Tokyo, the capital & largest city in Japan & the economic and cultural centre of the country is, with a population of over 32 million, the centre of the largest metropolitan area in the world. It may be busy but it’s also something of a modern-day urban utopia – trains run on time, the crime rate is hardly worth worrying about, shops and vending machines provide everything you could need (and many things you never thought you needed) 24/7, & people wear the coolest fashions, eat in fabulous restaurants, and party in the hippest clubs. First-time visitors to Tokyo should be prepared for a massive assault on the senses; just walking the streets of this hyperactive city can be an energizing experience & no more so than in the city’s famed Shibuya district.

A busy crossroads in the Shibuya shopping and entertainment district, Tokyo, Japan. July 15th 2005.

A busy crossroads in the Shibuya shopping and entertainment district in the west of Tokyo, one of the busiest & most photographed pedestrian intersections in the world. Twenty-four hours day it’s vibrant, lively, fun, faddish, crowded, cramped and busy, and the streetwise love it. Shibuya is newer than its rival district of Shinjuku and has a cleaner, safer reputation. The district is a pop culture hotbed with several famous fashion department stores in the vicinity including Shibuya 109, seen in the distance. Shibuya 109 is a major shopping centre famous as the origin of the kogal subculture, a popular 1990s fashion craze that involved wearing an outfit based on a Japanese schoolgirl uniform. Alongside its huge department stores, Shibuya is also famous for the studios of NHK, the Olympic gymnasium, Love Hotel Hill and Hachiko, the tearjerking statue of a dog who even after his master had passed away would, night after night, year after year, wait by the subway station for his master to return. His master never did return and when Hachiko himself finally passed away on March 8, 1935, many a heart was touched. He was given a huge send off and his body now rests in the National Science Museum. Shibuya (map-pointer-icon), Tokyo, Japan. July 14th, 2005 || From my July 2005 visit to Tokyo, Japan.

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