Kissaten (Coffee Shops)
When you are thirsty, where are you going to get some drink? McDonald? A corner store? Or Starbucks (Yeah, I know lots of Americans go there just for a status symbol.)? Don’t worry. The Japanese do the same things too!
Only one difference – a big difference from Americans – is they go to Kissaten (Coffee Shops) when they are thirsty. Of course, most Kissaten in Japan serves a light meal (sometimes big lunches too!). But mainly the word, “Coffee Shops,” leterally tells you that the Japanese version of coffee shops are where people enjoy time, space, conversation with its proprietor, and coffee (and other drinks).
Your coffee is prepared for YOU by the owner of the shop and served in a tiny coffee cup. If you are to pay only for the cup of coffee, it’s quite expensive. Going to get a giant cup of coffee at McDonald makes you look a lot smarter for that purpose.
A little darker atmosphere makes you relax. No matter how long you may be there, nobody would kick you out. You can clearly tell you are welcome by the owner, starting what is going on these days (Some people, especially singles, go to their favorite coffee shops every single day!). The owner and you know each other very well (because he is a very good listener!). No need to explain much about how you feel. When you go to your favorite Kissaten, you will be “spiritually” healed. No kidding!
So, you will see a number of Kissaten in every block because everyone’s likes and dislikes are different. Some Kissaten plays only classic. Others jazz. Like that.
“Kissaten” is one of many “untranslatable words” into other languages, including English. I really miss my favorite Kissaten located in Osaka called “Pe Se.” You never understand what this means. Here is the story its owner told me personally:
“When I was about to name my Kissaten, I remembered what my papa (she called her husband papa) said to his infant niece one day long long time before. His niece happened to put something wrong into her mouth. When he found what she did, he told her to spit it out.” Literally, her husband said to his niece, “Pe Se (‘Pe’ means ‘spit out’ and ‘se’ is commanding ending in Kansai dialect).” The proprietor decided to adopt it as her new Kissaten’s name – “Pe Se.”