Browse By

Shibuya: Icon of Modernity and Loyalty

SNA (Tokyo) — Shibuya is one of Japan’s most iconic locations. Footage of the crossing in front of Shibuya Station is often used to represent Japan’s transformation from the ashes of 1945 to the modern superpower of the 1980s. The story of the loyal dog Hachiko, which took place here, is one of Japan’s best known. But Shibuya is also a city of some 210,000 residents; one of the 23 wards that form the core of the megacity Tokyo.


Narration: Shibuya Station and its surrounding neighborhoods is undoubtedly one of the most famous areas in Tokyo, known especially as a center for fashion and youth culture.

Woman 1: The attractive point is that there is everything here. It’s enjoyable and the prices are cheap. What else can I say? It’s a place where all kinds of people are gathered.

Narration: The crowds traversing Shibuya Crossing right in front of the train station is an iconic image of modern Japan often used to represent the nation’s transformation from the ashes of defeat in 1945 to the economic superpower of the 1980s.

Woman 2: You meet all sorts of people here. This town is both a learning experience and enjoyable.

Narration: Indeed, you can find all kinds of people here in Shibuya. Equally well-known is the statue of the loyal dog Hachiko, who waited in vain for his dead master for many years at this very spot, tugging at the heartstrings of a nation. Nowadays, the area around the statue is Japan’s most appropriate location to await one’s friends before going shopping or eating or whatever in Shibuya’s extensive commercial district.

Woman 3: The dog named Hachiko was… What should I say? Well, he was very famous. He used to wait around where that statue is now. Inside the station too you can see the Hachiko Exit signs. So, it’s kind of hard for people to lose their way. Even people who have never been here can usually find it.

Narration: While there are a very few parts of Japan that are active 24 hours a day. Shibuya Crossing comes pretty close. As impressive as it is by day, the night view can be even more spectacular. At different seasons, and at different times, it is a district of change, even many of the shops along its streets go out of business, face renewal, or introduce the completely original.

Center Gai is the heart of the shopping district and thankfully a pedestrian zone. This is a place where people, mostly young people, buy clothes, jewelry, or else go for entertainment, or a bite to eat. Here it runs from highbrow to lowbrow, there’s just no telling what you might discover. Nearby is Spain-zaka, which is supposedly similar in appearance to a traditional Spanish street. Behind the trendy Shibuya 109 shopping complex is a zone that probably could exist in few places other than Japan.

This is Love Hotel Hill, where couples go for rooms available for two or three hour periods. There is not much rest happening in these hotel rooms.

Although, the word Shibuya is most closely associated with the Shibuya Station area and its surrounding commercial district. It is also part of a larger Shibuya city, which is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo, making up the core of this mega city. Shibuya city has a resident population of over 210,000 people and its own city government and its own flag. Harajuku, Yoyogi, Ebisu, and Hiroo are neighborhoods well known in their own right that also belong to Shibuya city. On its northern border, Shibuya city runs right up to Shinjuku Station, meaning that such major shopping complexes as Takashimaya Times Square is actually part of Shibuya city, not Shinjuku city as one might naturally assume. But be that as it may, to most visitors to Japan, as for most Japanese themselves, Shibuya is that youthful ever-changing zone where the crowd spill out at the change of signal, and where the faithful dog Hachiko watches over his waiting friends.

This is the Shingetsu News Agency, reporting from Tokyo.

Get the feeling that your news services aren’t telling you the whole truth? That’s what happens when they get their operating money from governments and business corporations. SNA relies exclusively upon its subscribers in order to remain fully independent. Please support fearless and progressive media in Japan through Patreon.

Become a Patron!
For breaking news, follow on Twitter @ShingetsuNews