JAPAN | Rainy Nights at Shibuya Crossing

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Waiting for the Green Light at Tokyo's Shibuya Crossing

The freezing night air blasted through the open gates of Shibuya Station. The weather had been sour through our whole day jaunt at Hakone and it remained the same when we returned to Tokyo. The rest of the guys wanted nothing but a bowl of ramen and the comfort of their soft hotel bed afterwards, but I was thinking of other things.

Walking in the Middle of the Road at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingMy mind is flashing images of multi-colored skyscrapers, swarms of chic Japanese citizens walking across a vast crossing and Blade Runner-esque neon Japanese billboards. I’m thinking of Tokyo’s famous Shibuya Crossing.

Suits and Backpack at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingFinding myself a buddy, we fumbled our way through Tokyo’s confusing subway system and found the famous crossing through guesswork. I was supposed to meet a friend in the area, someone who can at least guide us, but the torrential rain made her back out. We were on our own.

The Hachiko Statue at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingThe first thing that greeted us upon arriving at Shibuya was the sculpture of the equally famous Japanese dog, Hachiko. I haven’t really seen the movie yet, but they said that this was where the faithful dog has supposedly waited for his departed master until his own demise.

Rushing Through at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingIt felt giddy the first time the traffic lights turned green and we walked with the multitudes of clear umbrella-toting Japanese. Finally I’m seeing The Japan that I have in my mind. This is it! This is Japan! It can’t get more Japanese than this.

Smokes and Bikes at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingMy mind flashed a scene from one of my favorite movies of all time, Lost In Translation, and how one of the character felt overwhelmed by Shibuya’s Crossing. I was having the same elated feeling but it also got me thinking where they set their camera for the overhead shot.

Crowds at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingMy eyes scanned the area and found a Starbucks Coffee on the second storey of one of the buildings directly over the crossing. Jackpot. We immediately headed over to the café and surprisingly found it to be not-so-packed. Must be the dismal weather and the lateness of the hour.

Scramble Crossing at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingWe didn’t order any coffee, afraid of wasting time. We only have an excess of two hours before the last train leaves Shibuya to our hotel. I normally have no problem walking, I even computed the time it would take me to reach our hotel by foot, but an hour under a single-degree temperature on a rainy night with wet, soggy socks does not spell fun for me.

The Sidestreets of Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingOverhead shots done, we hunted for dinner. It has been hours since our last meal in Hakone and our stomach’s protests can no longer be ignored. Ramen was priority but we were having a hard time locating a not-so-expensive one with seats available. Plan B then; anything that looks delicious, is cheap and has free seats.

Looking for Dinner at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingRoaming the glitzy side streets of Shibuya, stopping and taking photos as we went along, we eventually found our query. There were only a few diners in the restaurant and the fares look interesting enough. More importantly, their prices looked reasonable too.

Ordering Food at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingAgain, with guesswork, we ordered through the machine located near the diner’s door, punching our orders and slipping in our Yens through a coin slot in exchange for a food stub. Success! We entered and presented our coupon for dinner.

My Dinner at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingThere were no English translations on their menu so we based our orders through pictures. It was rice topped with eggs and beef complimented by some sort of salad and a miso soup. Serving size was pretty huge and for ¥480.00, it wasn’t bad at all. In fact it was quite excellent!

Riding in Tandem at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingWith our tummies satiated, we headed back to the crossing. We planned to zigzag and cross the road with the Japanese people to our hearts delight. We’re touristy like that. Waiting in queue for the lights to turn green, I parted with my companion and let myself get lost with the crowd. Walking and stopping right in the middle of the road, soaking in Japan.

Transparent Umbrellas at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingI wish though that I have a transparent umbrella with me. My mind was whizzing away the whole time why umbrellas like those are a hit in Japan. The revelation came as I started walking through Shibuya. I kept looking up to see all the neon lights and all I kept seeing was the top of my blue umbrella. Then it hit me why, and I had since been muttering to myself why I didn’t get one too.

Green Light at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingCrossing a road is hardly any fun at all if you really think about it. Heck, I even know some people who dread it. But in Shibuya, when the lights turn green and the cars from all sides of the road stop. The most mundane thing in the world, crossing a street, becomes something special.

A Sculpture at Tokyo's Shibuya CrossingForgetting that I’m wet, tired and cold; I braced myself for the nth time, the lights were about to turn green again. And like a kid playing in the rain, my heart started pumping as I walked towards the heart of Shibuya one more time.

Japan Shibuya Location Map

Shibuya Crossing
Address: Near Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit, Tokyo, Japan

GPS Coordinates: 35.65952,139.70051
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here

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  1. awesome, ito yung mga nakaka kilig na moments as a traveller uung marating mo yung lugar na gustong gusto mo mapuntahan na dati sa libro or sa movies mo lang nakikita or nababasa...woot!

  2. how cute the umbrellas.. didn't see them so didn't get them :-(
    when i was there, i was wondering if those "crossers" are 24/7..
    yeah you're right, i am terrible afraid of crossing
    (try it along macapagal blvd) hahaa! but i crossed all the intersections
    around 10 times exaggg!!!! may dumaan pa nga na firetruck kaya bigla nag stop.
    maglagay kaya doon ng "PED XING"???

    1. Haha more than ten times talaga? But sabagay, I think kami rin haha :)

  3. You are a trooper! Rain, cold, confusing subway system and language difficulty did not deter you from exploring the city. I used to be like you but now, I'd rather stay in the comfort of my hotel room, watch TV or play with my computer while nursing a few drinks. Sad.

    1. Don't be sad Bert, it's just the way things progress I guess :)

  4. Resident Evil naalala ko haha! Pag nakapunta ako dyan dadalhin ko transparent umbrella ko. :D

  5. hi christian, ur Nippon travel trip was cool! so brave to go to Tokyo's Shibuya Crossing. have you ever been to the Himalayas? chk this out, looks quite interesting. from Oly

    1. Haven't been to the Himalayas, Oly! But of course I want to visit that place sometime in future too. This is the closest I've been to the Himalayas though :)


  6. Great photo's. It's a shame they have turned off the giant video billboard on the Starbucks building (Q-front) ie the one featured in Lost in Translation when the dinosaur walks across it. This has become quite iconic to the crossing so I really don't understand why they have taken it down. Perhaps it's due to the setsuden (energy saving) so they may even be replacing it with a more efficient LED screen. It certainly adds to the Blade Runner-esque experience as you noted above!

    1. Aww so that's where the dinosaur was! I was actually looking for that when I was at Shibuya! That's really too bad :(

  7. Naghanap sana kayo ng maid cafe para mabawasan ang lamig haha

    1. Haha no need, ang dami naman hot Japanese girls around Shibuya :D