A Sinchon spot for making friends ― providing you speak JapaneseYou say that costly classes at language schools haven’t improved your Japanese conversation skills? Looking for a laid-back environment to practice your Japanese?
Then go to the Japanese cafe Kakehashi, which means “making friends” in Japanese.
While English-language membership cafes are common in Seoul, Kakehashi is one of just a few such places for learning Japanese.
Located in the heart of Sinchon, Kakehashi is open to all nationalities, but business is conducted in Japanese.
Although most patrons are in their 20s, the cafe staff say that a few men and women in their 50s and 60s have joined. Roughly half of the customers are Japanese. The remainder are from France, Canada, Australia and the United States.
Lee Young-jun, who majored in Japanese in college, opened the cafe in 1999, hoping to provide people with a relaxed atmosphere to experience Japanese culture as well as the language.
About 20 Japanese volunteers ― mostly language students studying Korean ― keep customers company, speaking to them in Japanese.
The 80,000 won ($67) annual membership includes Japanese classes every Monday evening led by a teacher from Japan.
Members also can borrow the Japanese comics, novels, magazines, music CDs and videos that line the cafe’s shelves.
Nonmembers can use the materials, too, but only in the cafe.
Social functions start at 7 p.m. every evening (except Mondays when classes are held). The functions are open to members and nonmembers.
Kakehashi is compact, so there isn’t a non-smoking area. The cafe is smoky most of the time. And leave your appetite at the door; Kakehashi only serves beverages.
Telephone: (02) 332-0505
Hours: 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Location: 53-12 Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun district
Web site: cafe.daum.net/kakehasi
by Park Eun-sil