New Trend: Mokushoku

Today was one of the days when I fled my apartment mid-morning because of all the noise next door. (No more complaints, promised!) I went to my favourite cafe nearby to get some writing done, as usual. But I arrived to a rather unusual setting.

I did mention that we’re in another “lockdown” until May 5, right? For my dear beloved that means that there are now two more tables for two (my favourites) that you can’t sit at because of social distancing. And the huge table that dominates the room and usually sits 12 people at least, if not more (never counted pre-Corona, honestly), has now only 6 chairs left, three on each side. No wonder they had to raise the prices (2 yen per cup of “Royal Milk Tea”, but it’s ’bout the principle.) Thankfully, I did find an empty spot, but on the table was a notice like this one:

(I recreated this at home because no smartphone to take pictures… but I carefully took down all the kanji and even tried to match the colors.) It says:

Silent Meal

Please cooperate with the silent meal. Conversations with meals pose a risk of infection. We recommend “silent meals” to prevent infection. Separate “conversation” and “meal” and refrain from “conversation without mask”.

Well, that’s definitely a new one! And it’s hilarious. Just think about it: How is it possible that speaking while having a meal is a bigger infection risk than a conversation without food? How much open mouthed do you need to eat to make this possible? And how come that if you’re such a sloppy eater you still have people who’d want to go out for lunch with you?

I can see this with babies, toddlers even, but this is not a daycare for kids. It’s a cafe for adults who like to step out every now and then and have a coffee and catch up with the papers. And most people who are coming are doing so alone because they study or read – I mean, that’s the whole point of a quiet book cafe… The mind boggles. I’m seriously wondering what else they’re coming up with next.

3 thoughts on “New Trend: Mokushoku

  1. Aren’t face mask a thing in Kyoto? I’d say that having a conversation while eating, which means necessarily without mask, is a bigger infection risk than having a conversation while wearing a mask.

    • And on second reading, I see that it is even mentioned explicitly: refrain from conversation without mask.

      • Well, masks are everywhere of course; people even wear them outside on their bicycles (which I continue to refuse).

        Of course you are right with differences of infection rates with/without masks. But it feels so arbitrary since it specifies meals only and not drinks – and trust me nobody slides masks up and down when having a coffee. Obviously, this is not the bookshop’s idea, it comes from somewhere above, and if it helps them stay open, so be it.

        Although, honestly, it would be much easier to simply order people to stay at home for four weeks. It’s an island, no tourists are allowed to enter, how difficult can it be? Look at New Zealand… I guess I’m just frustrated by all the new rules the government (?) is coming up with instead of doing the one thing that would really help.

        I shouldn’t complain too much though, we’re doing pretty good with 50.000 active cases overall, according to this page: https://covid19japan.com/ Unfortunately, 15,000 of them are in Osaka right now, which keeps people up here on the edge, understandably.

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