Want to see what’s going on in Tokyo right this very minute? Here’s a selection of some of the best live webcams. All of the cameras are running in real time (none of that “updates every ten seconds” nonsense), and you can control them yourself. Just click on the images below and away you go.
Now, you may think that people only use umbrellas when it’s raining. You would be wrong. In Tokyo it is now perfectly acceptable to use them at the merest whiff of the wet stuff. This has lead to the phenomenon of Mass Umbrellaism, where large groups of people open umbrellas before exiting train stations, supermarkets and shopping centres.
Scientists believe that many Tokyoites – sucked in to the alternate realities that mobile phones and Nintendo DSs provide – are so distrustful of their real-life surroundings that they cannot rely on their own senses: they may be drier than a Martini in the Gobi desert but if the weather forecast says it’s raining, then it must be raining.
Tokyo’s top three Mass Umbrella hotspots:
1. Shinjuku Station’s South Exit
2. Ichigaya Station, Chiyoda
3. Hankyu/Seibu department stores, Ginza
Well, that might be overstating it somewhat, but I was interested to see that design agency Atkins has revamped Oxford Circus with a very Shibuya-esque spin. Now all that’s needed is people. Lots of people:
…it’s Tokyo Tower, innit? I finally went here on Sunday, after living in Tokyo for two and a half years (I’m quite sure it will take me another 5 years to climb Mount Fuji). Apparently it’s 9 metres taller than its French counterpart but is less than half the weight. I was expecting the observatory floor to be at the very top, but in fact it’s located around half-way up the tower. Still, even at that height, and thanks to the fact that the surrounding buildings are fairly low, I could see all of central Tokyo. It’s an absolutely amazing skyline come night-time, in fact the only time Tokyo looks truly beautiful is when the stars come out and the neon lights are switched on.
Hachiko Crossing is just outside Shibuya station. Shibuya station is the third busiest in Tokyo – after Shinjuku and Ikebukuro stations – which makes it also the third busiest station in the world, handling 2.4 million passengers each day. To put that into perspective, imagine the entire population of Birmingham using the same train station over the course of a single day. Imagine that, then add another 1.4 million people.
For the past eighteen months I’ve had to ride a Shibuya-bound rush hour train to get to work each morning which, as you can imagine, is bags of fun. From next week I’ll be working in a different area of Tokyo. The good news is my new office is slap-bang in the centre of the city, the bad news is I have to pass through Shinjuku station in order to get there. Shinjuku station is hell on earth during rush hour, thankfully I don’t have to actually get off and change trains, but will no doubt be squashed against the windows like some kind of giant bluebottle when the suited masses jump on board.
Oh, and the Starbucks Coffee shop you can see in that photo happens to be the busiest cafe in the world (Wikipedia is proving very useful today). It’s also about ¥50 more expensive than other Starbucks stores, which you can find absolutely everywhere in Tokyo these days. It makes you wonder what people did before Starbucks appeared. They probably hung around on street corners, drinking cans of “Strongbow” and sniffing marker pens.
P.S. Thanks to everyone who sent us Christmas cards and prezzies this year. So far the ones we have received have survived the journey in one piece!