Monday, November 5, 2012

Won't Miss #2 - the herd mentality (reflection)

"Steakhouse Satou" (in Kichijoji) with a huge line of people. For years, this fairly average meat shop has gathered long lines because of word of mouth about the quality of the meatballs they make. Your granny's meatloaf is likely as good or better, but the herd must gather at the proper places.

I grew up in a rural area, and the only types of "herds" I ever encountered consisted of large bovines. I'm guessing the only way my town could have mustered up a crowd would have been for much of the population to show up at the same place at the same time. The way in which Japanese people tended to cluster about a popular place because it was popular with others was something with which I was pretty unfamiliar.

Since returning to the U.S., I have not experienced this sort of thing at all. However, to be fair, I'm pretty sure that part of the reason for that is that I'm in the suburbs most of the time and I think that, if I lived in a big city like New York or Los Angeles, I would certainly encounter places to which people flocked because of buzz.

That being said, I still feel that the way in which people flocked to something relatively pedestrian (like Krispy Kreme in its first year or the meat shop pictured above) was unusual and unusually annoying and I don't miss it.


  1. There is definitely some herding going on in NYC--Shake Shack is a good example. The one in Madison Square Park almost always has a line, but the burgers aren't that great (they're good, but not worth waiting an hour for). However, there's much less of that here than in Tokyo IMO.

  2. I live in Santa Maria, you can check the population on that. But even here we experience that mob mentality where the line goes out the door for new restaurants (Chipotle and Panda Express come to mind). Or when the new iphone comes out... I HAVE seen that. Oh and on freebie days; promotional get your free [insert high calorie, cheap food item here] on X day type thing.

    I hope this doesn't become a bigger trend :(

  3. Michael: Hi, and thanks for your comment! I haven't personally experienced the sort of thing you mention at Shake Shack, but I read a site called "Serious Eats" which mentions some pretty average burger joints in various parts of the country with huge lines. So, I have a secondhand awareness of such things, but not firsthand. That being said, I think you are right about it happening more in Tokyo. We saw long lines on a regular basis there (even in our immediate neighborhood) and see them very rarely here.

    Susietron: Oh, I had forgotten about the iPhone stuff (though, again, that happened in Japan, too), and am surprised about Chipotle and Panda Express lines. Really? People are lining up for fast food! That comes as a surprise! Thanks for your comment!


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