The Synchronised Scramble Of Shibuya

Ten traffic lanes. Five pedestrian crosswalks. All converging onto the most iconic intersection in the world. An attraction in its own right.

When the lights change, traffic comes to a halt on ALL ten lanes. And this huge mass of people – an estimated 2500 at any given time, and a whopping 2+ million per day! – surge forward in every direction in the most polite and orderly ‘scramble’ you can imagine!Shibuya intersection, Tokyo
Shibuya, Tokyo
The spectacle of the Shibuya crossing (you might remember it from the movie “Lost in Translation”) is best witnessed from the upper floor of Starbucks in the Tsutaya building. But we decided to dive into the melee in search of a quieter cafe across the road. Along the way a pet shop seriously eroded our coffee break, much to my sister’s annoyance.

The trendy neighbourhood with its plethora of boutiques is a great place for people watching. As is the adjacent station. The plaza outside, named after a statue commemorating the undying loyalty of the Akita dog Hachiko, is reputed to be the favoured meeting spot for tourists and locals alike. (I confess to crying buckets over the tearjerker of the same name starring Richard Gere and an even more handsome Akita.)

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We spent the rest of the morning at the Shinto shrine of Meiji Jingu, where we shamelessly joined the ranks of gawping tourists around traditional weddings and the fascinating ritual of Shichi-go-san.

Later, a few of us continued on to Harajuku to witness another, and even greater convergence of humanity!

Harajuku, Tokyo
The virtually overflowing Takeshita Street – Harajuku, Tokyo

We miraculously managed to find a quiet place for a delicious sandwich and dessert, bang on that busy street, before hightailing it back to our hotel.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

52 thoughts on “The Synchronised Scramble Of Shibuya

    1. I found it rather boring at the time Jo. I must watch it again to see if the familiar seens up my enjoyment😊

  1. What a great idea to stop all the traffic at once. I can’t think of any other way this could work, though, with so many people crossing the intersection at one time. 🙂 Great photo gallery, Madhu. I love the children of the world sculpture.

    1. Thanks Sylvia. I think a number of big cities in the West have emulated the Shibuya model. Did you know this kind of intersection is called a ‘scramble’?

  2. I’m impressed with the orderliness of this intersection crossing, Madhu. Hanoi was a real challenge since there are few lights and pedestrian crossings. Your pictures depict a young, modern, hip culture in this huge metropolis. What fun you and your sister had.

    1. An intersection like this would be utterly chaotic anywhere else in South Asia!!😃

      It was a fun trip Lynne. But I do want to return with R for a more leisurely visit.

    1. I don’t particularly remember liking the movie Ian. I should watch it again. You were fortunate to have got to see so much of the world through your work.

  3. Oh dear! I do quite well remember my layovers in Tokyo (after we spend the nights in Narita, which was quite less expensive)… I don’t know how may times I flew to Tokyo during these13 yrs! When we had two or tree nights stop, I’d rather take the shinkansen and go south… I guess Japan changed a lot, quite a lot, and I think I wouldn’t recognize what I had known in the nineties! 🙂 c

  4. Who’d have thought crowds of people would create such an interesting post, and such an interesting interpretation of convergence. My preference is still a quiet intersection of two bush tracks with just me, and maybe a wallaby, but then I’m a bush woman.

    1. No, I can’t see you here either Meg😊 While I do enjoy the energy of big and beautiful cities, Tokyo wouldn’t figure on my favourites list at all.

  5. Oh my! This is such cool place to the way Japanese dressed up themselves – they have their styles and no fear to show it off! Did you try the apple pie milk tea? 😀 😀

    1. Absolutely! And that is the reason they are able to carry it off!

      No, I did not dare try that concoction Indah….I should have 😀

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