Drink a cup of silencing coffee to Japan

A young woman sits alone in a café sipping tea and reading a book. She pauses briefly to scribble in a nearby notepad before showing her words to a passing café worker: “Where are the toilets please?”

This is a familiar scenario in Tokyo’s so-called “silent cafés”, spaces which appear at first glance to be conventional cafes but where customers are not allowed to speak, communicating instead by writing in notepads.

A growing number of “silent cafés” – with self-imposed chat bans – are opening across the capital, attracting a steady stream of solo Tokyoites keen to swap the pressure-cooker pace of urban life for solitary silence.

The concept taps into a rising desire among young Japanese to be alone, a situation fuelled by economic uncertainty, a shift in traditional family support structures and growing social isolation.

The desire to be solitary is not a new concept in Japan, a nation famously home to an estimated 3.6 million “hikikomori” – a more extreme example of social recluses who withdraw completely from society.







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