The Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan is said to be the busiest intersection in the world. Here, you will witness a conflux of people crossing and swarming the street from all directions, then mingling in the middle, trying to get from one side to the other while fighting their way through the barrage of pedestrians. There’s a good reason why it’s also referred to as the “The Scramble.”
For better appreciation, here is a LIVE video of the Shibuya Crossing. Yes, it’s live, so you can see what is actually going on in Shibuya as you watch. (*Note: Make sure you wait for the bit when people are actually crossing.)
Visiting Shibuya and the Shibuya Crossing was one of the things I was looking forward to the most in our trip. There is literally a wealth of things to do in Shibuya, and one night there is not enough, but for our first night at least, I already knew exactly what I wanted to do:
- Have a photo taken with Hachiko, the dog who has touched the hearts of people around the world because of his incredible loyalty. He patiently waited every day for more than nine years in front of the Shibuya Station for his master to return from work. Unfortunately, Hachiko was unaware that his master had already died a long time ago from a cerebral hemorrhage and would never return home. (This is the part where you shed a tear.)
- Be part of the action (and be part of history) at the Shibuya Crossing
Well, apparently, Mike had one more activity planned for Shibuya:
3. Get engaged in the middle of the Shibuya Crossing
Yes, as in, get down on one knee and ask me to marry him in the most frantic pedestrian crossing in the planet. It was hard to imagine someone kneeling in the midst of all that madness, when walking was already enough of a struggle!
People have asked me if I had any idea that he was going to pop the question, or to be more precise, if I knew that he was going to pop the question in Japan. The answer is (*snorts*) “Haha! No!” Here’s why:
- I was the one who made the ENTIRE itinerary. And I only got to finish and print it the night before our flight, so how else will he have the time to plan a proposal when (I bet) he didn’t even bother reading my super detailed / OCD-charged itinerary?
- We had a little pre-flight fight. Right before our 5:25 AM flight, I came all the way from Tagaytay to host an out-of-town wedding. Because I was so anxious (pre-trip jitters + pre-wedding hosting jitters + ZERO sleep), I completely forgot to update him of my whereabouts. So when I got home, he was absolutely pissed that I did not even send one text message just to let him know that I was okay. It was sweet of him to worry, and wrong of me not to text. My bad!
- My mom didn’t accidentally spill the beans. Unlike some moms who know about the forthcoming proposal, my mom did not send me suspicious text messages like “As soon as you get there, tell me everything that happened! I want to know EVERYTHING! (hugs!) I’m so happy for you! I’m going to miss you! (sobs)” Geez, mom, I’ll only be gone for a week. It’s just Japan! (My mom did send me this text message though: “Have fun. Don’t fight during your trip. And don’t make any bomb jokes at the airport. You’ll go to jail for that.”)
- There were no signs. Nothing! I must say, Mike is a pretty awesome actor.
What I did know was that both Mike and I wanted to get married by 2015. We both openly discuss our future plans, and have always known that marriage was something that was going to happen for us very soon. I just didn’t expect it to be that soon! And I certainly did not expect it to happen on our very first day in Japan!
According to our friend Paula, the “plan” actually started to materialize (without me knowing it) even before we got to Shibuya. Before Shibuya, we (Mike, Paula, Eric, and I) first had dinner in Harajuku and I was hell-bent on getting one of those famous Harajuku crêpes for dessert. Because Mike wanted me to be happy, and he wanted the mood to be happy, he indulged me, gave in to my cravings, and treated me to a delicious crêpe. Well, that made me happy, alright!
Then we moved on to Shibuya, where, unbeknownst to me, my life was going to change forever.
We finally got out of the Shibuya station exit and I was immediately overpowered by the brightness and dynamism of Shibuya. The deluge of people, the vehicles moving from every corner, the huge television screens flashing from each edifice, the luminous billboards and buildings — there was no question. I WAS OH SO IN TOKYO!
I was getting closer to the seeing the statue of Hachiko, and was about to cross that off my bucket list, when Mike saw this funny-looking sculpture of three Bronze babies, and decided to take a photo with it. At this point, I still had no idea what was about to happen.
I apologize for the blurry shots that you will see next. I love my camera to bits (a Sony RX100 II, a gift from Mike) and it usually performs really well, but I guess it just couldn’t handle the flurry of the Shibuya Crossing! (Or maybe I was using the wrong settings?)
I thought it was only my photos that were going to be blurry, but as it turns out, the episode after taking those photos was going to be a blur too!
So like I said, I was dead set on taking a photo of and with the Hachiko statue, so I insisted on doing that first. But Mike and Paula were going, “Let’s just do that later!” I didn’t understand why they wanted to postpone it when the statue was just inches away from us, but I didn’t want to argue anymore so I conceded. However, I bargained, “Wait, let’s have our photo taken while we’re crossing first!” And again, Mike said, “Later! Let’s cross first!” Ugh! I sulked like a little child for about 2 seconds but went with his suggestion anyway. No wonder they were so eager to hold off the Hachiko photo-op, because THIS was about to happen:
And just like that, we were engaged!
