It has now been over a year since the Covid-19 pandemic started. Some countries seem to have returned to a sense of normality but many are still in crisis. One of them is Japan which issues states of emergency at regular intervals when the number of infected people increases. It means that people have to go home before 20:00 and companies ask employees to work from home.
We thought of showcasing Tokyo at night during these emergencies. Many popular tourist spots are usually buzzing 24 hours a day but since the emergencies, there are fewer people and this is probably a one-time opportunity for photographing these unique scenes. Let’s see how different Tokyo looks!
If you’re a first time visitor to Tokyo, Sensoji is definitely a must visit. Almost every foreigner visiting Japan stops by this beautiful temple. The station is quite crowded usually but as you can see here, it is very quiet and empty – almost unrecognisable.
Who would have thought that Asakusa Station would be this empty at 21:30. Fewer people are commuting to work and therefore, fewer commuters returning home too.
We walked toward the Sensoji temple and as you can see, there are almost no people. A perfect time to take gorgeous photos without anyone photobombing.
Kaminarimon is an iconic spot where everyone wants to take photos. But during the emergency, it’s only locals and some youngsters.
Stores and restaurants are expected to close at 20:00 during emergencies.
Despite receiving some government compensation, many businesses have been affected by the emergency and unfortunately, some seem to have gone under!
Tokyo known to be a sleepless city is transformed into one with no traffic or people.
Even though the lights are off at the Kaminarimon Gate, there is enough light from the shopping street to take photos under the big lantern.
The state of emergency in Japan is a form of cooperation. The rules regarding the state of emergency from May 2021 are no outings after 20:00, shops and restaurants to close at 20:00 and ban on alcohol sales. Most citizens seem to cooperate and follow these guidelines.
Further, many stores and restaurants also cooperated and remained close through the emergency.
Sensoji without the usual crowds has become desolated.
Next, we visited Tokyo Station. A transport network hub with bullet trains connecting prefectures and a business district, many people use Tokyo Station throughout the day. This station is bustling even past midnight as people hurry to catch the last train home after work.
This is Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi exit. As you can see, there are hardly any people and its only 23:15!
KITTE located right outside the station has many restaurants but even that has no customers around.
In the state of emergencies of 2021, one of the special orders to businesses by the Governor of Tokyo is to turn their lights out after curfew so that people are discouraged from going out late at night.
Many premises only seem to have entrance lights on.
Tokyo has the added burden of conducting the Olympics in two months time, preparations for which have been going on for the last five years. Even though Tokyo doesn’t seem to be ready to host and entertain travellers, it seems to have little choice at this point.
The Tokyo Station building doesn’t look majestic without the lights on and we wait patiently for things to return to normal.
Ueno Station, with its access to many museums, zoos and parks, is one of the most popular stations for foreign tourists. We visited the station at 20:00, and as you can see from the photos, there were very few people. Quite eerie!
Usually crowded, there seem to be only a handful of people returning home after work.
Even the passageways and corridors in the station were empty.
There were a few people at the station entrance but nowhere close to the usual number.
This road crossing that many people use to go to Ameyokocho or the Park only had taxis waiting.
One can’t help but feel disheartened and lonely at seeing such a sight.
Our next stop is home to the beloved Hachiko, Shibuya Station. Known as a fashion hub, it is extremely an popular spot for teenagers and youngsters. Compared to other areas, there seem to be more people here. Since restaurants are banned from serving alcohol, many people have taken to drinking on the streets with friends. Further, there have also been anti-mask protests against Covid here.
We stopped here just before midnight and there are many teenagers returning home.
At the famous Scramble Crossing, the billboards are turned off and businesses have no lights on as per emergency orders. It’s a lot darker than usual.
Most people that visit Shibuya are in their teens, twenties or thirties, and research has shown that these age groups have been less prone to being infected. Even after a year of the pandemic, youngsters still don’t seem to take things seriously.
The statue of Hachiko, where people queue to get a photo, is now empty.
For those of you who have been to Shibuya or seen videos and photos might find it hard to believe that this is the same Scramble Crossing. With no billboards lit up and surrounding office lights shut, it is a very different scene.
Although governments in Japan are currently trying to speed up the vaccination process, there is still a long way to go for the entire population to be vaccinated. It is expected that these emergencies may continue for a while.
Hopefully we will see a familiar Tokyo in the near future!
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