Heads up: the Shibuya Scramble can be dangerous if you’re not paying attention.

The Shibuya Scramble, the five-way intersection located right outside Shibuya Station, is Tokyo’s busiest crosswalk. But while it’s both a tourist-attracting landmark and a convenient way to get from one part of the neighborhood to another, the Shibuya Scramble is still, first and foremost, a street crossing, and so it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings in order to safely make your way from one side to another.

A startling reminder of that came on Tuesday at about 8:30 p.m. when, on what was otherwise a fairly typical evening, a woman suffered injuries when she walked into a bus that was driving through the Scramble, as seen in the video here.

The ground-level video was captured by the crew of Japanese TV news program Mezamashi 8, who appear to have been at the Shibuya Scramble to record video of go-kart tours, which are back in the public discourse as increasing numbers of foreign tourists come to Japan. With a kart group stopped at a red light, the camera was initially focused on the video game-like vehicles, until shouts and screams cause the camera operator to swing the lens to the crosswalk, where a woman is lying on the ground in front of a bus.

However, with the woman lying right in the middle of the length of the bus, it doesn’t look like the bus struck her, and looking at traffic camera video, recorded from a higher point on the far side of the Scramble, shows that the woman herself did walk into the side of the bus, as seen in the point in the video cued up here.

The woman apparently walked into the bus with enough force that the driver noticed, bringing the vehicle to a stop and getting out to check on her. However, the woman spoke very little Japanese, and was only able to communicate, with much difficulty, using her smartphone’s translation function. Police and medical personnel arrived soon after, and the woman was able to communicate that she was by herself in Shibuya, and that her head, elbow, and lower leg were in pain before being taken away in an ambulance for further examination and treatment, although she thankfully appeared to be suffering no loss of blood.

It’s yet to be publicly confirmed how the woman managed to walk into the side of a moving bus, but zooming in on her in the traffic camera video (at the point cued below) shows that she looks to be holding some sort of light-emitting object in a partially outstretched hand as she starts making her way across the intersection, which, along with not seeing the bus until she made contact with it, makes it seem like she may have been looking down at her phone instead of keeping her eyes up while attempting to cross the Scramble.

Something that makes the incident even more surprising is that signal light systems in Japan are designed with preventing this kind of accident in mind. At controlled intersections, the walk sign doesn’t come on, nor does the light for cars turn green, as soon as the signal for crossing traffic turns red. There’s a second or two where all lights are set to red/don’t walk, just in case there’s any straggling traffic that isn’t completely across the intersection yet.

Taking one last look at the traffic camera footage, we can see that the bus just barely got into the intersection before its light turned red. At a more conventionally sized/shaped crossing, this probably wouldn’t have created any problems, but between how long the Scramble is and the slight kink that comes in the middle, the walk sign had come on while the bus was still moving across the intersection, even with the all-red/don’t-walk interval built into the system.

As such, the argument could be made that the bus isn’t entirely without fault in what happened. On the other hand, all of the other people who’d been waiting to cross the road, including those who were closer to the bus than the woman was when the walk light came on, were able to avoid colliding with the vehicle, so it seems like a little more attentiveness could have prevented the accident.

Regardless of how responsibility should be parceled out, though, the lesson remains the same. While crossing the Shibuya Scramble is a quintessential Tokyo experience, it’s one that also comes with all the risks of navigating a busy intersection, so make sure to keep your eyes up and stay alert as you make your way across.

Source: FNN Prime Online, Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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