Waiting to cross, I see my mark. I’m thrilled I have the option to cross diagonally. I don't have to cross the intersection twice, how efficient I gleam to myself. I wait eagerly. The funny thing about Tokyo is despite its size, there is order. Rules are for the most part strictly adhered to. If the light says do not cross, people wait, even when there are no cars coming. So we stand and wait. A large crowd quickly amasses.
The light turns green, the white outline of a person is illuminated, the sound of chirping birds serenades sweetly, a cue for the blind. I step forth onto the cross walk pushing Ohm in his stroller. All is well. I’m making my way along the diagonal strip thinking to myself how handy one of these would be in New York.
Suddenly there is a whiz on my right and then a whoosh on my left. I'm caught off-guard as bicycles barrel through the foot traffic, pedestrians scurry and push. Caught in a frenzy, I'm disoriented in a sea of people. I can no longer see my diagonal cross walk path. I can no longer see the building I am trying to walk towards. People jostle each other about. Legs and bags bump into Ohm’s stroller. Ohm looks up at me . His enormous brown eyes form question marks. His little knuckles bulge from the tight fists he's formed as he grasps his seat for dear life. I'm dizzy. I'm being pushed along by the momentum of the crowd. I have no idea what direction I'm being moved towards. I thought I was accustomed to crowds, I'm a New Yorker.
The light begins to flash. People sprint and thrash banging into each other, into cyclists and into me. Racing towards a curb, any curb, I make it just in time. The cross walk once again belongs to the motorists. The morning traffic hums into action. The curbs emerge again, serene, as if nothing has happened. As if hundreds of people hadn’t stampeded seconds ago.
Shibuya crossing is one of the busiest intersections in the world.
It is quite the experience, but it's not for the meek. My advice: know your mark, run-walk, keep your eye out for cyclists who cross aggressively with pedestrians and don’t push a stroller!
I was able to capture the madness from my hotel window in this video.
Shibuya Crossing at night. I don't even know where to begin!
What is the busiest cross walk or area you’ve encountered on your travels?