Chaotic calm! Yes, I know it sounds like a contradiction of terms. Nevertheless, it is how I see Tokyo’s famous Shibuya Crossing.
Shibuya Crossing may very well be Tokyo’s most recognisable place given its inclusion in travel documentaries, photographs and movies such as “Lost in Translation”. The popular vision of the crossing, where five roads intersect, is of crowds of people crossing in all directions. All the lights change at once and when the lights change to green it is like observing an old-fashioned infantry charge. However, rather than clash, the scene becomes one of chaotic calm. Pedestrians and cyclists plot their course from one side to the other, artfully avoiding each other in a demonstration of humans’ innate ability to move through crowded areas with a minimum of contact. Watching this human choreography unfold from a vantage point such as the Starbucks (pic 14) overlooking the intersection is wondrous and entertaining.
For those who like statistics, the adjoining Shibuya Station is the third busiest in the Tokyo metropolis, thus ensuring the constant supply of people crossing. At peak hour it is estimated that approximately 2500 cross at each cycle.
The action is round-the-clock given Shibuya’s popularity as an entertainment and shopping precinct, hence any visit to Tokyo should include at least one walk across this famous crossing.
In this post I have included a few of the traditional wide shots, but have mostly tried to show a sample of the individuals one encounters. Where have they come from? Where are they going? Who are they meeting? Simple questions underscoring that each person in the frame is an individual story coming randomly together at a point in time. A random collection that will never again be repeated.
My first photo shows Hachiko’s statue – a famous Shibuya landmark and a popular meeting point. In brief, the statue commemorates the loyalty of a faithful dog to its owner, very similar to Edinburgh’s Greyfriar’s Bobby. Each morning, Hachiko would walk his owner (a college professor) to Shibuya Station and return each evening to greet his owner’s return. One day his owner did not return, which became the start of Hachiko’s long vigil of faithfully waiting for the impossible. Local traders and family members cared for him as best they could, but eventually he succumbed to age and the elements. This bittersweet story has been captured in the movie “Hachiko – A Dog’s Story” starring Richard Gere. Well worth a look!
The remaining photos are a small sample of whom you might see during a visit to Shibuya Crossing. If you see yourself in any of the pics, please let me know and I hope I caught you from a good angle haha.
(Please click on any of the following images for an enlarged view.)