Actually, no. The pre-orders were orderly, and thankfully, not chaotic—like when the PS3 launched. At some stores, the lines were insane. At other stores, they were manageable. Combine the two, and you have a solid start for the PS Vita.
The above gallery breaks down stores in both Tokyo and Osaka. Things to keep in mind:
The Greater Tokyo Area has over 35 million people. Not that 35 million people live in Tokyo proper (they don't!)—there's only something like 12 million. That's 10 percent of the country's population right there.
On the other hand, the Greater Osaka Area has over 18 million people. Likewise, not all 18 million people live in Osaka City. The population of Osaka City is 2.6 million.
Thus, lines in Tokyo are bound to be longer than in Osaka. Lines in both cities will likely (but not necessarily) be longer than the rest of the country.
Also, not everyone lines up. Thanks to the magical internet, it's possible to pre-order online (amazing, I know!), and there have been reports of heavy traffic at retail sites after they opened for pre-orders. Amazon Japan apparently finished pre-orders only twenty minutes after starting them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Vita wasn't the only thing kicking off today. Several new toys from Bandai went on sale today as well as One Piece and Tiger & Bunny figures. Retailers had signs for both the Vita and the toys, and at many stores, the lines consisted of both customers.
One line I did not get to check out was the Yodobashi Camera in Osaka's Umeda, which typically can draw hundreds—over even over a thousand for hardware launches. By the time, I arrived, those waiting in line had been moved inside to wait. The security guard I spoke with had no idea how many were waiting. Though, I haven't heard any estimates, I would not be surprised if the line was in the hundreds. Big stores get more in stock and, thus, usually have bigger lines.
One line that Kotaku Japan wasn't completely able to check out was the Bic Camera in Tokyo's Yurakucho, where Sony held its official PS3 launch. The store, which was supposed to open at 10am, started pre-orders early. By the time Kotaku Japan arrived, there were 20 or 30 people lined up for Vita pre-orders. It's hard to judge how long the line originally was.
Generally, it is also hard to judge how hardware will do these days, especially with the advent of online pre-orders. I do think the PS Vita will be hard to come by when it launches on Dec. 17 in Japan—especially as Sony flogs the product more and more on television. If you haven't gotten a pre-order so far today, there still might be time.
According to Kotaku Japan, folks starting lining up in Akihabara last night. By 10pm, there were already fifty people or so waiting for Vita pre-orders at Yodobashi Camera.
By the morning, hundreds of people were waiting at the Akihabara Yodobashi Camera to pre-order the Vita. According to the Nikkei, there were 1,200 people waiting by 7am.
Not every store in Akihabara drew insane lines. At the nearby Sofmap in Akihabara, Kotaku Japan is reporting that a line of 30 people or were waiting at 7:30am this morning. The store would not be opening for a few hours, so the line most likely got longer.
At the Bic Camera in Osaka's Namba city center, there were about 20 people waiting at 7:15am. The line was for both the Vita and Bandai toys. The first guy in line was waiting for the Vita and he showed up at 5am.
This is a sign for both the Vita pre-orders as well as the new toys from Bandai. Customers for both products lined up in the same place.
In nearby Den-Den Town (Osaka's version of Akihabara), there was a Vita pre-order line at Sofmap that was about 25 or 30 people strong at 6:40am. It got longer as the store pushed towards opening. The first guy in line showed up at around 2am.
The huge Labi electronics store in Osaka's Namba appeared deserted. I asked a security guard—he's that blue dot in this photo—where the line for the PlayStation Vita was. He said he hadn't been told about a PlayStation Vita line and was carrying two signs.
The signs were for those lining up for the slew of toys, such as the One Piece and Tiger & Bunny. There was no mention of the Vita.
The nearby Toys R Us was completely deserted. This same Toys R Us saw lines when the Nintendo DS launched.