From the huge glass window, it is possible to see the people around the corner, outside. They look at the small red-brick facade on the ground floor of the small building with curiosity. Without a doubt, the typewriter right next to the door draws attention. But it’s the blue posters pinned to it and the window that make people stop.
A coffee for you who are late on your text delivery deadline”, they say.
It is with this unusual proposal that the Manuscript Writing Cafe is making a name for itself in Tokyo and beyond.
Takuya Kawai, 52, is the creator of the space, which is located in the hip neighborhood of Koenji, one of the largest concentrations of artists and creative workers per square meter in the Japanese capital. Producer of TV and commercials, he fell in love with the small space where he created the café. The place has a retro western look and was once occupied by a watch shop and an Italian restaurant. “I thought it was interesting. Did it have the counter, the brick finish? I ended up renting it to use as a studio”, he says.
In space, Kawai received colleagues for filming and photo sessions until the pandemic and isolation came. “We have a license to work as a bar, too. But everything was closed. We had no way of making money,” he recalls. After a few months closed, the owner came up with the idea of renting the place for video editors to work. “It’s small here and editors need a big desk and equipment. It didn’t work out very well,” he says.
One day, Kawai started a Twitter thread to collect ideas of what to do with the place. According to him, there were many responses suggesting that he focus on the writers. Having enjoyed the conversation, Kawai continued using the social network to develop the concept of the space. In another thread, a tweet got out of hand.
I made several tweets. But in this one, I jokingly said that I would charge, in a very energetic way, from those who could not meet the deadlines”, he says with a laugh.
“It went viral,” he continues. Thus it came to the format of what gained the nickname Anti-Procrastination Café.
Commitment to the goal
Procrastinating is an art I honestly haven’t mastered. However, there are times when a story or article ends up taking a little longer to come out. So every now and then, I, who usually work from home, have the luxury of going to a coffee shop with my old war laptop. It turns out that these spaces usually have background music, which somehow distracts me. That’s why I was interested in getting to know the Manuscript Writing Cafe.
“In the beginning, we also had music,” says Kawai. “Customers began to say that it was in the way and I took it off”, he continues.
In fact, it makes a difference. Because it was used as a studio, the environment has good sound insulation, essential in the noisy corner where it is located. In addition, the light is cozy to the extent, without causing sleep. Even with most of the seats located on counters, the workspace is also comfortable and well thought out, with an adjustable laptop and cell phone holder. Water, teas and coffee are also available to customers, for free consumption.
As the space is popular, Kawai recommends booking in advance, which I did. But it is upon arrival at the café that the customer receives a kind of card on which he must write, in addition to personal information, the purpose of the day: how long he intends to stay and how many characters he intends to write.
I was also able to choose how often I wanted to be billed. I opted for a goal of 10,000 characters in two hours. I asked for the average billing level, every hour. The cafe charges 240 yen (about R$10) for every 30 minutes of use. A trifle by Japanese standards. However, it gets expensive if you don’t meet the goal by the end of the day at 7 pm. The fine can reach the equivalent of R$ 190. Therefore, the owner does not relieve.
“I’m really picky,” says Kawai, putting on an evil face worthy of children’s movie villains, an image that is only reinforced if we take into account that he holds Matchá, a dachshund, in his lap. Despite his cartoonish persona, he plays his part. With Japanese punctuality, Kawai arrived 60 minutes after I had sat down with a sign in my hand asking about the progress of the work. I told him I was halfway through and got a sweetie.
late of all luck
The cafe opened its doors in April this year and has had almost 600 customers. Most of them are creative professionals who need a little push to put their books and scripts on paper. One of them stuck in Kawai’s memory. “It was a boy who had to deliver a text for a contest. He arrived here just a few hours before the deadline”, he recalls. The situation was tense, but the young man managed.
He left here with just a few minutes to deliver the material to the post office, but he made it. I was glad I was able to help him,” he says.
Recently, a new type of customer has knocked on your door. “They are junior high school students. They asked me to do their homework here. As they are children, I charge cheaper. Nowadays, people have a lot of distractions at home. I think that’s why they prefer to do their homework. home here”, he says.
My schedule is running out, and although the text is flowing well, I realized that I had been a little too optimistic. There were less than five minutes to go and I still had 200 characters to go. I typed as fast as I could, but it didn’t work. Exactly 120 minutes later, Kawai was on my side. “What’s up?” he asked. He said it was very little left, less than 20 characters. He looked at me with a suspenseful look for a few seconds, extended his hand and was relieved and gave me another sweetie. Ufa!
“It’s the first time that a Latino reporter has come to report here,” he said. “Have the British, Germans already come? Only people from countries that are more, shall we say, closed and serious. You are free and spontaneous. I never imagined you would be interested in such a thing”, he says, out of nowhere.
I couldn’t help myself and burst out laughing in the middle of the space that should have been silent. Kawai has no idea how much the Brazilian knows about procrastination and fighting with deadlines. He doesn’t know the market he’s losing, the innocent.