“Lost in Tokyo”

Tokyo, Japan. November 2018 – February 2019 (18 photos)

This is part 13 of my Japan 2018-19 photo series.

Japan has an estimated population of about 127 million, and approximately 13.8 million live in Tokyo. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with over 38 million people. The city of Tokyo has no true CBD but has often been described as several cities in close proximity joined by an efficient railway system. Whether you’re lost within the human crush, dwarfed by the skyscrapers, immersed in the local culture, taken by the serenity of the shrines, adapting to local customs or simply lost in translation, it’s easy to get lost in Tokyo and that is perhaps the best way to discover and experience it. Here are some photos from my 16 days worth of wanderings, somewhere lost in Tokyo…

Above, a man stands still lost in thought as people rush about him. I took this inside Shibuya Station and the mural behind him is entitled, “Myth of Tomorrow”. Created in 1967-1969 for a client in Mexico, the mural by Japanese artist Tarō Okamoto, was lost for decades before being found, restored and brought to Tokyo. It depicts the tragic explosion of an atomic bomb. In it, a skeleton erupts into flames, trailed by a train of ghosts and others humans running from the fire.

“Above Shibuya Crossing”

I’ve mentioned Shibuya Crossing before. It’s supposedly the busiest pedestrian intersection in the world. At peak times, an estimated 2500 people cross at the change of lights.

“Ready, Set, Go”

Shibuya Crossing features in the movie, Lost in Translation.

“Hug time, big guy!”

Initially I hesitated but then I relented at the Toyokawa Inari Shrine. It would have been rude if I didn’t. πŸ™‚


Tokyo isn’t only about modern.

“Little Peeing Monk”

I was waiting for a train at Hamamatsucho Station when I saw this statue on the opposite side of the tracks. I decided to miss my train and walked across the bridge to take some photos. Apparently station staff change his costume regularly.

“Entering Shinjuku Station”

Of the world’s 50 busiest train stations, all but 6 are in Japan. In fact, Shinjuku Station is documented as the world’s busiest train station, used by an average of 3.64 million people per day (yes, per day) in 2007. The station itself has 36 platforms, including an underground arcade, above ground arcade and numerous hallways. There are well over 200 exits. Another 17 platforms (53 total) can be accessed through hallways to 5 directly connected stations without surfacing outside.

One time, I spent 10 minutes actually lost inside the station, not able to find the exit I was looking for. After Shinjuku, Shibuya Station is the second busiest station in Tokyo and the world.

“Shinjuku Reflections”

Shinjuku hosts the main skyscraper district in Tokyo and also featured in the movie, Lost in Translation.

“Above Shinjuku”

As seen from the Metropolitan Government Building which has free observation decks.

“Omoide Yokocho”

Also known as Memory Lane or Piss Alley, this set of narrow lanes hosts over 60 small food shops, mostly with narrow counters and hardly enough room to move in. It’s located in Shinjuku, barely a couple of minutes away from Shinjuku Station, and a world away in ambience. A true lost in Tokyo experience.

“Remember me?”

“Somewhere lost in Harajuku”

“Somewhere lost in Asagaya”

“Somewhere lost in Ogikubo”

In or near the suburb of Ogikibo I came across this tiny structure which I could only assume to be someone’s house.

“Have a nice day”

Somewhere lost in Omotesando Hills.

“Somewhere lost in Koenji”

On this particular day I just decided to catch a train and head out west to a random suburban area.

“It pays to get lost”

The staff didn’t speak a word of English, but it turns out they sold some of the best Japanese sweets and desserts I’ve tasted.

“Snoopy loves Woodstock”

A small shrine in Koenji.

This is part 13 of my Japan 2018-19 photo series.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Lost in Tokyo


58 thoughts on “Lost in Tokyo

  1. Brilliant captures all round, Dragon. Can’t pick a favourite. I always thought of Tokyo as one big city, all the different areas blending into one. It is quite amazing how Japan has most of the busiest train stations in the world, and it runs on time to the second and well-maintained. Through your shots I think you make Japan look animated and highlight how the country pays attention to detail – like the comical statue at the train station, the happy-looking frogs by the street, the happy face postbox (?) and the sneaky shot of Snoopy.

    I take that the ‘No Sexual Services’ sign was literal. Did you manage to visit a Love Hotel?

    • Thank you very much. Tokyo and Japan are just full of fabulous photographic moments. You’re very right, the trains are incredibly efficient, including electronic notices inside carriages telling you how long to every stop, what interconnecting lines are at each station and which side of the train to get out from. And no-one pushes in because in peak hour the next train will arrive in about 2 minutes.

      There are many facets to life in Japan, but several times I did have the feeling I was part of a living cartoon. Yes, there are many feel good statues and manga/cartoon characters scattered around.

      As for the “No Sexual Services” sign, if you were to take the name of the store literally, you would assume there were such services there. It’s actually a provocative streetwear clothing store.

      No Love Hotel or Capsule Hotel for me, although I did walk by a few. πŸ™‚

      • I remember some time last year Japan made headlines for a train departing a few seconds of schedule. The country is that punctual. No pushing is amazing, not like what we have here in Australia train stations during peak hour.

        I think you described it well and hit the nail on the head – part of a living in a cartoon. Lol, I totally interpreted the sign wrong. The Love Hotels I’ve seen on YouTube look fancy.

        • Getting on trains is quite an organised and civil affair, compared to Australia. Funnily, I accidentally jumped the queue one time waiting for a train. Immediately I felt intense remorse and went to the end of the line.

          Yes, the Love Hotels are an interesting concept, particularly with their “themed” rooms. πŸ™‚

  2. Such fine captures of Tokyo! 13 million people places it among the most crowded cities in the world, but your photos suggest that there could be many more living there.

