B2] (n): sự hiện diện

patron /ˈpeɪ.trən/ (n): khách quen

collar /ˈkɑːlər/ (n): cổ áo

mumble /ˈmʌmbl/ (v): lầm bầm

indecision /ˌɪndɪˈsɪʒn/ (n): sự do dự

burst /bɝːst/ [B2] (v): bùng nổ

factor /ˈfæk.tɚ/ [B2] (n): yếu tố

contribute /kənˈtrɪb.juːt/ [B2] (v): góp phần

bargain /ˈbɑːr.ɡɪn/ [B1] (n): món hời

distraction /dɪˈstræk.ʃən/ [C1] (n): sự phân tâm

grumbling /ˈɡrʌmblɪŋ/ (adj): cồn cào

pop out (v): lao ra

solidarity /ˌsɑː.lɪˈder.ə.t̬i/ [C1] (n): đoàn kết

masterpiece /ˈmæs.tɚ.piːs/ [C2] (n): kiệt tác


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