The Shibuya Ward in Tokyo features, besides an abundance of fashionable and highly popular shops, trendy restaurants and absolutely overwhelming neon ads on the facades of the building complexes, also the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, the diagonal Shibuya Crossing just outside the station.
Ainnelise Niyvold Liundbye UPDATED: 03 JAN 2020
Passing by Shibuya Station we absolutely must get off the train to experience the famous crossing in person. We have an unforeseen challenge of getting out of the station through the right exit, the Hachiko Exit (Exit #8).
Shibuya Station is one of the major train stations in Tokyo, located between Ebisu and Harajuku on the western side of the circular Yamanote Line. The Shibuya hub serves over a handful railways and subway lines and provides therefore easy access to many other Tokyo stations and districts.
The Hachiko Exit is named after the iconic Hachiko dog statue and may be the most famous exit and meeting point in Japan. The Hachiko dog was said to be an extremely faithful dog waiting every day at Shibuya Station for its master to return from work – even after his death!
Anyway, coming out of the subway, the exit is not obvious to spot with the crowds around and it requires two tries! Finally identifying the Hachiko Exit, we immediately spot the spectacular crossing.
The zigzag crossing is the heart of the Shibuya shopping district with its immense offer of all kinds of products from the latest trendsetting clothes fashion to countless, advanced electronics products and geeky anime subculture.
Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo – right outside the station
Every time the signals change at the intersection, crowds of people move from all directions into the area of the five zebra crossings, while the cars are being held back by the red light. At the busiest moments during rush hour about 2,500 people step out simultaneously. We have read that, unbelievably enough, it is rare that two people bump into each other. Now we will get to see it for ourselves.
As it happens we stand at the Shibuya Crossing lining up with all the Japanese commuters coming from the station and looking at the increasing crowds on the other corners of the intersection. More and more people accumulate beside us. It is countdown … 3, 2, 1 ….and, ultimately, off we are in the myriad of people on the white zigzagging stripes.
At first sight it seems like an impossible challenge to cross the adversary group from the other side. It looks real massive. The crowd approaches the magnetic centre of the crossing from all directions, and then, I miraculously smoothly glide through the mass of agile Japanese pedestrians coming towards me. And so we all do without really knowing how it happens. Amazingly enough, I don’t even touch one single person!
I need to capture the scene by snapping a picture and get hold of my camera. For some seconds I turn my attention to the camera and make a few clicks … and then, all of a sudden, I frightfully realise that I have lost sight of the others. Busy Japanese people heading in all directions surround me densely, but it is short. Seconds later I spot the others again just a few metres away!
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