  3. That crossing would frighten me to no end! Just too too many people but sometimes getting lost can be fun providing it’s a safe kind of lost. Such interesting scenes but that one “No sexual services” what was that about???

  4. I really like your lead-off image for this post, that is my favorite. I was wondering about the “no sexual services” sign, considering there was a pink bunny involved, but I read your comment to Mabel, so I understand now, the photo made me laugh though.

    • Thank you very much. He actually stood there for quite a while. But it wasn’t peak hour so it was a matter of waiting for enough people to come walking by.
      Yes, it’s a clothing store with a name you can’t say in polite company. I thought it was funny as well.

  5. Oh how I loved getting lost with you in Tokyo, Draco. Admittedly, it would make me too nervous to do in real life, but travelling through your exquisite photos, and your calming dialogue, made this visit exceptional. I love the details of your photos: the Japanese maple leaves in Memory Lane, the red lights on the pavement in “Above Shibuya Crossing,” and many many more. Your brilliant capture of the hustle and bustle, congestion, and culture here was a great gift, thank you.

    • Thanks for taking a quick tour through Tokyo with me, Jet. There are so many sides to Tokyo, it was quite an amazing experience. Yes, there are massive crowds and at peak hour the trains are packed like sardines, but everyone remains orderly and courteous. There are so many hidden treasures as well. Thanks for appreciating the smaller details.

  6. Please don’t say a word about Japanese sweets. I can’t bear to be reminded of them when I don’t have some at home.

    Another of those questions: where did you take the aerial view of Shibuya crossing from? I wasn’t able to find anything this clear.

    • I shouldn’t have indulged as much as I did at that desserts and sweets shop but I was on holidays, they gave me a nice smile and I like to support local businesses. πŸ™‚

      The aerial view was from the 25th floor of my hotel, Shibuya Excel Tokyo. It’s the restaurant floor and because I was a guest they let me set up my tripod at the window, even though I wasn’t eating at the restaurant.

        • True, and the Limousine Bus from Haneda Airport goes directly to/from this hotel. For similar reasons I like a particular hotel in Shinjuku. But I specifically stayed there to get the photographic access above the Crossing. Non-guests aren’t allowed to set up tripods and stand there for about 15 minutes like I did. πŸ™‚

  7. Nice bunny rabbit photo. Uh huh. No city evokes a swarm of humanity like Tokyo. As much as that’s intimidating for me, huge Asian cities somehow manage to keep their serenity. As I mentioned before, I just had a short stopover in Taipei. Got myself gloriously lost in a local area. It was a bit run down, but, as usual, this made it so full of character. I was so captivated by all the tiny little shops and stalls in the indoor alleys, and the people who ran them. They each had such distinct personalities. I could have spent days just wandering around taking it all in. Good to see you accepted the hug. Ain’t no shame. Even dragons need love!

    • It’s very interesting what you say about your time in Taipei because that’s how I felt in many parts of Tokyo, and in Cuba now that I think about it. The ability to just get lost and immersed in a culture is a lot of what travel is about. Some of my friends weren’t surprised I went back to Japan after only 3 months. It’s one of “those” places for me.

      As for the wabbit (Woman-rABBIT), well I do admit I stared for a bit. πŸ™‚

  8. I have not visited Tokyo but your photos have shown me many aspects of the city; the crowded streets, the movement of the people, the back roads, the entertaining statues and signs, the whole atmosphere and color of this city. Wonderful.

  9. The Japanese do the best sweets that aren’t too sweet and they’re gorgeous, too. The Little Peeing Monk? Yikes! Of course there’s the Manneken Pis in Brussels, so same idea, different culture. That little house is quite..small!


    • Just a matter of timing I think. The time I was in a particular spot and the timing of pressing the shutter. I’ve got a mix of chaotic crowd shots and quiet times shots to choose from. πŸ™‚

  10. Meg Philp says:

    Thanks Draco for so many quirky aspects of Tokyo city.’ Memory Lane’ shots did remind me of the movie “Blade Runner.” Think that first shot is a cracker! M

    • My pleasure, Meg. I was lucky that guy just stood still for several minutes. πŸ™‚ Memory Lane and similar yokocho lanes are a completely different experience to modern Tokyo, particularly at night.

  11. Heide says:

    Your posts are so immersive that it’s jarring sometimes to get to the end and realize I’m still in Minnesota β€” and this series is particularly evocative because you capture so many different aspects of life. Loved your first image especially, although Shibuya Crossing and the pink bunny are marvelous too. And speaking of photos: I’ve posted some of Mont St. Michel especially for you! Thank you for providing the encouragement to get off my posterior and publish those already.

    • Thank you very much. I’m thrilled I could practically take you into Tokyo and then get you home again. πŸ™‚ It’s such an amazing city. The big decision to be made there is, when to sleep?

  12. I so admire how you captured the paradox that is Tokyo, intermixing the busyness with tranquility, the kitsch with the sublime, and that feeling one can have of perpetually being lost in the city with all that word entails.

  13. Love the serendipity of the man standing still whilst everyone rushed (and you photographed) and the little peeing monk. You’ve great eye for the detail dear Wood Dragon!

    • Thank you kindly. I love the idiosyncrasies in Japanese life and culture and the little peeing monk ticked the right box. πŸ™‚ Serendipity is the perfect description for that and other moments in Japan.

  14. Oh I can’t imagine 2500 people using a crossing at one time …! Wonderful images Mr Draco. Those alley shots are my favourites, incredible to think that Shinjuku station isn’t far away ..

  15. Your atmospheric post has brought back many memories, though you have highlighted many things I didn’t see. I think I may have crossed at Shibuya Crossing – now I understand why it was so unsettling! I am not very good with crowds. It’s an amazing culture though – I feel blessed to have experienced it, looking back.

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