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The History Of Shibuya Crossing in 1 Minute

Picture of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer
Updated: 10 May 2018
Tokyo‘s Shibuya Station handles an average of over 2.4 million passengers each day. This makes Shibuya Crosssing a pedestrian scramble at the mouth of Shibuya Station’s Hachiko Exit, one of the busiest thoroughfares in the world. The all-way pedestrian crossing is a place where people from all walks of life collide. It’s an icon of the vibrancy and energy that Tokyo is known for and one of the city’s most iconic attractions.

Attraction

With so many subway and bus lines stopping by Shibuya, the logistical appeal for the average Tokyoite is obvious. After a night of dancing and drinking or karaoke and dining, friends from all over the city can easily catch the last train home or wait for the stations to open again in the morning. Shibuya is home to countless bars, clubs and restaurants but it has a reputation for belonging to the city’s fashionable youth. Popular chains like Forever 21 and Uniqlo have large branches here as well as the iconic Shibuya 109 and 109 Men’s malls, not to mention the handful of department stores scattered just steps from the station. Shibuya is a popular choice for those under 20 years old, who can’t yet get into the stylish clubs at Roppongi or the bars in Shinjuku.

Shibuya Crossing at sunset
Shibuya Crossing at sunset | © David Bertho/Flickr

Hachiko

Exit 8 of Shibuya Station is known as the Hachiko Exit, so-called because of the bronze statue of the famous dog in the plaza outside. Hachiko was a dog who lived during the 1920s and everyday the dog would return to Shibuya Station to wait for his owner, Professor Ueno, to come home from work. Hachiko became a familiar site and the two continued in this way for nearly a year. Until one day, the professor did not return. He’d suffered a brain hemorrhage at work and passed away suddenly without saying goodbye. Remarkably, for the next nine years, Hachiko could be found waiting for his owner in the same spot, at the same time each day. When his story was reported by one of the professor’s former students, Hachiko went down in history. The statue was erected in 1934 but Hachiko died from cancer one year later, at the age of 11.

Hachiko keeps watch over Hachiko Plaza in front of Shibuya Crossing
Hachiko keeps watch over Hachiko Plaza in front of Shibuya Crossing | © David Offf/Flickr

Fame

Shibuya Crossing has become symbolic of Tokyo. The neon billboards screaming advertisements at the crowds, the sheer quantity of foot traffic and the size of the free-for-all represent the ultra-modern side of the city that outsiders are more familiar with. This has made it the perfect backdrop for Hollywood films, like Lost in Translation and The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Early morning at Shibuya Crossing
Early morning at Shibuya Crossing | © Candida.Performa/Flickr

History and Future

Shibuya Station first began operations over one hundred years ago, in 1885. Back then, it served as a stop on the Shinagawa Line. The Shinagawa Line has since expanded and is now known as the JR Yamanote Line. Today, Shibuya Station serves more than eight different lines and is operated jointly by the JR East, Keio, Tokyu and Tokyo Metro subway companies. Tokyu Corporation, one of the major operators of Shibuya Station, is planning a 47-storey commercial building to be completed in 2019. This new structure will be the tallest in Shibuya – just one more reason to visit Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo’s busiest pedestrian thoroughfare.

Another rainy day at Shibuya Crossing
Another rainy day at Shibuya Crossing | © Ikusuki/Flickr