Apple's new iPad went on sale in Tokyo on Friday. See also new iPad review

At the Apple Store in the upscale Ginza shopping district, several hundred lined up for the 8am launch.

Many in line said they were veterans of past Apple launches, and the event had a carnival atmosphere.

The first to get his hands on the new tablet was Ryo Watanabe, a university student. He bought a Wi-Fi 16GB version.

Watanabe said he waited 36 hours in front of the store to secure the first place in line, after being number 14 to buy the iPad 2 last year.

I am thrilled to be first, he said. I'm not necessarily a big fan of Apple the company, but I do like their products.

Preorders sold out in Japan and globally, with Apple's online store saying shipments will take 2 to 3 weeks.

But the company said it held a large number of the devices for customers that lined up on opening day.

Analysts have predicted the Apple will face a repeat of shortages it had with the iPad 2, in part because it will be difficult to manufacture enough of the new iPad's high resolution screen.

For IDG News Service in Tokyo, this is Jay Alabaster.