Shinjuku and Shibuya are two busy neighbors in western Central Tokyo, only a few trains stops away from each other. Shinjuku has the world’s busiest train station (as certified by Guinness, Wikipedia tells me). It’s even busier than Tokyo station, which is more focused on being the national transport hub for the shinkansen. Worse, there are 200 possible exits, which means you could surface only to find yourself down the street from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, almost a mile from the bookstore you were aiming for.
I mostly went for shopping (Kinokuniya South in Shinjuku has the largest selection of foreign language books in the city), but also to try and recreate some pictures taken nine years ago, on my first trip to Japan in 2004. I had some success, considering that I was squinting at my phone in one hand and juggling the camera with the other. I might have to try the picture of me again in a few years with a photographer I can bully into being more accurate – I didn’t want to run out of good will with the old lady I had cornered instead.
After the morning calm of Shinjuku, Shibuya was complete madness. I had actually never been before, but was lured in by the Tokyu Hands department store and a store that focuses on one of my favorite comics, One Piece.
This is the famous intersection that every documentary featuring Japan seems to open with. I swear that a thousand people cross each time the light changes. Shibuya seems a lot more difficult to navigate than Shinjuku – twistier streets, narrower sidewalks. I got briefly lost several times and was extremely grateful that the department store had a shuttle bus running on weekends and holidays.
Shibuya Station also features a statue of Hachiko, a dog that waited faithfully at the station for his master to return home, years after the man had died (made into a film starring Richard Gere – what is it with Richard Gere and remakes of Japanese films?). At this point, the dog would need a pedestal to stand on, or risk being stepped on.