Rainy Night in Shibuya

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Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, has been photographed so many times that it has become another symbol of Tokyo. It becomes quite another thing when you go on the street. A rainy night in Shibuya is quite the experience and mixes glimpses of cyberpunk experience with slices of life. You must just be willing to get wet.

Shibuya: looking at the micro level

Shibuya is often looked at from above, and the pictures or videos just try to give a view of the crossing as a mind-blowing mish-mash of people crossing each other continuously and never banging into each other.

I wanted to look closer to the individuals who cross and make Shibuya this vibrant area of Tokyo.

A young lady looks from under her umbrella as she is about to cross
A young lady looks from under her umbrella as she is about to pass on Shibuya crossing.

The rain was falling quite heavily that autumn day, yet most people went about their occupations.

A salary man texts on his phone in Shibuya
A salaryman texts on his phone in Shibuya.

From macro to micro

From a macro point of view, Shibuya is already stunning with its thousands of commuters or city dwellers crossing the streets. I have already talked about it in a previous post.

Shibuya crossing at night
Shibuya crossing at night

It almost becomes an impressionist painting during a rainy night. This is mainly due to the hue of the window through which I was shooting (the L’Occitane coffee shop which attempts to replicate the Starbucks view, much less perfectly). Nevertheless, the ballet of umbrellas under the rain was quite impressive to witness.

And then, when you zoom in on each individual, you come a cross a diversity of expressions and of looks that shows you how even a megalopolis is a collection of special individuals.

People crossing in Shibuya's rainy night
People crossing in Shibuya.

In a way, every umbrella that you see from above as a “sea of umbrellas” has its own little story.

And then… You come across the odd one without umbrella. And it was a real “film noir” atmosphere I managed to capture, with a harrowed expression in the relentless rain. A capture of a moment in time. And also a capture of a moment where we think we get a glimpse into the feelings of the man in the picture.

In the rain
A young man looks up to the rain in a noir film atmosphere.

Not only Shibuya

Shibuya crossing is a nice place to do some street photography because of the diversity and the number of people passing at any given time. But you don’t need to be in a rainy night in Shibuya to try this kind of photography. I also went photographing near Akihabara earlier in the day.

Umbrella man in Akihabara
A man with an umbrella in Akihabara

In this case, I managed to shoot a pic with a very geometric composition, in tones of grey, with a small touch of color being the green umbrella.

To give you an idea, this staircase is right in front of the Akihabara train station and is often used by salarymen going back to work.

Staircase in Akihabara
A staircase in Akihabara, Tokyo, during a rainy day.

The general grey gones are nicely vowen with the geometric forms and composition. However I like less this second picture because it is less simple than the first. There are too many distracting elements for the eye. Yet, it provides more context on the place and the period of the year (see the Christmas tree in background?).

In short, street photography is finding the right setting, and telling a story or capturing a moment through your lens. And Tokyo is just the perfect city for this.

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