Shibuya Crossing is the heart of Tokyo’s Shibuya district and one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world. It is a scramble crossing, an intersection of multiple streets where all traffic lights are paused to allow pedestrians to cross in several directions.
Ten streets come together outside Shibuya Station. When the traffic lights halt vehicular traffic, as many as 2,500 to 3,000 people at a time have about one minute to get to their destinations on the other side of the intersection. It is indeed a scramble with people crossing in all directions while bathed in the light of numerous neon signs on the surrounding buildings.
The crossing is next to Shibuya Station’s Hachikō Exit. Hachikō was the faithful companion of a professor at Tokyo University in the 1920s. He accompanied the professor to the station every morning and came back every evening to await his return. When the professor died at work, the famous Akita came back every day for nine years to await his deceased master.
Shibuya Station is one of the world’s busiest stations. The crossing is at its busiest on Friday and Saturday evenings before the station closes. A gigantic mural, The Myth of Tomorrow by Taro Okamoto, graces the walkway between the JR Yamanote and Keio Inokashira lines. The mural is comparable to Picasso’s Guernica in size and subject matter.
I visited Shibuya Crossing on a Shibuya free walking tour in August 2019. Walking tours are my favorites because of the slow pace, small size, and there are no mandatory stops for shopping. Plus walking tours are often free (small tips are appreciated) or have a nominal charge.
Shibuya is one of the more modern and fashionable areas of Tokyo, but there are also quiet yokochos (side streets) holding small izakaya restaurants and drinking establishments.
If you visit Tokyo be sure your itinerary includes a walk in Shibuya.