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Why I can’t read in cafés

Ever since Sunday, when I had my impulsive shopping spree for planners and stationary, I’ve been thinking about the exact reason as to why I find going to a café totally not enjoyable for me.

First of all here in Japan, I feel like the spacing inside cafés in general are really tight. Even with the pandemic and social distancing etiquette, it still feels claustrophobic for me. On Sunday evening when I went to Starbucks, first of all, the line was super long. I had a smooth time ordering my drink and snack, but while I was waiting for my order, this loud man with a very thick Middle Eastern accent, was trying to say something to the staff about his past order. He repeated himself over three times and was kind of making a scene. For a moment I got anxious because I wondered if he was going to start yelling.

Afterward, when I got to my table (that wobbled, btw), I just found myself unable to relax. I was just so keenly aware of all the people inside the café that I couldn’t even hear myself think. So I thought, if I had brought a book, there would’ve been noway for me to concentrate on actually reading.

While I drank my favorite white mocha, a pair of Filipinos sat right in front of me (man and woman) and I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation regarding watching TV/movies at home, and camera features. I peeked on the floor where the lady had a paper bag with a camera box that said Nikon D700. So, knowing knowing next to nothing about Nikons to be honest, I looked it up on my phone and thought it was nice that it was an older camera, like my T2i. It makes me happy whenever people use older cameras because that tells me they’re not after the latest and greatest, like I used to be.

Anyway, perhaps if the café wasn’t overly crowded like it was, maybe I would’ve had a different experience. But as an introvert, I think it wouldn’t have mattered. I love being in the comfort and safety of my own home, pandemic or not. And perhaps, if I had had company, the sensations of the environment wouldn’t have seemed so overwhelming. My company would’ve given me something to focus on so as to unfocus and blur out the background (camera pun?).

I still love cafés though, don’t get me wrong. I feel like it really just boils down to aesthetics again. It’s posh to be in a café. I think maybe the interior design of the café itself is a big point for me. For example, I love this particular one called Musashi No Mori. They have these very nice stalls/partitions, real wooden tables, and there are book shelves along the walls with nice soft music in the background. Not to mention, they have probably the best pancake soufflés ever.

Sigh. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to pick up a book lately. Instead, I’ve been watching Foundation on Apple TV and I love it. 🙂


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