TOKYO -- Cafes that ban talking are catching on with young Japanese. These silent cafes, which ban chatting at certain hours or all day, are popular with people in their 20s and 30s. Customers say they are more relaxing than major coffee shop chains. Their popularity harks back to Tokyo's famous jazz cafes of the 1960s to 1970s, where young people gathered to listen to music quietly.
It is a Saturday night in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. But at Cafe Keshipearl, few appear ready for a night on the town. Around 15 customers sit in silence, reading or simply relaxing. All that can be heard is quiet background music, the grinding of coffee beans and the tick-tock of a clock. Cafe staff take orders in a whisper.
Manager Tatsuya Nishiyama came up with the idea three years ago. Nishiyama wanted to give customers the time and space to relax in an environment of mutual respect when he opened his cafe. However, as the number of customers grew, so did the volume. "The cafe became less relaxing for regular customers who came to enjoy quiet time," said Nishiyama. So he introduced the shizu cafe system. Through word of mouth, more and more customers started arriving to enjoy coffee in quiet.
People use notebooks to communicate at R-za Dokushokan in Tokyo:
Customers spend time reading and studying at Cafe Keshipearl in Kobe: