With the strange rule of “no talking” and an interior that makes you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time, the R-Za Reading Cafe in Koenji is a shop bursting with individuality that sets it apart from other cafes.
We talked to the owner of the cafe, Mr. Watanabe, about his reasons for choosing such strict rules and unique interior.
Cafe Rule: No Talking
Just 4 minutes walk down the shopping street outside of Koenji Station’s South exit, the retro-looking entrance of R-Za Reading Cafe beckoned us in. Near the door, at the bottom of the stairs a piece of paper reads:
“The R-Za Reading Cafe is a cafe where you can enjoy silence, so we ask you to politely refrain from talking, even in a whisper or small voice when entering the building. Thank you very much.”
We’ve never heard of a cafe that asks its customers to completely refrain from talking before, and we were intrigued to find out more. When ordering, we were allowed to speak in a whisper, making the whole situation feel as if we were telling a secret story to the staff. As the main feature of the cafe, the silence leaves a curious feeling.
A conversation notebook is provided
Speaking out loud may be prohibited, but that doesn’t mean customers cannot communicate, as we found a “handwriting book” prepared at the table where two people sit.
Peering into the notebook, we found previous conversations from past customers. Conversations are completely different when written down in a public notebook than what you would expect from social media on a mobile or computer screen. With some things obviously better left unsaid, or unwritten in this case, looking through the notebook left us feeling like we we're peeping into the lives of others.
Background of the “no talking” rule
“I thought it would be nice to have a quiet space in the city where you can read a book while drinking tea surrounded by trees.”
Mr. Watanabe told us that he used to enjoy going to a cottage in the forest to read books during his holidays. He decided to recreate his passion and to share it with others by opening up the refreshing and relaxing space at R-Za Reading Cafe.
Although the “no talking” rule is the main trait of the cafe, new visitors to the store aren’t often aware. There are various reactions to the unexpected rules, with some people laughing while others leave the store.
...... read the rest of the article on the grape Japan website: