Shibuya Starbucks

Cyclist, Shibuya, Tokyo

Did a lot of walking round Tokyo in the hot summer sunshine when I was there last. There's just so many places to go to, and so much to see, that you really can't keep in one place for too long. Well, I couldn't, but then I do have that problem when travelling. Just can't be satisfied with where I am, I need to see what's round the next corner - same as when I watch TV, channel-flipping every thirty seconds, totally obsessive-compulsive. The great thing in Tokyo: whatever's round that next corner is always going to be interesting.

The problem with my channel-flipping style, though, is that you literally can't go on forever. There's going to be a time in your day when your energy levels bottom out, and you need somewhere to regroup and refuel.

My favourite spot for this, in the middle of the day, was Starbucks. Boringly. But not just any Starbucks. The Starbucks in Shibuya, overlooking one of the busiest intersections in the world, where 1500 pedestrians cross the road each time the traffic lights change.

The thing about people in Tokyo is that they're just interesting. There are a load of different styles and cultural subgroups, and how you dress is a very important way of identifying which group you're in. Gothic, cosplay, kimono, punk, post-punk, arthouse, modern, 1920's, salaryman, pretty much any style you can think of you'll see walking round, and all pulled off really well. Here in Hong Kong, people don't have the same sense of style, and most of the street culture here is pretty monolithic - folks aren't creative about how they dress. There is some punk and very rarely some cosplay/dress-up, but you can tell the people are doing dress-by-numbers from a magazine. In Tokyo, you can tell people really live their subgroup. They don't look out of place at all.

The best place to see this, of course, is Harajuku, not Shibuya. But in Shibuya I could sit on the second floor of the Starbucks, armed with a 70-300mm, and drink my coffee while waiting for interesting things to happen. When they do, you just need to lift and shoot, and then go back to your coffee. With the crop sensor on the Nikon D50, I was able to get even closer to the action.

And when I got tired of people watching, there was a great Tsutaya to go and rifle through, looking for all the music that's hard to find in Hong Kong Records: Booka Shade, Justin Robertson, whatever I looked for, I could find. Pity there was only so much I could buy.

Kimono shoppers, Shibuya, Tokyo