Although the hype was slow to infiltrate Japan, famous bubble tea shops have set up shop in Tokyo in the past few years, attracting steady streams of sweet tooth customers.
Popular bubble tea shops that you can find in Tokyo include The Alley Lujiaoxing and CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1600"] Image via Nakamura Mariko/Play Life[/caption]
More than just a tasty drink
Moeko Ohno, a representative director of a consulting firm that deals with workplace relationships, was so fascinated with the hype around bubble tea -- called "tapioca milk tea" in Japan -- that she looked into the reasons why people, especially the young, are obsessed with it.
Writing on Japan's leading business news media Tokyokeizai Online, Ohno acknowledged that while the hype has definitely got to do with how great tasting bubble tea is, there are some other underlying reasons as to its popularity.
Here are the reasons she gave.
1. People with little confidence in themselves buy bubble tea as they want to feel validated
Ohno said that for impressionable youngsters whose worldview might be limited to just their schools, the influence their peers wields over them is enormous.
And young people might not have found a sense of self yet, or be sufficiently confident in themselves, therefore, making it easy for them to be swayed by others, she said.
So, queuing up for bubble tea, just like what a whole bunch of other people are doing, allows them to gain confidence because they are engaging in an activity that the majority is involved with.
Therefore, "joining the queue is proof to oneself that his or her behaviour is not out of the norm," Ohno said.
For those who are doubtful, Ohno did clarify that she is not saying a person has no confidence if he or she buys a cup of bubble tea.
Rather, a lack of confidence is one of the factors that lead people to want to queue up to get a cup of bubble tea.
She added that with the prevalence of social media, people are prone to posting images of things that are trending at the moment, as they are then able to feel a sense of self-validation of sorts when they receive plenty of "likes" for their posts.
2. People get a sense of security from doing something that so many others are doing
In addition, Ohno said that by queuing up, people can get a sense of security from being part of the majority.
Also, she said that presently, people value individualism more, and there are less situations where people can get together as a team.
And this makes people long for a sense of connection to others, which can be found by joining the queue, she said.
According to Ohno, a great deal of the psychology behind buying bubble tea, at least for Japan -- a society that some would say is rather conformist -- is due to the desire to fit in with the majority and feel self-validated.
Who knew so much could be gleaned from the simple act of getting a tapioca pearl-filled milk tea drink.
Top image via MTRL
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