No matter how long you’ve been in Tokyo, you’ve got to admit it is a lot of people.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing in the heart of Tokyo is one of the city’s most iconic spots, earning fame by the fact that it’s the one of the busiest crossings in the world. As soon as that crosswalk light turns green, it turns into something that looks like mosh pit at a concert — complete with some people dancing their way across.

To our Osaka-born Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa, his first glimpse of the Scramble left him flabbergasted. Osaka isn’t exactly a small city either with a population of almost 2.7 million, but there’s nothing that’s even close to the same level as the heart of Shibuya in his native land.

So it got him thinking, “Do people that were born and raised in Tokyo feel the same way I do?

Luckily, there are a few through-and-through Tokyo-ites in the SoraNews24 office. The first person Seiji approached was Go Hatori, who grew up in Tokyo’s Nakameguro neighborhood. Besides being famous for the picturesque cherry blossom trees lining the Meguro River, Nakameguro is also known for being quite close to Shibuya.

“How did you feel when you first laid eyes on the Shibuya Scramble Crossing?” Seiji asked.

▼ “I didn’t think much of it,” Go replied.

Seiji: “You’ve got to be kidding. Even if you grew up in Nakameguro, you’ve never felt overwhelmed by it? Growing up so close to it, you must first seen it when you were really young.”

Go: “Hmm… honestly, since I always lived within walking distance of it, my dad and I would often walk there to get katsudon. Maybe that’s why it seems so natural to me.”

Seiji: “I’m going to ask someone else. You’re too much of a city boy.”

And with that, Seiji moved onto his next Tokyo target and SoraNews24’s honorable founder, Yoshio. He grew up in Tokyo’s Nerima neighborhood, which is situated a fair distance northwest of Shibuya. In other words, he’s a Tokyo native that didn’t grow up within walking distance of the Scramble Crossing.

Yoshio remembered seeing scenes of downtown Tokyo as a completely different world when he was younger. The first time he laid eyes on Shibuya Scramble Crossing in person wasn’t until he was in junior high school.

“So, how was it?” Seiji asked hopefully.

▼ Yoshio: “I didn’t think much of it.”

Seiji: “What? Even though you grew up in Nerima? You weren’t overwhelmed by the sheer scale and number of people there?”

Yoshio: “Not really. I just thought, ‘Oh, so there are places like this, too.’ I actually feel more taken aback by it now than back then.”

▼ Yoshio reflected wistfully on his childhood.

Seiji: “Why’s that?”

Yoshio: “There weren’t as many people in Tokyo when I first saw the Scramble Crossing. Until the pandemic hit, I feel like there were more and more people there. It was rare to see foreign tourists at the Crossing back then, and we didn’t have huge gatherings for things like Halloween and the World Cup.”

▼ For sure, Shibuya must have been a different sight back then.

There you have it. Even Tokyo natives can feel a bit overwhelmed when they reach the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, but it’s more likely that’s due to how it is now versus how it is back then. Seiji felt a bit better knowing he wasn’t alone, but whether he secretly looks forward to seeing massive crowds for New Year’s Countdowns and more when the pandemic is over is still a mystery.

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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