Did you know that “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” was shot at the Shibuya Crossing? But nothing was FASTER and more FURIOUS than Mike’s proposal! As you can see, it all happened in a flash. Everything was a blur. When Mike grabbed me from behind and said “Fluffball…” while looking straight into my eyes, that’s when I knew. I don’t know why, but I just knew. But as my heart pounced – and not just because of the adrenaline in the streets – while Mike was declaring his love for me, all I heard was this:
Mike: “Fluffball… blah blah blah”
Me (in my head): “Oh my god, oh my god, he’s proposing…”
Mike: “Yada yada yada…”
Me (in my head): “Oh my god, he’s actually proposing!”
So that’s what being proposed to feels like! Maybe it varies from person to person, but for me, it felt like I was experiencing an astral projection. Part of me was thinking “It’s finally happening!” while another part of me was thinking, “Is this really happening?!” Plus, the hordes of people passing and all the bright lights flashing made everything feel more trippy!
When we were on our initial stages of being in a relationship, I told Mike that my “ideal” proposal would have the following:
- My mom’s blessing – she should know about the proposal first before it actually happens
- Creativity – it didn’t have to involve a flash mob or a full brass band, but I just wanted something that was representative of who we were as a couple
- Good documentation – because in my euphoric state, I might not remember everything that happened or was said. True enough, having photos and videos of the proposal helped me relive the events that happened that night!
For the sake of those who can’t hear what was being said, here’s a blow-by-blow account of what really happened:
I call Paula (who I refer to as “Mimi”) and signal her and Eric to start crossing, and she says “Game!” Both their camera and phone were up the whole time, and I thought they were merely taking pictures of the scenery, just like me.
Then we got to the middle and, to my surprise, Mike grabbed me from behind and said:
Mike: “Fluffball… you are the sunshine of my life, and as sure as the tide, I will always want you in my life.” (At this point, as you can tell from my funny facial expression, all my insides were in a state of shock, but were also having a little internal party)
Mike: (kneels) “Fluffball…” (brings out a ring box from out of his pocket, while Paula‘s high-pitched scream is heard in the background)
Nadine: “Ay!!! Baka masagasaan tayo!” (“Ay!!! We might get run over!”)
Mike: “Will you marry me?”
Nadine: “Are you serious?!” (Mike nods)
Paula (to Eric): “Picturan mo!” (“Take their photo!”)
Random pedestrians check out the scene. I hear someone excitedly say, “It is!” (perhaps to someone else who asked “Is that a proposal?!”). Some of them steal a delighted glance at us while running to the opposite side of the street. As Mike was slipping the ring on my finger, a sweet elderly Caucasian couple claps and cheers us on, and my unladylike self couldn’t help but go “Wooohoooo!!!” back at them. I totally forgot to even say “Yes!” to Mike when he asked “Will you marry me?” but I’m sure he took that “Wooohoooo!!!” as a “yes!”
Mike gets up, and I give him a big hug as I giggle and squeal like a little girl, with Paula still shrieking incessantly. In the elation and excitement of it all, Mike and I completely forgot that we were still standing right smack in the middle of the intersection! We had not realized that the traffic lights have turned green and the vehicles were already approaching us until Paula frantically said, “Andyan na yung cars! Balik tayo!” (“The cars are coming! Let’s go back!”) Hahaha! It would have been tragic to get engaged and then get hit by a car only seconds later!
In all fairness to the drivers, they actually waited patiently and politely for us to have our moment, snap out of it, and get to the other side of the street. Some of them actually stopped for us while some just avoided us entirely. I guess they were happy for us too because they didn’t honk their horns at us or yell “get the f*ck out of the way!!!” Haha! Japanese people are so awesome! If this proposal took place in EDSA in Manila, the four of us would have already been bulldozed by buses like a bunch of stray cats.
As you continue watching the video, you’ll see that it gets shaky as we all run back to safety to the corner of the street. You’ll also hear a monkey making screeching noises… but there was no monkey. That was just me, going “Whaaaat?! Whaaat?! Oh my gooood! Wooohoooo!” with Mike laughing and Paula still doing that supportive screaming.
Finally, we reach the side of the road, and Mike and I share a long embrace. As he held me close, I started to tear up a little and Paula goes “Aww, Mimi!” (She calls me “Mimi” too. Long story.) I realized I wanted to take a photo of the pretty ring on my finger then remembered “Hindi ako nagpa-manicure!” (“I didn’t get a manicure!”) Haha! I was totally unprepared!
Mike gives me a kiss, and he touches and soothes my face (something he does that I absolutely love). Still in disbelief, I ask, “Really”? He says “yes,” and I say, “So when are we getting married? Wahaha!” (My irritating cackle totally ruined the sweet moment).
