Toyota, Hello Kitty and the Whopper

Sometimes a reporter feels like the fighter in a video game, throwing punches, kicking, twirling and jumping to take on several enemies from all sides, writing a story about Toyota reaching the one million mark on hybrid vehicle sales one minute, while writing a story about NEC Corp.’s Hello Kitty laptop the next minute.
Today I went to cover the opening of a Burger King restaurant.
A long line had formed outside the fast-food restaurant.
Where else but in Japan?
The Japanese business partners behind Burger King’s return to Japan are the same people behind Krispy Kreme.
They know how to attract media attention yet manage to put a talk-of-the-town spin on their stores.
That’s very important to attract the long lines, which in turn set off more talk and attract more people.
(1) Japanese have a greater tolerance for hourslong cues because they were brought up in a conformist-oriented rigid society that has required them to be one of the masses in a tiny place.
(2) Japanese assume mass interest is a good indicator for quality and desirability, rather than thinking that individuals may have different preferences.
(3) Japanese are afraid about being left out, and so ignorance or disinterest in something that draws long lines is by definition undesirable, dangerous and possibly a sign of derangement.
In Japan, being one of a crowd is (1) the way it is (2) a good thing (3) patriotic.
Being an individual is (1) weird (2) evil (3) not Japanese.
But Japanese are also having a lot of fun being in long lines. It is an event.
Guys were standing in lines at Burger King with their dates.
And the dates looked happy. They didn’t think their man was cheap or dumb, but rather an “oshare” jolly guy.
The stereotype about Japanese being subdued is hogwash _ at least among Whopper lovers.
Well-behaved expressiveness was rampant at the the trivia quiz show at the store opening.
What was Japan doing in 1957 when the Whopper was invented?
“Hai!” “Hai!” “Hai!”
It went on and on, and they each got a Burger King T-shirt.
Being part of a mass (at least a modern-day Japanese mass) is (1) fun (2) hip and so far, thank god, (3) innocent.