By 2pm yesterday I was in my 3rd coffee shop of the day. I need to get back to work soon: my heart and wallet can`t cope with this.
I can`t avoid them. Cheap chains cluster around the train stations in Tokyo. Regularly full, the crowds seem to come not craving coffee but a chance to sit down. As soon as they enter they are hunting down tables for their laptop or textbook, which they open up to study from and/or sleep on.
The atmosphere is like a pre-exam classroom with the students, a selection of random, any-age strangers, all absorbed in the printed word, the screen or page blocking out the world around them. I saw one staff member tell off a young lad twice for talking too loudly. The disturbance was less the volume of his voice than the incongruous excited tone of it.
“Listen sunshine, I hope you haven`t come in here to have fun,” I imagine she told him.
In some respects, it is probably a good job nobody comes for the coffee. It is frequently dreadful – heated ditch-water sprinkled with dust from the Nescafe factory floor. The caffeine content is so paltry as to barely register, a gentle tap on the shoulder not the much-needed kick up the arse.
Still, at least their pastries are quite nice.