Mike replies, without any hesitation: “Next year!”
“Yayyy!” I exclaim happily. Then I asked, “Does my mom know about this?” Mike said before that he was going to talk to my mom first anyway even if I didn’t ask him to. So when he nodded, I shrieked in happiness again! Everything was just perfect!
Paula and Eric cheered for us again, and Paula said, “Okay, pre-nup na dito! Hahaha!” (“Okay, have your pre-nup photo shoot here now! Hahaha!”) I joked, “Sana sinabihan niyo ako, ginandahan ko mga damit ko!” (“I wish you had told me about this, I would have brought nicer clothes!”) Haha!
Mike and I are going to be forever grateful to Paula and Eric for helping make all of this happen, and for documenting this crazy / sweet / fun / death-defying proposal! They were able to keep everything under wraps not only on that day but even for months before the proposal! They even risked their lives by capturing the moment in the middle of a wild intersection. True friends will die for you, and that’s what they (almost) did!
It took a while before everything started to really sink in. After the proposal, we went on to explore Shibuya, and that’s when I started asking questions.
Nadine: “When did you plan all this?”
Mike: “Around the time after we booked a ticket to Japan. Even before my mom and brother visited (from Australia) last September (2014). When they got here, I told them I was going to propose in Japan. They were really excited about it.”
Nadine: “When did you tell my mom? How did you tell her?
Mike: “When she came over to our house to drop some stuff off. We were in her car, and I told her, ‘Tita D, I’m going to ask Nadine to marry me in Japan. I would like to ask for your blessing.’ She was so happy that she started to cry.”
Nadine: “Who else knew about this?”
Mike: “My mum, your mom, my bro, Tita Bochay, Paula, and Eric.”
Nadine: “Were you nervous?”
Mike: “I was more nervous about other things, like losing the ring, or being denied entry in Japan and not getting to propose here.”
Nadine: “When did even find time to buy the ring?”
Mike: “It was one day when you were at work. Tita Bochay (his aunt) helped me shop for a ring. But the ring is too big! And to think, I already got the second smallest size. I didn’t realize you have such baby hands!”
Speaking of the ring…
…I told Mike that if he was planning on proposing to me, I didn’t want an expensive engagement ring because he can use the money for other more important things. So he got me this: not an expensive ring, but a precious one because of its meaning. It looks like a sun AND a sunflower. Mike used to call me his “sunshine” during the first few months we were dating because of my sunny disposition and how I bring light to his life. And as for the sunflower bit, for our first Halloween as a couple, I went as the Sunflower from Plants vs. Zombies while he went as a Zombie. On our flight back home, he told me that this was just a “temporary” ring and that if I still want a diamond ring, he can get one for me. But why would I want a diamond when I already have the sun?! I love my “Symbolic Sunflower”! And it looks like a pretty heirloom ring, doesn’t it?
(continuation of the interrogation)
Nadine: “But how could you have possibly planned all this when I didn’t even get to finish the itinerary until last night?”
Mike: “I just knew that I wanted to do it at the Shibuya Crossing, and I knew that we were gonna go one of these days, and since we went tonight, then it happened tonight!”
Nadine: “Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said when you were proposing. What did you say again?”
Mike: “You weren’t listening!”
Nadine: “I was! But I was too shocked to absorb everything!”
Mike: “I said, ‘Fluffball, you are the sunshine of my life, and as sure as the tide, I will always want you in my life. Will you marry me?'”
Nadine: “It’s a good thing you didn’t prepare a long, dramatic poem! Otherwise, we wouldn’t have made it out of there in time! Haha!”
I remember still feeling a little stunned minutes after the proposal. Paula even caught me in a state of trance. Haha! I was just so overwhelmed, not only because of the proposal per se, but with the thought that Mike went out of his way to plan everything for me. He orchestrated a wonderful proposal because he knew that that would make me happy. Suddenly, everything came back to me — the first time we met, our first dates, the time when we said our goodbyes in tears at the airport as he left for Australia, the time when we joyfully reunited in the Philippines after 3 months of being apart. The flash flood of memories washed over me, and I realized how all the little puzzle pieces of our lives magically came together and led us to this particular moment. My heart was brimming with so much happiness at the thought that I will be spending the rest of my life with my soulmate, my best friend. my greatest love.
After the engagement ecstasy simmered down a little, I asked, “Okay, now may I take a photo of Hachiko?” Mike, Eric, and Paula said “yes” and so we went back to the site where the bronze sculpture of the famous loyal dog was erected.
Unfortunately, my one and only photo with Hachiko kind of sucked, but I was still too overjoyed from the proposal to even care!
A lot of my photos from our first stop in Shibuya are hazy, just like the scenes of the proposal. But despite a lot of the images being blurry that night, one thing was crystal clear: sharing a life and future with Mike will always be my favorite adventure.