The lights turned green, and it was on!
The swarms that had built up on all sides of the intersection rushed across the street on cue. It’s a mad scramble, a perfect example of organized chaos. With a camera in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, I had a good view of it in action from the second floor of a nearby Starbucks store. It has been dubbed The World’s Busiest Intersection, although I’m not sure if there are actual numbers to back it up
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Shibuya Crossing. It’s just an intersection, for crying out loud. But there I was, braving to cross the street with and against a sea of humanity, and like a child, crossing some more for good measure. I
credit blame two things: curiosity and hype. The media has pimped this as a tourist spot tirelessly. The Amazing Race has made it a venue for their challenges — even silly ones like catching the roaming vending machine — a couple of times.
At the Shibuya Crossing, traffic lights turn red in all directions at the same time, prompting pedestrians to surge to the opposite side all at once. I had more fun seeing all the action from a distance than being in the middle of it. Most tourists stop halfway for a camwhoring moment only to cause unnecessary disturbance to the otherwise smooth traffic flow. The surrounding department stores make for good vantage points, but I heard that some prohibit photography. Your best bet is to enter Starbucks, order a cup of coffee, and pick a seat by the glass wall.
Upon emerging from Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit, I was drawn immediately to a thickening herd in one corner. Faithful dog Hachiko grabs all the attention in this part of Shibuya; tourists wait for their turn for a selfie with the famous loyal canine.
Hachiko was an Akita dog whose loyalty has been well-known around the globe. University of Tokyo Professor Hidesaburo Ueno took him in as a pet in 1924. For many months they had developed a friendship and built a routine: Hachiko waited for the professor at Shibuya Station at the exact same time at the end of the day. It went on until one day in May 1925 when the professor did not come. He had died after a cerebral hemorrhage.
For the next nine years, Hachiko continued to return to the same spot to wait for his human friend, getting the attention of the passersby who grew curious of his presence. A morning paper article about him (published in October 1932 on Asahi Shimbun) touched the hearts of many commuters, some even bringing him food.
Hachiko was immortalized in the form of a bronze statue, erected at Shibuya Station in April 1934.
Shop and Dine District
Shibuya is a special ward in Tokyo, but also refers to the shopping area surrounding Shibuya Station. It is a favorite hangout for many Japanese teens and young adults, but not as youthful and vibrant as Harajuku. Like in many other shopping districts in the city, fashion staples like Forever 21 and H&M occupy several stories here. Restaurants, karaoke places, and izakaya (Japanese pubs) flank many inner alleys.
Bragging rights, you’re a great motivator. At first glance (and even after more glances), Shibuya is not that different from other shopping districts like Shinjuku, but this white striped intersection made all the difference. It is quite hilarious to realize that it in many cases, it is the crowd crossing the street that draws more crowds who want to see it in action.
How to get to Shibuya Crossing: Take the train to Shibuya Station and then use Hachiko Exit. Shibuya Crossing is that crowded intersection right in front of you when you come out of the station.