A place where you can pay staff to look over your shoulder to help you stop procrastinating.
Earlier this month, we caught wind of a weird new cafe opening in Tokyo, and this time it had nothing to do with cats, housekeepers, or bathhouses.
This new cafe, called Genko Shippitsu Cafe (“Manuscript Writing Cafe”), is all about writing, and while you might quickly think, “Is there no writing-ready cafe ?” the drawcard here is that you have to be a writer on a deadline to enter, and additionally, the 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 deadlines, so our reporter PK 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 that there were plenty of other writers who also needed help getting motivated, as almost every seat inside was taken.
With no background music, and everyone immersed in their work, feverishly typing and staring at their laptop screens, there was no relaxed cafe-style vibe here. And that’s how the owners like it, because they want to create a sense of pressure to help keep even the laziest writers on track.
▼ Each workspace inside the cafe is equipped with its own power outlet.
Before you sit down, the staff will ask you to fill out a form to let them know your nickname, your songwriting goal, and the level of verbal pressure – “light”, “normal” or “hard” – that you would like when the staff performs its “progress check” on clients. PK’s writing goal was to complete an article in two hours, and to help him achieve that, he asked for “hard” pressure from the staff.
The article he would write would be the one you’re reading, which meant he had to take pictures, process them, and write the article in two hours – well, technically less than that now, as he’s been told had shown a table and the clock was now ticking for his visit.
So he decided to take his interior shots while grabbing a free drink from the self-service drinks counter, which was stocked with water, tea and coffee. Unlimited recharges are included in your tour, which is charged 150 yen ($1.20) per 30 minutes, but you won’t have much time to recharge if you’re on a tight deadline like PK
The moment he took his shots, PK felt he was now on track to complete his goal within the time limit, so he started to relax a bit. However, that’s when he looked at his laptop’s battery level and reached for his charger in his bag, only to realize he’d left it behind. office.
With only 64% battery left, PK now had even more incentive to finish his article on time, so he quickly uploaded photos from his camera and started writing. As he typed and watched the percentages slowly drop on his laptop’s battery, he began to sweat as the pressure of writing in an even tighter deadline than he had planned began to weigh on him.
It was then that he really began to feel the speed of time breathing down his neck. In fact, the sense of a presence looming behind him was so real that he turned around, and that’s when he saw a staff member standing there.
▼ ” You progress ? »
The question made PK hot under the collar. It was almost as if he and the other cafe customers were students and this member of staff was their strict teacher walking around from time to time to check everyone’s work.
PK mumbled a “Yes, thank you” calmly, as he decided to keep his worry about his ever-decreasing battery level to himself. The surprise progress check was just what PK needed to get the job done, and he began to process the images at high speed, selecting the best ones without wasting a second in indecisionand crushing the paragraphs with an ease that surprised him.
This burst of speed and concentration was fantastic, and it was all thanks to the pressurized environment in which he sat. Well, that and his worrying battery level, which was now threatening to crash in the next ten minutes or so.
Fortunately, all of these factors contributed to PK completes his writing goal and meets his deadline well within his self-imposed deadline. So when the staff came to hand out small snacks, they didn’t feel bad about treating themselves to a cookie. He had deserved it, after all.
At 150 yen for 30 minutes, with free drinks, snacks, Wi-Fi and electricity included – for those who don’t forget to bring their chargers – a visit to this cafe is an absolute bargain. The reason coffee can get by with so little profit, if any, is because it’s tied to a recording and broadcasting studio called Koenji Sankakuchitaiand the cafe is open on certain days when the studio is not in use.
It’s a great place for writers to focus on their work without any distractions, and if you find yourself working over lunch on a grumpy stomach, the staff are happy for you to bring your own lunch from home or have food delivered to the cafe via delivery companies. like Uber Eats.
You can even go to the convenience store across the street to bring back a bite to eat, as long as it’s in the time allotted to you. And although the staff won’t let you leave until you’ve met your deadline, don’t worry – they don’t retain customers after they closetherefore, you may leave after your deadline or before the 7:00 PM closing time, whichever comes first.
PK really enjoyed his visit to the Manuscript Writing Cafe, and one of the best things about it was the strange feeling of solidarity he felt with the other patrons, because he knew they were all feeling the pressure, just like him. So if you’re looking for a place to give you a boost to help you meet your writing deadlines, you should definitely stop by and give it a try.
Don’t forget to check the cafe’s opening hours here, as their schedule tends to change a bit, and if you’re looking for another neat place to write your masterpiece, you can always check out one of those optical illusion cafes.
Handwriting Cafe / 原稿執筆カフェ
Located in Koenji Sankakuchitai / 高円寺三角地帯
Address: Tokyo-to, Suginami-ku, Koenjikita 2-1-24
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[ Read in Japanese ]