If the street corner just outside the Takanawa gate from Shinagawa Station, south of central Tokyo, isn’t the world’s busiest thoroughfare, it has to be at least a competitor. It’s hard to imagine New York, London, Seoul or Mumbai exceeding it.
At nearly any hour, Shinagawa teems. Even in this hyper-polite society, the flow is speedy and brusque; you stop walking or run your suitcase into someone’s foot at your peril. It’s daunting and exciting all at once.
Of course, it’s the train station that is chiefly responsible for this mass of humanity. But it has help: giant hotels and glass-sided office buildings, department stores, pedestrian bridges over the streets — it’s like a huge, living Richard Scarry book, with everyone and everything going.
And yet, mere metres away are little oases from the noise, the heat: a downstairs sushi bar or a streetside Thai café, even a semi-open-air McDonald’s.
My favorite escape, though, isn’t away from the bustle at all. Instead, it’s right next to it, pillared by two office buildings. The small Buddhist temple sits serenely amid the traffic roars and horn honks, the train sounds and the exhaust fumes. I make a point of walking over from my hotel every trip to drop some coins in the box and pray thanks for a safe outbound journey, then hope for similar blessings inbound.
Copyright 2013 Adam Barr