Today was a rainy day but after being cooped up in the apartment through much of the morning, we decided to venture out even though there were occasional rain spells. We used the Tokyo Metro to go with Lekshmi and Brito to see the famous Shibuya Crossing – a remarkable experience by any definition.

What appears to be a mass of humanity when the traffic stops and everyone is crossing at the same time

This is a famous crossing just outside Shibuya Station that is surrounded by shops and dining establishments. When the lights turn red at this busy junction, they all turn red at the same time in every direction – essentially crosswise and diagonally. Traffic stops completely and pedestrians surge into the intersection from all sides, in what seems like a chaotic scramble – pedestrians in the hundreds if not thousands scramble through the crossing in what is an extraordinary scene to witness . You can observe this moment of organized chaos from the second-story window of the Shibuya station – which is where we observed it. We observed it when the rain had ceased and also when it was raining and then we saw this sea of umbrellas crossing the intersection.

A better sense of what happens when the green light signals that people can cross appears on this video from Youtube!

As with everything in Tokyo, there is extraordinary discipline – people cross when they get a green signal and when the pedestrian crossing turns red people immediately cease to cross so that cars can proceed. I cannot imagine this sort of discipline being displayed by either pedestrians or vehicles in India where one sees genuine chaos with failure to observe any rules.

We then proceeded to explore some shops around this intersection – there is one store called “Mega Don Quijote” which is a sort of Japanese version of a very crowded Walmart with even less aisle space than the usual Walmart – but they stock just about everything you can imagine from daily needs to more exotic items.  The floor guide is written in multiple languages including Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean and Thai, and TAX FREE shopping is also available.

The shop is located on 7 floors and each floor offers different types of products ranging from  souvenirs to a wide variety of liquor – there is pretty much nothing that you can’t find in this place and many items are discounted although still more expensive than the US though liquor is definitely cheaper. There are several branches of the store around Tokyo and some of the stores carry items which may not be found at others.

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