Taking the JR Line from Akihabara to Shibuya, we exited the station via the South Ticket Gate at Tokyu Department Store and came across this statue that looks like a human face with wavy hair. This statue resembles the ‘Moai’ figures found on Easter Island. Here it’s called ‘Moyai’, a Japanese word meaning to ‘work together’ in the dialect of the people of Niijima Island.
The statue was donated to Tokyo in 1980 by the people of Niijima amid celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the transfer of administrative jurisdiction to the Prefecture to Tokyo. The island is about 160km south of Tokyo and known for its beautiful white beaches and clear sea waters. The statue is carved from an extremely rare volcanic rock found only on Niijima Island.
Walking around Tokyu Department Store from the Moyai statue to the other side facing Shibuya intersection, is yet another statue. This is the famous Hachiko dog statue. In the 1920s, this dog would journey to Shibuya Station to wait for his master to arrive back from his daily commute. One day his master did not return from work, having suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage. This did not deter Hachiko to return to the same spot to wait for his master every day for the next nine years. The memory of this dog has gone on to become a Japanese symbol of enduring loyalty.
Close to the Hachiko statue, just next to the Shibuya pedestrian crossing is statues of ‘Children Playing on Earth’. The statue represent children playing on top of the world. No details relating to this statue could be found.
The Shibuya crossing is where four streets converge to one point. To assist pedestrians to cross from one street to the other, four pedestrian crossing connects each of the streets plus one that goes diagonally. Welcome to the worlds’ busiest crossing sending people in all directions when the traffic light goes green for pedestrians. Hundreds of people, three thousand during peak time cross at once, yet the ‘Shibuya Scramble’ manages to avoid bumping into each other.
Mag’s Park @ Magnet
After being part of the Shibuya Scramble and experiencing it at street level, why not have a bird’s eye view of the crossing from Mag’s Park rooftop of Magnet Building. Take the elevator to 7F, exit and turn left and walk across the food-court/cafe for the ’emergency exit’ door. Walk up one level for the rooftop terrace viewing deck. No ticket is required as of November 2018. The viewing deck is glass shielded and does pose glares when photographing during the day. Using a polariser may help to reduce this. Be aware that the tall buildings surrounding the crossing cast partial shadow onto the street making exposure tricky.
Since we are not into shopping, we just walked around Shibuya and did street level window shopping to soak in the atmosphere. After experiencing a couple more of ‘Shibuya Scramble’ and few selfies at the crossing, we headed for Harajuku a train stop away on the JR Line.
Harajuku is renowned for it’s teenage culture and shopping. It is the center of Japan’s most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles but also offers shopping for adults. The focal point of Harajuku’s teenage culture is Takeshita Street a narrow 350 meter long street located in-front of Harajuku station. It is lined with many fashion boutiques, trendy shops, pre-loved clothing stores, cafes and fast food outlets, crepe stands, all geared towards Tokyo’s young shoppers. Because of the street’s popularity, it becomes extremely busy and crowded most of the time. Daiso was so packed one could hardly move and the queue for payment at 7-Eleven snakes around the aisles. NO, for our age, we don’t ‘dig’ Harajuku. Time to visit Shinjuku.
Shinjuku Station is the world’s busiest railway station, handling more than two million passengers every day. It is served close to a dozen railway and subway lines and also houses one of Tokyo’s major terminal for long distance highway buses. A large bus terminal known as Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal (SEBT) is located on 4F of the JR Shinjuku railway station.
Being just beside the station, we visited the 15 floors Takashimaya Department store within the ‘Times Square’ complex. Not only are the products on sale here are high-end, the prices are too, so again just window shopping. Other big name outlets nearby the station are Yodobashi Camera, BIC Camera & Don Quijote to name a few but they also have branches in Akihabara close to our hotel.
We decided not to venture any further out of the station but to return to our hotel. Although Shinjuku station is dubbed the busiest train station in the world, we did not get lost and made our way to platform 13 for the Chou Line for Akihabara. We ended our fourth day in Tokyo and the 11th in Japan at Shinjuku. Tomorrow we’ll head to Kawaguchiko for Mount Fuji.