Spring in Tokyo 2019: A view of Shibuya from Hoshino Coffee

COVER Shibuya - Spring in Tokyo 2019: A view of Shibuya from Hoshino Coffee

Oh, Shibuya! Home of the two busiest railway stations in the world. Headquarters of choice for most major Japanese companies. Naturally, it’s also the most crowded place I’ve been to in Japan so far. I’m not really a person who likes being in the middle of crowds for the simple reason that it’s such a hassle, so I wasn’t exactly keen on experiencing Shibuya all that much. But could one ever rightly say one has been to Tokyo without experiencing the Shibuya Crossing?

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I never quite knew what “being in the middle of a crowd” really meant until I was walking across that intersection, trying to avoid the people coming at me from all directions. Sorry if I make it sound more terrifying than it is, but really, I’m not kidding about the number of people. Like, I don’t think I’ve ever crossed a street as busy as this one. Not in New York. Not anywhere.


As expected, there were people snapping photos as they made their way across (me included), and the locals seem to take it all in stride, like all the other thousands of times I’m sure. But actually we walked the Shibuya Crossing in order to go to a place where we could watch people walking the Shibuya Crossing. There’s a popular Starbucks in this area that allows you to do this, but of course it’s always full. We didn’t want to go there. Instead, my brother found another coffee chain called Hoshino Coffee to hang out in.

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This Hoshino Coffee is actually inside the Shibuya 109 Men’s building, on the second floor. When we got there before 3, I believe it was, there was a line. Apparently this is normal for any time of the day, but the wait isn’t that long. Inside, the ambiance is homey thanks to the dark brown wood details and almost-wonky light fixtures. 

We were lucky we got the seats right by the glass facing the street, with the Hoshino Coffee sign looming above our eye level while we’re seated. I propped my phone against a sugar jar and recorded several time lapses while waiting for our order to arrive.

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Watching the Shibuya Crossing is actually quite fascinating. You feel like you’re watching a physical manifestation of seconds ticking past, of the world passing you by. It makes me wonder if the people who walk across that intersection everyday have ever realized that they cross paths on a regular basis, on their way to different destinations. Do they manage to spot a stranger’s familiar face in a sea of other faces? And if their eyes meet, do they give each other a slight nod of “well, here we are again” acknowledgement?

Or am I watching too many animes and reading too many books that I would spin a random story like that from the simple act of people crossing the street?

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I was snapped out of my reverie when our orders arrived: Hoshino’s famous Soufflé Double Pancakes (680 yen) and a Strawberry Rare Cheesecake slice (420 yen) to share, plus coffee for each of us. I forget what they ordered aside from iced coffee, but I just had a classic hot Hoshino drip coffee. Normally it’s 600 yen I believe, but because we ordered it with food during their promo period (11am to 3pm) it was only 300 yen.

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The coffee was fine, and the pancakes were good, though not as fluffy as I thought they would be. It was also a bit sweet due to the maple syrup, but when you’re in a good mood all of this becomes kind of trivial. It was only afterward that I realized we just had a fairly expensive afternoon snack for the sake of getting that Shibuya Crossing time lapse.

I can’t say I regret it.

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How to get to Hoshino Coffee:

  • From Shibuya Station, go out to ground level and look across the street to spot the Shibuya 109 building. It’s the cafe on the second floor.

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