Media and other technologies, as well as individuals, texts, and institutions, each have different potentialities and means of transforming and re-presenting urban space and time and its power geometries.

Shibuya is located in the southwest pocket of central city Tokyo on the traditionally affluent western high ground, the yamanote of Edo times.

Although Tokyo lacks a “downtown” in the western sense, it does contain within itself a number of extraordinarily dense and thriving satellite feeder “cities” such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro, many of which are located on the central JR (Japan Rail) Yamanote loop line.

For a huge number of Tokyo’s sizeable population they are also a crucial nodal point connecting the spaces of work, leisure, and home; as such they are sites of rapid in- and out-flows of bodies of commuters and visitors (Shibuya is ranked second after Shinjuku as the busiest commuter rail station in the world).

The spatial organization of Shibuya generally matches the standardized urban morphology found in a range of similar Japanese city districts. This consists of a central railway station acting as a hub to clusters of retail areas, amusement quarters, business office blocks, a love hotel area, and then a peripheral belt of residential apartment housing.

It is perhaps most usefully understood as a contemporary manifestation of the Japanese historical urban form of the sakariba, literally a “place where many people come together”, an uplifting place of crowds and excitement, a site where older ritual forms of festivity and commercial activity have been recast in a modern consumerist guise.


This is a segment from Un/Wrapping Shibuya: Place, Media, and Punctualization. Space and Culture.

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