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April 1 marks the beginning of the new fiscal year in Japan, and this year it also marks a big change for Japan: the consumption tax jumped from 5% to 8% starting at midnight. With that hike on the horizon, many Japanese spend March 31 stocking up on daily necessities, making big purchases and otherwise trying to save a few yen.

Twitter user @TYudai snapped this picture at Shin-Yurigaoka station that day. The sign reads, “The wait from this point is 4 hours.” Can you guess what high-demand item these people were patiently waiting to get their hands on?

If you guessed designer bags, good guess, but WRONG! It wasn’t tickets to see Arashi or AKB48 either. These poor people were waiting in line to buy…their commuter passes.

To be fair, in Japan you can buy not just monthly, but half-yearly passes, so a 3% tax difference might actually add up to quite a bit if your commute is long. For example, a six-month pass from the aforementioned Shin-Yurigaoka, which is located in nearby Kanagawa, to the major hub of Shinjuku Station costs 58,430 yen or about US$600, so paying 5 percent tax rather than the 8 percent it is as of today is kind of a big deal.

Still, standing in line for so long for a train pass seems kind of sad to us, and online commenters agree.

“Idiots. Why didn’t they just buy it a couple of days in advance?”

“I thought they were lining up for a roller coaster or something.”

“It’s quite the spectacle to see so many people lined up and waiting patiently. I’ve always wondered why foreigners marvel at the Japanese ability to wait in line, but now I get it.”

Let’s hope that all those patient folk managed to get their pass before midnight!

Source and image: Hamster Sokuhou