The Streets of Tokyo – an Overwhelming Introduction

Our Toyko hotel was smack dab in the middle of Shibuya Crossing, a huge hub of transportation, shopping, restaurants and night life. The adjacent train station boasts 3 million people passing through each day.  The crossing is renowned for being the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. Up to 3000 people cross the intersection each time the little green man appears above the crosswalk. Here, crossing the street is nicknamed the mad “scramble”.

Dusk at street level in Shibuya Crossing

Umbrellas in Shibuya Crossing

If you enjoy big, colorful, and vibrant cities, filled with tons of people and lots of energy, then Toyko is for you.

For me, the quiet introvert who loves nature and landscapes, my introduction to Japan was just a tad overwhelming.

However, right around the corner from our hotel was a small traditional style noodle shop that had gluten free noodle dishes!

Score one for Toyko!

Tokyo shows a reserved culture

There is an ordered sense to the city. Streets are clean, and there are no shady characters on street corners, in alley ways or at the train station.

People respect and follow rules of behavior. For example, no-one crosses a crosswalk without the little green man, no one jay walks, and people respect another’s space. In this huge city, I never felt threatened, uncomfortable or unsafe – even in the red-light district or in a back alley. 

Motorists DO NOT “honk” their horns. There are no loud mufflers or revving engines. How can you have a city teeming with life and not have it be loud? 

It was easy to enjoy the city – Score another point for Toyko.

Tokyo is alive with energy

The energy is created with the people, the lights, colorful advertising and neon signs.  

Advertising signs are bright and colorful, and they are everywhere. This is on the side of a truck passing through Shibuya Crossing.


LCD screen displays the size of half a football entertain with videos and more advertisements. 

People stop on the street to watch a huge 3D cat dance and rollover on the screen.

Toyko has a playful side

Advertisements  often contain cartoon-like characters, with  smiles, and fun animations. There are stores that look like arcades of gumball-like machines that contain “toy capsules” of trinkets and there are claw like machines where you can try your hand at grabbing a stuffed animal. Street displays are colorful and attractive. People enjoy fun foods (cotton candy). 

Takeshita street has eyes on you. It is a street full of interesting shops and food vendors.

Capsule Toy Jungle, the title says it all.


An arcade full of toy machines. Try your luck!

Toyko has beautiful parks

I fell in love with this park. It was in the midst of the city, but felt like a peaceful oasis. It was full of canals and a variety of water features surrounded by trees with the city skyline all around.

Starbucks in Wadakura Fountain Park, check out the tree reflections that make the building almost disappear.

Central fountain in Wadakura Fountain Park

Toyko has amazing architecture

I love interesting buildings. I can spend  hours photographing places like inside the Oculus in New York City and the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. I find the lines and patterns fascinating and abstract. Tokyo has everything from old temples and shrines, to 19th century train station with decorative ceilings, to buildings that are more modern-day art.

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower is a 50-story educational facility located at the heart of Tokyo, in the Nishi-Shinjuku district.


A mirrored entrance to the Tokyu Plaza Omotesando shopping center, and a volunteer model.


Tokyo International Forum.

I was in love…. The more I saw the more I wanted to see.

Tokyo – The people

I am uncomfortable in crowds. Street photography is also difficult for me as I don’t like to intrude in someone’s personal space or private life. As I hesitantly approached people in the city for a possible photo,  I was quite surprised at the response.  Instead of dirty looks or downcast eyes, most people embraced the photo opportunity, breaking out in a smile and often sharing  a wave or a peace symbol. They made street photography fun and easy to capture the people in a personal way.

Cotton candy was very popular. We even found help yourself machines in local restaurants.


Obeying the crosswalk and happy to be photographed.

It is easy to be happy when others appear happy. It is easy to smile when others smile. I enjoyed these people. 

Toyko scored big. It made me happy – I fell in love with the city, and I would love to return.