Known as one of the busiest intersections in the world, the famous Shibuya crossing was at the top of my Tokyo bucket list ever since I found out we would be spending seven days in Japan! Shibuya is one of the most famous bustling districts in all of Tokyo. In fact you could almost call it the Times Square of the East! It’s popular for shopping, entertainment and bright lights but more than that, it is famous for the busy intersection located just outside of Shibuya Station. In truth, you just can’t wander around the streets of Shibuya and not experience the organized chaos when crossing at the Shibuya Scramble!
Finding Shibuya Crossing
Finding the Shibuya crossing can be somewhat puzzling if you don’t know where you’re going and which side you’re coming from. In fact, we have been wandering around the streets of Shibuya for close to half an hour not realizing just how close we were to the crossing. Using Shibuya station as a reference point is great but, this station alone has both railways and subways which means your experience and ability to find the crossing will differ depending on what you use to get there and which direction you’re coming from. Most people take the Hachiko exit which leads out directly into Shibuya Crossing.
From Shinjuku Station to Shibuya Station: Take the Yamanote Line direct to Shibuya Station (11 minutes, ¥160)
From Tokyo Station to Shibuya Station: Take the Yamanote Line direct to Shibuya Station (24 minutes, ¥200)
Experience the madness
Imagine this… you’re standing at an intersection that has five different crossings from literally every direction. When the light turns red… literally every other light at the junction turns red too bringing everything to a halt. Traffic stops from all directions and suddenly pedestrians surge into the intersection from all directions. Yet no one bumps into you. No one even touches you. How is this possible? Everyone crosses and makes their way in whichever way they are heading. Suddenly everything clears out again, the cross-walk lights change as do the traffic lights making way for the cars to rush on through. It really is a moment of bizarre organized chaos.
Watch it from a distance
After you’ve experience just what it means walk through Shibuya crossing, head over to the Starbucks at Shibuya Tsutaya. The Starbucks is actually one of the best spots to view the scramble as it overlooks the crossing directly from above. The second floor has a seating area with a counter that stretches along the floor-to-ceiling windows making it the perfect place to grab a cappuccino, have some good conversation and watch the crossing from above.
Wander around Shibuya Crossing
After you have experienced the crossing from above, below and within, don’t just hop back onto a train and head to your hotel room. Take some time to explore the area around the intersection. Head over to Shibuya 109 for some shopping, find the famous Hachiko statue and grab some sushi!