Why do Japanese People Wait in Such Long Queues? | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

Why do Japanese People Wait in Such Long Queues?

By Yae Feb 12, 2018

This post is also available in: Russian


When spending time in Japan, many of you may have already seen long queues of Japanese people everywhere.
Don’t you find it a little strange how people can just wait for such a long time in those queues (it feels like forever!), even in the winter season?
Many of you would rather go somewhere else as a second option, rather than waiting like a statue in the freezing cold.

But, wait a second.

What if there are some reasons that Japanese people can spend their time waiting for something? What if they think that it’s the most worthy thing to spend their time on?
This article will show you what are Japanese people thoughts behind their actions, making them wait for such long queues.
Hopefully, at the end of this article you’ll think “Ohhh, that makes sense!”


1.What’s the reason for Unconsciously Lining up in a Long Queue?



Why do people line up for a long queue, anyway?
Except those who need to line up for such things as banking, paperwork, or groceries shopping.Whatever you may need for living.

Some reasons for lining up are from the “unconscious minds” of people, such as:



1. The  “Bandwagon Effect”



The “Bandwagon effect” refers to the situation where everyone thinks that it’s something good and worth doing. Also, you start to think it’s valuable.
We believe this kind of action is a conforming behavior, and it’s a common saying in Japanese called “Bandwagon effect”.

For instance, imagine you’re browsing some SNS such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
When you’re browsing these SNS, and find someone’s post which has a lot of “Likes”, you may also be attracted to that post, and start to read the post while having the feeling that it’s good, and you also push the“Like! (me too!)” button,  to express you’re compliance or approval.
Have you ever experienced this situation before?


2. They think it’s worth it to achieve their goal.



To simply get what they want or to get something that might have a special meaning to that person, some Japanese people can patiently wait a long queue for a long time, even if it takes several hours.
They wait because they believe that after getting what they wanted they’ll feel the value of it. That’s why they don’t mind waiting a few minutes or even hours.

For instance, when you were a child and came home from school, many of us may have experienced the need to finish up your homework before your mom allowed you to go out to play or have snacks.
Even if you didn’t like doing your homework, you tryed to finish it as fast as possible because you wanted to get your “Special Treats” after, even though you knew that homework was a necessary, unavoidable task.

You see this “Clear motivation” makes people able to bear with it.


2.In what kind of Situations Do Japanese People Wait in Line?



So, in what specific situations can Japanese people wait in a queue for?
There are several reasons such as:


1. Popular and famous restaurants or spots announced by SNS or TV programs



According to the buzzwords-of-the-year-contest in 2017, the word “Instagenic”, what we call “INSTA-BAE” in Japanese received an award.
Many people are now heavy users of SNS, Instagram. People love taking pictures and posting them on Instagram.
To make pictures look more attractive and beautiful, people try to find a good spot to make it more “instagenic” such as a popular food, drinks, famous places, etc.

When Japanese people find instagenic pictures on SNS, this causes a chain reaction, since they want to take the same instagenic pictures by themselves as well.
Since people post mostly the pictures of famous and popular food, drinks or spots, Japanese people go to the same places to take the same pictures.
They can feel satisfied with fine dishes or good products after the long queue, as well as feeling they could take nice pictures, which is an amazing thing.


2.Limited edition products or foods which are “LAST BUY”



Many Japanese people love the word “Limited edition” or “Last buy” and many people try to get these items feeling they were a good buy or one of a kind.
For instance, there are some limited-edition situations such as follows:

1. Famous and popular sweets shops sell the seasonal limited special sweets for just 2 or 3 days.

We feel it’s a good deal since we can eat rare sweets that people can hardly ever eat.

2. Seasonal sales such as Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Sale for just 1 week.

It’s a rare chance to get a good deal on items, being easy on the wallet for people.

3. Handshake events with famous and popular artists, musicians, singers, actors, etc.

It’s not just a dream, but can actually meet the famous people you’ve idolized!

4. Visiting famous shrines during New Year’s to worship.

If you have the chance to go to shrines or temples which will bring you good luck, you don’t want to miss it.



Do you now see why Japanese people can bear with waiting in long queues?
Some of you may think lining up for a long queue is just a waste of time, meaningless or “time = money”(Especially in Japan…)!

However, many Japanese have their own aspects about what they wish for or desire.

They don’t want to give up, waste money on a second choice and regret it after.
They know that they’ll be satisfied after waiting in a long queue, even it takes hours since they can feel that “Patience is rewarded”.

Lining up for a long queue can be seen as “No experience is wasted” for those Japanese who can patiently wait, from different points of view.


If you find something that you don’t want to miss, how about trying to bear with line up for a long queue in Japan? “No pain no gain”, right?