If you’re not a frequent traveler or haven’t been to Tokyo before, you very well may heard of Shibuya (渋谷; or the Shibuya crossing, which Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation movie made famous. I’ve been dying to get lost in the chaos ever since I saw the movie and sure enough, as I discovered on a recent trip to Tokyo, the experience is as chaotic and puzzling as the movie depicts.
The intersection is famous because of its bustling traffic and the sheer volume of walkers who buzz past you on countless sides. Just outside the Shibuya subway station, you’ll exit and instantly be met with thousands of business commuters in white shirts, students, artists, shoppers and lovers. When the cars are in motion, your head is buzzing but even when they stop from the myriad of intersection’s red lights, people are flocking into this massive sprawling intersection from all sides, like bees going after the last honey.
It skews young although that doesn’t mean that the area doesn’t oodle with commuters of all ages given its strategic location. I was told to come here to shop…and to eat. Frankly, I found countless other restaurants that better served my palette in other districts of Tokyo, but for shopping and people watching, Shibuya is the place to be.
Conveniently located and central to other great shopping districts as well, Shibuya Square is in easy walking distance to both Omotesando and Harajuku which has far more stores than your wallet can handle. The billboards are as dizzying as the flocks of people and they have more two-story TVs than ten Best Buy’s combined.
Most of the action in Shibuya is in the hectic blocks to the northwest of the JR station however the best place to get oriented is the Hachikō (ハチ公) exit, which opens onto the five-way “scramble crossing” under that massive giant video screen you see in the photos of Shibuya everywhere. There’s also the Tokyu Plaza department store in the south and two major roads heading east from the station which continue on to Aoyama and Roppongi, which btw, has its own massive shopping mall, which I learned later in my trip, attracts the millenials.
This is a must do on your next trip to Tokyo if you haven’t done it already or if you have, I challenge you to discover something new in its overly colorful and overly cluttered maze.
Below is a video I shot of a local jazz performer playing in the street one night.
Take the JR Yamanote line to Shibuya station and get off at the Hachiko exit.