What would you do if you could time travel? Who would you like to meet? Would you change something from your past?
These are the questions that we can find in “Finché il caffé è caldo” (in English ‘As long as the coffee is hot’) a novel by Japanese writer Toshikazu Kawaguchi.
The story, simple but intriguing, opens with Fumiko being left by her boyfriend. Invited to an anonymous cafeteria in Tokyo for a “serious conversation”, the woman thinks it is a proposal of marriage. On the contrary, the man, Goro, tells her that he intends to move, without her, to the United States.
Sad and lonely, Fumiko returns the following week to the same cafeteria. Despite the anonymous appearance, it soon emerges that it is a rather peculiar cafe. Situated in the city for more than a hundred years, it is at the center of a legend that, sitting in a specific chair, you can travel back in time. However, the time travel proposed by the cafeteria is not so simple to execute and “whatever you do, the present will not change anyway”, as Kazu Tokita, the waitress at the cafeteria, explains. There are in fact precise rules that anyone who wants to travel in time is required to follow.
Fumiko isn’t the only one who wants to use the chair. There is also Kotake, who hopes to recover the memories of her Alzheimer’s sick husband to better understand herself; Hirai, who wishes to heal the relationship with her sister and Kei, who wants to find the force to become a good mother.
To each of these characters, Toshikazu Kawaguchi dedicates a chapter, although the four different narratives are interconnected. All the protagonists are united by a pain that marked their lives, something that they would like to modify with all their might, in order to better live the present.
But if “one returns to the past or travels to the future, the present does not change anyway. And then the question arises: what sense has got that chair?”. In the course of the story it becomes clear that, even when we are allowed to travel back in time, it is not so much the past that matters, but the ability to face the present. So, little by little, these women become aware of the need to face their lives, to build a future worthy of living.