Tokyo in Pics


A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Shibuya has a Magnet for the Crossing

One of the most popular places to photograph in Tokyo is Shibuya Crossing.  According to various sources on the internet, up to 2500 people walk over it every time the lights turn green.  To be at ground level and among all the crowd and all the energy that is there is one thing, but you can hardly see past the first row of people.   But to see the crossing and everyone on it in its entirety, you need to see it from above.

Shibuya Crossing on a Sunday evening

And the one of the best free places to take that photograph is from the Magnet by Shibuya 109 Building.  Take the lift up to the roof and walk out onto the observation deck. The deck isn’t that big and there are only two windows that you can get a useful picture of the crossing from.  Only a small viewing area, but it is a very good one! In my opinion, being only eight floors above the ground which isn’t too far, so you can still everything below quite well, night or day.  

Shibuya Crossing on a weekday

As with some other places in Tokyo whenever I look down on such large amount of people waiting to cross the road it often reminds me of those movies where you have the Romans on one side and the Barbarians on the other.  The signal, the green light in this case, is given and both sides advance to engage. This time though the two side bloodlessly meet and just try to get past each other with no casualties. It amazes me every time I see it.

The observation deck at night - not a lot of space if it gets crowded

You’ll see the people running out into the middle of the run to take their selfies before the lights change; the people just wanting to get to the other side; the people on either side with their cameras photographing everything in the middle; the occasional person with an umbrella and, those out people watching.  Shibuya 109 is only a stone’s throw away too.

If I have to talk about any problems with the Magnet’s observation deck is that it would have been nice if the windows were angled out a little more.  As they are now, you can’t quite get a picture looking straight down, so your shot will be slightly angled out unless you are extremely tall to get a better downwards angle.

The other problem is dealing with the glare of the windows and that sometimes, as the deck is quite small you have to wait for other people to move away from the windows.  Another problem, but not a major one, is that the deck is open to the elements, so if it rains you’ll get wet. You can’t use umbrellas but there is a vending machine there that sells raincoats.

If you have an Instagram account and decide to shoot Shibuya Crossing, please use my hashtag which is #tokyoinpics if you want me to see it. Magnet by Shibuya 109 is only closes on January first and is open from 10 am (11 am for the rooftop) to 9 pm (11 pm for the 7th floor and rooftop). You can see its website here.

Gear for this shot:

Camera - Fujifilm X-T2

Lens - Fujifilm XF 16 - 55 mm f/2.8 R LM WR Lens

Here is a map to help you find the building: