Thursday, January 1, 2009   1:01 PM

Scrambled Crossing

This is Shibuya Crossing. Even if you've never been to Tokyo you've very probably seen it on TV. Or in "Lost In Translation". By law anyone doing any kind of filming has to shoot at least one scene here or they won't be allowed to leave the country. It's very impressive, what with the masses of people and all those futuristic-looking high-tech video screens. In fact it's one of those iconic locations where it'd be fun to celebrate the countdown to New Year, sort of like New York's Times Square or London's Trafalgar Square. As you can see from the picture below, at around 11pm there were quite a lot of people gathered with the intention of having a bit of harmless fun:

New Year in Tokyo, Japan

But not if Mr. Policeman is going to have anything to do with it. Oh no. Mr. Policeman is evidently having a great time repeating the announcement that there would be no countdown at this location, and that anyone planning one should please bugger off somewhere else off his beat. He'd even gone to the trouble of having those futuristic video screens shut off.

New Year in Tokyo, Japan: Policeman in Shibuya

Meanwhile Mr. Policeman's friends were busy blocking off the diagonal bit of the crossing, to prevent any blatant and gratuitous acts of fun:

New Year in Tokyo, Japan: Shibuya Crossing

So, sensing that Mr. Policeman's friends and some rather less friendly-looking friends of his with big sticks might impose officially-sanctioned boredom, we buggered off somewhere else.

The nearest alternative "entertainment" was the traditional coin-throwing ceremony at Meiji Jingu, which is the Ground Zero of Japanese New Year celebrations. However, it didn't seem too crowded, and there was even a friendly sign advising us to watch our step:

New Year in Tokyo, Japan

But wait! Says the mouse. Yes, it's Piipo-kun, the mascot character of Tokyo's rugged, manly police force:

New Year in Tokyo, Japan: Meiji Jingu Shrine

It turns out that around the corner is the mother of all queues, efficiently organised into separate blocks to prevent unseemly stampedes:

New Year in Tokyo, Japan: Meiji Jingu Shrine

All watched over by Tokyo's finest and their cute rodent:

New Year in Tokyo, Japan: Police at Meiji Jingu Shrine

After a while, during which midnight came and went with a reasonably lively spontaneous countdown, after just an hour-and-a-half the outer gates of the shrine compound itself hove into view:

New Year in Tokyo, Japan: Meiji Jingu Shrine

through whence there was a great inpouring of the masses:

New Year in Tokyo, Japan: Meiji Jingu Shrine

coins in hand launching them at the great receptacle trough which had been set up for the purpose in front of the main shrine building:

Coin throwing at Meiji Jingu

Once that's over and done with, why not stop off at the thoughtfully provided refreshment area and tuck in to some nice traditional Döner Kebab?

New Year in Tokyo, Japan: Doner Kebab

However, if epic midnight queuing is not your thing, you can celebrate the New Year by popping along to your local shrine the next morning and waiting in its own mini-line:

New Year in Tokyo, Japan: Queue at local shrine

Anyway, however you saw in 2009, Happy New Year and all the best for the next 365 bovine days!

Posted in Life in Japan
Shibuya Crossing is shown in movies/tv shows so often that you could think that the whole tokyo looks like this. Thanks for awesome pics and story.
Posted by: Diety | 2009-02-23 13:13