Strange…but true! In a metropolis like Tokyo, one of the biggest tourist attractions is a crosswalk, not a historical monument, a museum or a park. Shibuya is a shopping district in Tokyo with a population of approximately 208,000 people. Once the site of the Shibuya family castle, this major shopping and entertainment center is truly a city that never sleeps. The opening of the Yamanote Line in 1885 transformed this area into a hot spot for Japan’s youth but not only, providing a large fashion district and exciting nightlife. Identified as Japan’s “Time Square”, this area has been the focus point of many Hollywood movies such as The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift and both Resident Evil movies After Life and Retribution. The road intersection itself is nothing spectacular, but only a crossroads on four streets with a total of ten lanes, right in the heart of one of Tokyo’s trendy district, lit by neon signs and giant billboards.
But what happens in the busy pedestrian crossing, located just off the Hachikō exit of Shibuya station, when the light turns red for vehicles, is a show that is worth seeing.
In the major part of the japanese crossroads, when the light turns red, traffic is stopped simultaneously in all directions, to allow the crowd of pedestrians waiting at the four corners of the streets to swarm like a long worm to all destinations. Despite this, all touch each other in an organized chaos, without clashing, and this is simple courtesy, strange and fascinating for anyone who is not Japanese! In fact, the inhabitants of Tokyo, which is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, are used to sharing small spaces, and each of them respects the small living space of others, asking a similar treatment for themselves: only in this way is it possible to maintain order and harmony, fundamental values in the japanese culture.
Pedestrians have about a minute to cross the intersection, then they have to stop. When the vehicles start moving again, every corner is filled with people: commuters, students, tourist, local people, workers…all waiting for their turn to go to the other side of the road!
It seems that the Shibuya crossing is the busiest in the world: at rush hour around 2500 people are crossing the streets in just one minute of traffic stops, and over two million in one day!