Want to test your patience? Join the Line!

  • Waiting in line seems to be a big part of life in Japan. You must have noticed the lines and lines of people patiently waiting almost everywhere you go.
    It is common to wait in a line for 3-4 hours, maybe longer, in bigger cities like Tokyo, the wait is sometimes 5 hours or more on a weekend. So why do it? There are a few reasons.

    1. The longer the line the more delicious the food.

    Have you ever noticed that some restaurants have chairs outside for waiting customers? Well, this is a very good sign, and often reflects the reputation of the restaurant. Apparently it is a common thought among Japanese that if the line outside a restaurant or shop is long, then it must be the best quality or the food must be fantastic, something special, really worth the wait!

    2. Gaman, Gaman, Gaman!

    Japan can be a very patient society. You may have heard the saying “gamansuru” which means to be patient. The notion is to build your own personal endurance while waiting in these long lines so you will develop good patience. Next time you are in line, take a look at the people around you, I am sure everyone is waiting patiently for their turn with no fret or worry other than what item they are going to purchase, or what dish they are going to order. No matter how long the line is, everyone is patiently waiting- love it or hate it, that’s the line culture in Japan.

    3. Status

    It’s always nice to be a part of the new trend! Whatever it is, it’s nice to be able to say, “Yes, I know what you mean, I [share experience here]”. Or in some cases having the status of walking around with that bag with the new shop name on it, or having people look at you a certain way, associating you with that new trend, or famous restaurant. And sometimes it’s nice seeing people you know in the same line, waiting for the same thing. It makes a great conversation starter and somehow connects you to that experience.

    4. Meeting new people

    Standing in line, or sitting in line is a great way to meet new people. You are both waiting for the same thing, Why not be a social butterfly and strike up a conversation with someone? Japanese people can be quite friendly at times and though they may be a bit shy, they can be easy to talk to. The line culture brings people together, helps to nurture friendships, and more… Who knows where things might lead to?