Before the Coffee Gets Cold

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It’s a pleasant June raining. I’m sitting in my tiny garden, splash, splash, splash – replies the cloudburst. The cat also listens and smells fresh drops. Lobelia becomes even pinker. And in five minutes my bare feet are already warmed by joyful rays.

For a moment, a small Irish balcony mixes with Tokyo’s Funiculi Funicula cafe. Where the suzumushi cricket sings: quote quote quote and the clock is ticking ding dong. Then the waitress Kazu is filling the cap of coffee from a silver kettle for the next character who wants to go back to the past to meet someone close again. However, she/he must drink the coffee before it gets cold to return or she/he will turn into a ghost.

I came across Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s book by chance in an airport bookstore. I liked the cover and the title and the fact that it was written by a Japanese. Because I like reading about Japan.

The scenes here move very slowly and I had the impression that I was reading a theatre play. Imagine my surprise when I later found out that “Before the coffee gets cold” was first written as a theater play. Only later did the author make a novel out of it. And now more parts are coming. I’m enjoying the second volume right now.

This is the story of a unique cafe in the center of Tokyo, located in the basement, near the Jimbocho subway station. Guests of this coffee shop can move to the past and even to the future. However, they must return from it before their coffee gets cold. And although these visits will not change the present, but they often revise the hearts of the heroes. And also in the readers.

The writer emphasizes at every step usually details such as the tapping of the keys of the old cash register, the sound of the clock, or turning the page of the book. I find out that in Japan there are separate words for sounds: drip, drip, or tick, tick, and they are normally used in conversation. There are also words reflecting the brilliance of the sun’s rays and other such phenomena.

The characters of the book are ordinary people, coffee shops regular guests. But not all of them like coffee. Because the one served in Funicili Funicula is quite specific. Ground from mokka beans that grow in Yemen and Ethiopia and have quite a strong and sour taste.

Nagare, the owner of the cafe, brews them as a drip, and waitress Kazu prefers to make coffee in an espresso machine. I wonder how long the coffee gets to cool? – I wonder, but surely quite quickly, so travel time is only moments. Very important and so fleeting. Like those in our everyday life. The book takes us to these subtle moments with a nice lightness and we can imagine how precious they are.

From the gutter under the balcony pour a small stream, drops disappear from the glass railing, and for a moment my micro world is reflected in puddles. One stone I brought from the beach yesterday. In the meantime, I put the book down and go prepare lunch. When I”ll eat, I’ll pay attention to the sound: crunch, crunch.

“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

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