Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Longest Line Ever

If you're on a student visa in Japan and don't want it to be canceled when you go to another country, you need to get a "re-entry permit". In order to get the re-entry permit I had to stand in a line that you won't even experience at Disneyland.

I got up early this morning to get to the immigration office, since I thought there might be a lot of people there because of the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threats. But I still got a shock when I got there and saw that it was packed with people waiting outside to even get to the lines inside. It's usually almost empty there.

I felt just like the women on the picture when I realized that the line were stretching all around the 
big building, and then it started raining. 

When I got to the back of the building, there was so much people that I thought I would never
make it today. It's also sad to see so many leave Japan, but since of this was a line for getting a permit for enter Japan again, they are all planning to come back.

Waiting for such a long time got me hungry so I went to a convenience store to buy food while a guy were holding my spot in the line. But it was another long line in the store... :P

And there was no point with standing in the line because all they had left in the store were potato chips and soda... The foretold "earthquake diet" had become reality! :(

They had just got a new issue of Men's Egg in the store, so I looked through that instead of lining
up for food. I really liked the style of Kiona(right) and Ryoma(left) in the Street Fashion section.
Kiona's hat... :)

After finally reaching the end of the line you had to wait for your papers to be taken care of.
While waiting, it started coming news about that radiation would reach Tokyo later that night,
so some people got a bit stressed out.

A foreign guy started to scream that everybody should calm down and be quiet. In this video you
can see the crazy amount of people that were waiting. Many wearing masks.

Most of the people were Chinese, but I also met a lot of Swedish people from my school in the line. My plane were going to Australia the next day. I had planned to go to the airport some hours before the departure, but people in the line said that I would never make it then, because the trains there might not even be running.

As soon as I got my re-entry permit I packed my things and left for the airport. But they were right, the trains out there weren't running. I had to take a pretty expensive taxi, but the taxi driver understood the hard situation and gave me a discount.

The Taxi driver had never been outside of Japan even though his job was to drive people to the airport. He seemed calm despite the situation and showed the small island where he was born on
his GPS.

Me: -"Do you think everything will be okey?"

Taxi driver: -"Things are okey in Tokyo now, but it will take a long time for places in northern Japan to get back to normal."

Me: -"This must be bad for Japan's economy."

Taxi driver: -"Oh, it's already horrible."

Ever since I got interested in Japanese culture, I've heard that their economy is bad, after the economic bubble burst in the end of 1989. But Japan has more money saved up than any other country in the world and doesn't owe anybody money. They also have more than ¥11 trillion($135 billion) still available for emergency support, used to help banks after the economic crisis 2008.

And people seems to have so much money in Japan, always shopping like there's no tomorrow.
But they might need that money now, because rebuilding all the destroyed houses will cost a lot and factories of companies like Sony, Toyota and Honda had to close for some days losing huge amounts.
The cost of shutdowns only at Toyota has been $74 million a day. 

But something positive is that the multibillion-dollar recovery program might jump start the countries economy, according to the article. Many young people feel motivated to help, and Japan has been through disasters before.

When I reached the airport in the night, it was clear that I wasn't the only one staying the night there. Many people had come to the airport without any flight tickets, fearing that they wouldn't be able to get there later.

Since everything was closed during the night at the airport, and people might not have been able to find food in stores, they gave out water and biscuits.

Seeing that made me feel like I was in a third-world country, and not Japan where they dress their dogs in brand clothing and give them birthday cakes.

In some interviews, Japanese people express more embarrassment than fear, about what has happened to their country. Other countries are afraid that Japan might be too proud to ask the world about enough aid.

There was people sleeping and checking the news everywhere, waiting for their flights.
Watching Korean drama was also very popular.

This guy slept in a Louis Vuitton blanket.

After news of a new explosion in a nuclear reactor, a lot of people put on masks and it was a pretty scary atmosphere. Here's a big family ready to get out.

Once I got up in the air I felt a big relief, but was of course also very worried for the people in Japan. 
I hope they will have managed to solve the nuclear crisis by April 4th when I come back. So much respect to the "Kamikaze-workers" on the nuclear plants that offer their lives to solve this situation.

I had a transit in Malaysia where they had a rain forest in the middle of the airport. I've never been
in one, so it was cool to at least experience a fake one.

Hopefully the nuclear radiation will never reach Australia, but there's other things you have to watch out for here. Like this huge crocodile shown in it's actual size on a poster in Melbourne's airport.

I'm in Sydney right now, where they just released iPad 2.

There's an enormous demand for it, and the most important parts are actually made
in Japanese factories that had to shut down, which might cause some trouble for Apple.

The line for getting an iPad 2 in Sidney was maybe even longer than the line in the Japanese immigration office for getting a re-entry permit. 

One street wasn't enough for it. At one part of the line you even had to cross the street to get over to the next part of the line. Some people in the front of the line said that they had been in line for 9 hours now...

Here's a video where I walk next to line, from the beginning to the end.
It felt like it was never going to end...

They had got thousands of iPad 2's, and the next day they were all sold out. They weren't sure
when they would get new ones.


  1. holy crap, I don't think i'll ever understand people's love for electronics and gagdets that would make them line up for hours > <
    good to know you got here safely~
    I hope you enjoy your time in Australia :)

  2. I love your entries so much. always so informative and NEVER boring (: those lines are INTENSE and I have nothing but respect for the people who stand all day in them haha I wouldn't be able to do it!!! >.< but I guess many people feel like they don't have a choice :/

    and the ipad line in sydney is crazy! I didn't even know they came out with an ipad 2! it must not be anywhere near to releasing in america >.< lol

  3. wow! those lines are so crazy, i watched a japanese movie once and was thinking if its even true the lines would get that long...and it is!

    wooo! your in Australia! hope you like it here >_<

  4. alycie:

    Hahaha yeah it's amazing what people will do for new gadgets...
    I was suprised since it's only a new version of an already existing product. I guess Apple got some great fans!

    Thank you!! Ah so you live in Australia?
    Is there any places you could recommend me to visit?

  5. エミリー❤:

    Thank you so much!! That's very nice to hear! ^^
    I was worried that people might be bored by this blog post, since it's so many pictures of lines with random people and facts about Japan's economy etc. But I'm really happy to hear that you found it interesting! =)

    I think it was a good thing that you could't see the whole line at first, otherwise I would probably have passed out... XD

    I think it was released in America before any other country, at least in Apple's flagship store in New York. But apperently the lines were crazy there too, so I guess it's sold out. Maybe that's why you haven't heard about it.

  6. ★ B E C K Y ベツキー★:

    Yeah lines in Japan often get really long!
    I guess one of the reasons is that there's so many people, and another reason is that when Japanese people see a line they're convinced that it must be leading to something good.

    Sometimes you can see two donut stores next to each other, and one of them got a really long line leading to it, while the other one is completely empty. Everybody wants to eat donuts from the popular one I guess.

    Thank you!! I already like it! Very nice people and lots of things to see and do! ^^

    I'm in Sydney for one more week before I go back to Japan. If you live anywhere close, it would be fun to meet if you have time!

    Take care!

  7. hurhur, yes I do~
    It really depends on what you wanna see..I'm generally not a touristy kinda person, but Taronga Zoo comes to my mind first LOL you can pat koalaaaas!
    I think it costs quite a bit and you probably have to hop on a ferry to get there, which is fun in itself~