Project Description

Husam Hilali – Coffee with Those You Can’t Meet Again



An article titled ‘Uncovering Truth Behind “Time-Traveling Café” Made Famous By Urban Legend’ has been published in a Japanese magazine a few years ago. The café’s name was Funiculi Funicula, and it opened in 1874, fourteen years before the commonly accepted date for the appearance of the modern café in Japan. At that time, coffee didn’t appeal to Japanese taste buds and it was certainly not thought of as something one drank for enjoyment – no wonder, considering it tasted like black, bitter water. Since its opening, the café has always had the same interior, a counter with just three seats, as well as three two-seated tables. It only takes nine customers to fill the place.

According to the article, the café had become famous for long queues each day due to the time-travelling. Still it was impossible to find anyone who had actually gone back in time, because of the extremely annoying rules that had to be followed:

  •  The only people you can meet while in the past are those who have visited the café.
  •  There is nothing you can do while in the past that will change the present.
  •  There is only one seat in the café that allows you to travel back in time,
    but you can’t force the person who occupies it to move away unless s/he leaves it voluntarily.
  •  The moment you go back in time, you can’t leave the seat.
  •  The time-travelling is strictly limited. It starts with the moment your coffee is ready; to come back to the present you have to drink it all before it gets cold.
  • If the coffee gets cold before you finish it, you will turn into a ghost.

Since the author of the article was unable to find anyone who had actually visited the past, whether it was actually possible to go back in time remained a mystery. Even supposing it was possible, the rigid rule of not being able to change the present certainly defeats the purpose of going back and made the whole idea seem pointless.


For your information, it takes 10 to 30 minutes for a hot cup of coffee to cool down to room temperature. This depends on a few factors like: How big the cup is, the material it is made of, how hot the coffee is initially, and what the room temperature is.


However, you don’t need to be in Tokyo to make use of this score that doesn’t offer you any actual time-travelling experience. Instead, you will need four or more of the following requirements for an experience close-enough to time-travelling:

A.   A good memory (optional).

B.   A pen and a piece of paper.

C.   A hot cup of coffee.

D.   A recording device/app.

E.   An old photo album, or…

F.   A social media/messaging app account. In case you are an old-fashioned person,
a phone book or the contact list of your mobile phone will serve the same purpose.


Make a cup of your favorite kind of coffee but don’t take a sip until you reach instruction 4.
If you are not a coffee drinker please take the extra mile and try to drink it only for the purpose of this score.
Be aware of the necessity of drinking from a hot cup. Ice coffee is not allowed.

If you chose E from Needs, look at the photos one by one.
And if you chose F, go to the friends/contact list and scroll through it name by name.

Count any people who passed away while you still have their photos or contacts. Choose the closest ones to you and write down their names (If you chose B).
People you have known for a long time, like family members, partners, childhood friends, colleagues, or neighbors.
If you don’t find any dead people in your material that means you are rather lucky or too young to continue this score.

Imagine that you and one of the deceased once visited Tokyo together or even lived there. One day, you went for a coffee at Funiculi Funicula. Regardless of what happened back then, you are now going there alone trying to travel back in time to see that person again for a quick chat. This time without being obliged to the café’s rules. You are sitting inside waiting for the person who occupies the exact seat that allows people to travel in time to leave. Try recalling a lot of memories while answering the questions below.
If you chose C, don’t worry, the cup of coffee next to you has nothing to do with the time-travelling rules nor this scores’ instructions. You can start drinking it but you better not make noise when you take a sip since this is a bad habit anyway.

If you chose D, press RECORD and answer the following questions loudly for each name in your list of deceased.
It’s better to record separate audios for each person and pause between answers.


Recall your oldest memory with that person.
What did your relationship look like?
If the person wasn’t an older member of your family, do you remember how and when you first met?
Where was that and with whom?
Can you recall your first impression of thhem?
What was the weather like on that day?

In general, how does the memory of that person make you feel?
Is it happy, ordinary, or bad?

If you didn’t choose E, do you have any photo of the both of you together?
If yes, and it is available, it will be good to look at it while you are continuing recording.

Do you have strong feelings toward that person?
If yes, what are they?
How did you feel about him/her in the moment when that photo was taken, and did that feeling ever change?

Do you recall any bad memory with that person?
If your answer is no, jump to instruction 42,
but if your answer is yes, continue accordingly.

What was your worst memory with that person?
Where and when did it occur?
Do you remember what the weather was like that day?

Do you remember a bad thing you did or said to that person?
If yes, what was it and why did you do or say it?

Can you decide honestly whose fault it was?
You or the dead person’s?

Do you have the ability to move on?
Can you forget those bad memories?
Or do you always regret them?

Are you able to forgive and let go of past mistakes?
Or do you tend to favor revenge and think it’s a way to achieve justice?

If you answered instruction 12 with yes, do you think that person forgave you or was able to do so?

Now, after recalling all these memories while you are sitting in Funiculi Funicula café in your imaginary Tokyo, do you dare to sit down on the time-travelling seat if it’s vacant?
If yes, you will be able to meet that dead person again.
Do you have any last words to say to them which you never had the chance to say before?
What would you tell him/her?

If you chose D, press STOP, move to the next name in your list of deaths to do the same thing unless you got enough of this, and come back later to listen to the audio.
However, since Funiculi Funicula café seems to be fictional, you can always find a way to send the audio to the dead person’s inbox or to call their phone number, waiting for an answer.

If you chose C, enjoy your coffee.

Husam Hilali
Khartoum, Sudan / Dubai, UAE
16 December 2020

commissioned by 1000 Scores
supported by Martin Roth-Initiative

Dedicated to Yassir Abdallatif (1970 – 2020) the late Sudanese actor and theater-maker who passed away a day after I have been nominated to participate in 1000 Scores, and I definitely need one more cup of coffee with.

With thanks to Samreen Alkhair for the revision.