Rumoured to be the busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya Crossing, also known as Shibuya Scramble, is like a giant beating heart, sending people in all directions with every light change. As Lonely Planet’s Tokyo guidebook describes it, nowhere else says ‘Welcome to Tokyo’ than this.
Hundreds of people – and at peak times said to be more than 1000 people – cross at a time, coming from all directions at once and yet still managing to dodge each other with a practised, nonchalant agility. Then, in the time that it take for the light to go from red to green again, all corners have replenished their stock of people. The intersection is most impressive after dark on a Friday or Saturday night, when the crowds pouring out of the station are dressed in their finest and neon-lit by the signs above. See all this on a rainy day and the colourful umbrellas will provide a whole different visual appeal.
We’d read that the best spot to watch this pedestrian spectacle was in the Starbucks that overlooks the crossing. This is popular with both visitors and Tokyoites alike, so it’s busy all day every day with everyone vying for a window seat. We managed to secure one and spent a few minutes enjoying the action below for the price of a drink.
While you’re at the crossing, check out the famous statue of Hachiko the Akita dog in the plaza in front of the station. Hachiko came to Shibuya Station every day to meet his owner, a professor, returning from work. The professor died in 1925, but Hachiko kept coming to the station until his own death 10 years late. The story won the heart of many Japanese and has been captured in a beautiful children’s book, Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog.