Updated: Sep 25, 2021
People-watch at the world’s busiest junction.
With 1,000–2,500 people passing through the intersection every two minutes, Shibuya Crossing is the busiest crossing in the world and has become synonymous with modern Japan. Ten lanes of traffic and five major crossings converge at this massive junction, resulting in pedestrians scrambling to cross in all directions, but everyone gets efficiently and smoothly to where they want to be.
The “Scramble,” as it’s therefore affectionately called, has been featured in countless hit films, magazines and international news broadcasts, making it one of Tokyo’s most recognisable sights and a must-see attraction. The neon-lit buildings that surround it feature TV screens and advertising signs, creating a buzz of light and sound, just like New York City’s Times Square.
Whether you want to cross the famous junction or watch others do so via one of the many shopping centres and cafes towering over it, no trip to Tokyo would be complete without a trip to the Scramble. One spot offering a great view is at Shibuya Station between the entrance to the JR lines and the Keio Inokashira Line. Another spot is from the QFront building, in Starbucks, which is one of the busiest branches in the world.
People-watching is the perfect way to appreciate the magnitude of the Scramble. When crossing, remember that busy times can be daunting for newcomers, especially small children, and be careful if you’re taking photos.
The surrounding area
Shibuya Crossing is situated in Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s most vibrant shopping and entertainment districts, which never seems to sleep.
Some of the biggest international fashion brands have a presence. It is also home to Shibuya109, a department store designed by globally renowned architect Minoru Takeyama (1934–1986) as a Fashion Community. It hosts small retail outlets that showcase the best of Japanese fashion.
There are also countless bars, restaurants and nightclubs, catering for all tastes, budgets and needs.
Hachiko, the unofficial mascot
Located mere steps from the Scramble is a bronze statue of Hachiko, the Akita dog immortalized as a symbol of loyalty and perseverance: two qualities greatly admired in Japanese culture.
Hachiko came to the capital with his owner, Eizaburo Ueno, a professor at The University of Tokyo. Every morning, he would walk to the station with his master and return in the evening for his return from work. One evening in 1925, Ueno never returned; he had suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage earlier that day. For the next 10 years, Hachiko returned to the station every morning and night in the hope his master would return.
The statue was created in memory of this amazing dog. Today, it is the main meeting point for those traveling to Shibuya to catch up with partners, friends and family.