Rainy Shibuya

Riding the Yamanote line train to Shibuya (from Tokyo Tower), gave me a chance to rest my feet and let my mind wander. I started thinking maybe I should go back to my hotel and drop off some unnecessary gear, but quickly dismissed the idea, as going all the way back to Shinjuku just to turn around and come back to Shibuya (which I was going to be passing right through) would’ve been a waste of time on the final night of this trip.

Nonstop to Shibuya it would be.

The ride was quick and I exited out of Shibuya station via the entrance near the statue of Hachiko the dog, adjacent to the huge (and famous) intersection known as “Hachiko Crossing”. I was surprised to see that it had again been raining while I was on the train (like it had earlier on my way to Ueno.) The ground was now nice and shiny, and wet. It was going to be raining again soon, that was for sure.

This intersection (Hachiko Crossing) is an iconic place, instantly recognizable from travel books and movies. It’s in “Lost in Translation” for instance. Lots of lights at night and it’s designed so that when people cross, everyone crosses at the same time, from all directions.

Instead of immediately crossing the crazy intersection, I turned left and made my way over to, and across, a pedestrian bridge to that took me slightly away from the action. I wanted to see if I could get a different vantage point for perhaps some more interesting images.

I eventually made it back around to the main crossing and settled on a spot near the station side of the intersection. There was a short, barricade-ish column that made for a perfect makeshift tripod- allowing me to play around with some longer exposures. Motion of the people against the non-moving structures.

I was there maybe 5 minutes before I was “ambushed” by a young street photographer who popped up right next to me and took my photo. He was decked out in a cardigan and skinny jeans, topped of by the classic 1950’s style black eyeglass frames without the lenses’. Photographically, he was equipped with a nice Leica M6 and 35mm lens.

I appreciated that he took a shot of me, the foreigner with the camera shooting the slightly stereotypical spot of Hachiko crossing. At the time he spotted me, I had the 70-200 on the camera which is a bit large and not at all discreet. We ended up having a nice conversation. Turns out he was 22, born in Japan (but grew up outside of NYC in Connecticut) and now lives in Nagoya. He was out for the weekend visiting Tokyo to do some photography and he said that he loves coming to Hachiko Crossing when he’s in Tokyo because of all the foreigners like me. Haha, glad I could be so typical. I gave him a card and we parted ways. At that point, I decided that it was time to move to a new spot. Rain was starting to fall and umbrellas were going up so, I put the 50mm back on the camera, pulled the rain cover over my camera bag and started meandering around the sidewalk.


It wasn’t more than maybe another 5 minutes before I ended up meeting another photographer. His day job was in IT (information technologies) but his passion he said was photography. (I found him interesting in that he had his fully packed camera backpack, with tripod attached, and was dressed in a suit- he was coming from work.) We chatted for a few minutes, and it turned out that he was originally from India but had been transferred to Tokyo, which he loved. We exchanged business cards and got back to our respective work. By now the rain was starting to come down hard enough that I pulled out my umbrella. It made for such a beautiful sight with the lights of the busy city reflecting off the ground and the many umbrellas creating these little floating tents.

I finally decided it was time to cross over to the other side and wandered into Starbucks in the Tsutaya bookstore. I ordered a coffee (even though it was hot and humid) and then headed to the second floor to try and get a seat that looked out over the crossing. Unfortunately, it was jammed packed so I was relegated to drinking my coffee standing up. I drank it pretty fast and then took some time to enjoy the air conditioning by looking through the music, you never know if you’re going to find something good and unavailable elsewhere.

I spent about a half hour looking at CD’s and listening to tracks. by that point that though, I was starting to get hungry. However, had no idea what I wanted to eat. I left Tsutaya and ended up out on on the street across from a McDonalds. As sad as It makes me to admit it, I gave in and headed into the Golden Arches to grab a quick dinner. My dining experience in McDonald’s that night was the worst I have ever had.

From the moment I stepped into the restaurant, I just could not cool off. I ordered the basic two cheeseburgers meal, and instead of waiting for them at the counter, they had me take my fries and drink and go sit down as the burgers needed to be cooked (they were pretty busy). So I went up to the second floor and found the only open single seat, at the counter looking out the window.

I sat down and set down my camera on he floor under my feet. Then, I immediately just started sweating, in a way reminisnet of my hike in Kurama. And as I tried to cool off, by either fanning myself or wiping my brow, I seemed to just draw more attention to myself. The young woman sitting to my right seemed to especially take note of my sad state. My meal ended being inhaled as I wanted to get out as fast as I could!

So, as soon as it was gone, I threw away my trash I got out of that McDonald’s as fast as I could and swore that it would a long time before I ever set foot in one again.

Back out on the street I made my way back to Hachiko Crossing. The rain had stopped for now and I was trying to decide if I was going to explore Shibuya any more or head back towards Shinjuku. Shibuya is a fun area, but I was getting tired and wanted to get myself packed before I went to bed so that I could get up early and just get out on the streets for my last day in Tokyo.

With my decision made to head back to Shinjuku, I crossed with the masses when the signal changed and headed for the station entrance. As I stepped back onto the sidewalk, I turned to look back one more time. The rain was starting to fall again and umbrellas were going back up. I paused to watch and take a few more photos. The colors of the reflected lights on the wet ground look so nice and everyone seemed to be just having a good time.

I spent 20 minutes watching and photographing before I finally made my way back into Shibuya Station. I caught the Yamanote line and was back in Shinjuku before I knew it.

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