At random times there are random long queues, 50-60 people, for a window store. No tables, no toilet, not even a door to go through, just a walk up window in the most random places.

This time we find a bench by the nearby shrine and observe the madness.

A pink brick facade with bold pink lettering and a neon pink sign of a cute pink kitten with a bow-tie holding a black ball. Most if not all of the people in queue are women, in their teens to late 20’s. They take selfies for social media in anticipation of their purchase. One girl is slowly eating a huge corn dog slathered in mustard and mayonnaise. High pitch voices, giggles and laughter fill the air. There’s no K-pop stars around, they’re not going into the shrine for praying, no priests for confessions.

What is this magical product they’re willing to wait 30+ minutes for?

There are two ordering stations on the steel counter at the walk-up window with one girl wearing a pink hat running the show. She takes the order, takes the payment, says the same script and moves onto the next customer. There’s a small opening on the white brick wall behind her. In between orders, ready products are placed on a small counter through this tiny opening, and she hands them to the customers. You can’t really see who is handing her the ready products. For all I know it’s a robot monkey making all these products. (And no wonder they’re worth lining up for!)

Customers take their purchase and move to the side of the store for more pictures with the pink colored brick and the cute pink kitten with a bow tie holding a black ball in the background, and brightly colored product in their hands.

Crop, edit, filter, post.

Vanity fulfilled, the tapioca milk bubble tea has done its job.

[ The Japanese calls these phenomenon “Insta-buy”: products that people buy simply because they look good online.]

Unfortunately we did not partake in this ritual and can’t confess to how the bubble tea tastes.

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