Pancakes and Cigarettes

While wandering in Kyoto, my sister and I were in desperate need of coffee. We couldn’t understand the signs but we spotted a sign of a coffee cup above a narrow doorway.

Inside was a coffee shop that looked like something out of a Murakami novel. Smoke filled the air from the patrons’ cigarettes, adding an odd filter to the darkly lit room. A few men sat at the thin bar engrossed in their newspapers or books, ignoring their coffees. Unlike the busy road outside, the room seemed to step back a few notches in speed.

My sister and I settled at a booth near the front and ordered our coffee and a pancake. While we waited for our order, I noticed two very old women sitting against the wall and talking softly in Japanese. At one point one old woman gestured towards my sister and me, and the other one nodded solemnly. Feeling uncomfortable, I looked away. However I was fascinated by their age and the patterns that make up their lives. They most definitely were alive through World War II, and here they are, having seen all they’ve seen, now coming to their local coffee shop for an afternoon chat. And now my sister and I have become part of their story because I made one of the women gesture and the other one nod.

Illustration by my sister, Lauren Monaco.


Shoko said...

What a great post—and such a cool idea for a blog! Love this.

Main Street Corner said...

i love japan.

Alina Blazquez said...

Ha! loved it!