Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo. What can be a more unconventional sightseeing spot than a pedestrian crossing? Not to mention we’ve been to see it twice!
Shibuya is one of the main commercial areas of Tokyo. It houses two of the world’s busiest railway stations – Shinjuku Station (busiest in the world – handles on average, over 3.6 million passengers a day) and Shibuya Station (fourth busiest in the world – handles on average, over 2.4 million passengers a day). Shibuya Station is where one needs to alight to see the Shibuya Crossing, just outside the Hachiko entrance/exit gate.
As one exits, the old green train carriage cannot be missed. It’s a 5000 series Tokyu rail carriage, locally called the “Green Frog”. The train operated between Shibuya and Sakuragicho in the 1950s, right upto the 1980s. It serves as an information centre, with a pictorial display of old Tokyo. (The train was to be moved to a new location sometime in 2020.)
The Hachiko entrance/exit of Shibuya Station is so called, after Hachiko, a golden brown Japanese Akita dog, who lived in the area in the 1920-30s. Hachiko used to visit the station every day, to receive his master Professor Ueno, after work. He continued to do so even after the professor died, earning the love and respect of the local people. There is a lovely mural with many Hachikos outside the station, and also a statue that is a popular photo spot.
Another almost permanent fixture over the last 7-8 years has been the “Will you marry me?” gentleman. He stands at the bronze sculpture of the 6 little playful children, just around the Hachiko Statue. Looks like a nice guy, but his wait has been fairly long. Tokyo Times records his presence as far back as 2013 (we didn’t see him in 2012) and his own blog too!
With the heavy passenger traffic at Shibuya Station, it is not surprising that the Shibuya “Scramble” Crossing is the most busy pedestrian crossing in the world. There are 5 zebra crossings marked, and 10 lanes of traffic. The traffic signal cycle is for 2 minutes – 1 minute 15 seconds for the vehicles and 45 seconds for the walkers. And it works 24 hours. All the walkers cross at the same time, so at peak hours, as many as 2500 could be found crossing in all directions. We did the scramble a few times to get the feel.
The buildings at the crossing and immediate neighbourhood, house numerous restaurants, cafes, karaoke bars, night pubs. Not to mention hundreds of shops. With giant screens and neon lights this area is not to be missed. The Starbucks at Tsutaya building is said to be the busiest Starbucks outlet in the world.
Was wondering about the crowds at the crossing in relation to the present “social distancing”. Though miles away from Mumbai, one can see the crossing, the main shopping areas and Shibuya Station through a downward-looking camera placed over the main crossing area.
Here’s how it was at 18:19 local time this evening. Far fewer people than pre-Covid-19 days I would think, but life is going on.
Not sure when it would be possible for anyone to visit Japan in the near future, but you too can see Shibuya Crossing from your home. Just click http://www.sibch.tv/ and enjoy!