One of the most recognizable places in Tokyo is the famous intersection in the Shibuya district. Thousands of people, hundreds of neon signs, hustle and bustle, noise – not everyone will like it, but everyone should see it!
Tokyo is a loud, glowing, colorful city. Attacking neon signs, loud music, thousands of people flowing with the current and noise from the street. This is how we imagined Tokyo before we flew there, and our imaginations were close to the truth. Of course, there are quiet places in the city, green park spaces or temples and chrams as places of reflection, but it is the noisy face of the city that stuck out more.
On the one hand, the city glows with a thousand colors, neon lights flicker, and it is difficult to hold a conversation in the cacophony of sounds, but on the other hand, this image is completely incompatible with a society that is so orderly, calm and closed in on itself. Japan is a country of contradictions, a culture so different from ours that we did not know or could not imagine before. That’s why it’s also worthwhile, in addition to parks, palaces, temples or chrams, to discover a Tokyo full of people – individuals who want to stand out from the crowd with their attire. People who hang out in the trendiest clubs, restaurants, the most expensive stores and niche boutiques.
All this can be seen right in the Shibuya district.
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If you want to see and feel for yourself what it’s like to make your way among thousands of other people through the busiest intersection then be sure to go to Shibuya. We were like this twice, during our first and second day in Tokyo.
It was this intersection that was modeled by the creators of a similar intersection in London (Oxford Circus). This famous pedestrian crossing is located just outside Shibuya Station and is unique for several reasons.
First, the green light comes on for all pedestrians at the same time. This means that whether you want to cross to the other side or to the opposite corner, as soon as the green light comes on you have the right to cross the intersection, albeit diagonally (this is also how the lanes on the street are painted). Secondly, the number of people crossing at each light change is astonishing – it’s up to 3,000 people, and half a million a day [source]! Astonishing in all this is that people do not bump into each other, do not trip over each other, as if everyone has an innate ability to move in such a crowd.
Tourists immediately stand out at the intersection, posing in the middle and taking videos instead of focusing on crossing to the other side. We’ve also seen professional photo shoots where the entire team jumped out on the run at a green light and tried to capture models in the crosswalk.
If you want to view the spectacle from above, you can do so from Shibuya Station or from the storied Starbucks located right at the intersection. If you would like to see what it looks like in real life here is an online preview :)
…or you can see it on one of the many videos on You Tube:
The Shibuya intersection can also be seen in feature-length productions, and it’s not hard to find, as scenes from “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift,” “Between the Words” and “Resident Evil: Afterlife” were set here.
If we’re already talking about the Shibuya intersection, it’s essential to mention one of the most distinctive places in the area, which is the statue of an akita dog, located right at the entrance to the station – it’s here that young people heading out for a night out on the town socialize.
There is a story associated with Hachiko about the dog’s loyalty and faithfulness to man. Well, this dog used to walk his master to the station every day when he went to work and waited all day for his return. Unfortunately, one day the master did not return, and the dog waited for its master for another 10 years.
A sad story, but it lived to see its screen adaptation – “My Friend Hachiko,” 2009.
Shibuya is not just one intersection, a station and a dog statue. It is a huge shopping and entertainment center where the younger generation of Japanese meet and spend their free time. There are stores, boutiques, restaurants, clubs and the nightlife is booming at its best. It is a miracle not to go deaf and blind.
Here you will find stores with fancy clothes, from local designers as well as Western chain stores. There are large-format, big-box stores or tiny, pouched boutiques where you can find almost anything. And from everywhere we are constantly attacked by advertisements and billboards, which at first delight and later overwhelm us and take away the pleasure of walking in this district.
One of the many places to indulge yourself among the stores is Shibuya 109. The 10-story tall building offers about 100 boutiques. The parallel street is Center Gai, perhaps the most crowded, which has stores selling clothes, electronics but also clubs and bars.
A piece further west is the area with the most hotels of love, just in time after a tour on Shibuya ;) An entry on this topic is already being created, as we can’t leave you guessing that only Japanese people who party on Shibuya end up there ;)
We also can’t leave you with the feeling that if someone isn’t interested in industrial sights then there’s no reason to come to Shibuya. Notwithstanding. Tokyo’s most famous shintō chram, Meiji Jingu, is also located here, along with the adjacent Yoyogi Park ( we wrote more about this place here).
Shibuya is a unique district. If you want to see what Tokyo looks like in the evening, how young people spend their time, indulge in shopping, or just poke around the famous intersection then you should definitely come here.
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