Shibuya (渋谷), one of the most popular areas of Tokyo, is the go-to neighborhood for entertainment, shopping and fashion, and cuisine (both local and international).
It’s also home to the iconic scramble crossing (you’ll definitely want to take a photo—here’s how to do it). It would be a shame to come to Tokyo and not take a walk across the famous intersection outside Shibuya Station.
On sunny afternoons or clear evenings, the surrounding area is packed with shoppers, students, young couples and commuters. When the lights turn red at this busy junction, they all turn red at the same time in every direction.
Traffic stops completely and pedestrians surge into the intersection from all sides, like marbles spilling out of a box.
Shibuya: it’s the hood with everything. Cutting-edge fashion boutiques, world-class nightclubs, unbeatable CD shops, hip bars, dining options ranging from fancy washoku (Japanese foods) eateries to dirt-cheap diners.
If you want it, you can probably find it here. But with so much to choose from, where on earth should you start?
Where to Eat & Drink
Shibuya has plenty of offerings to tickle your taste buds. The station alone gives you plenty to choose from, and once you take a step outside you’ll be overwhelmed with even more options.
Since you’re in Japan, you probably want to have authentic Japanese food, and not the “Japanese” sushi you buy for lunch at the grocery store back home.😋
As one of Tokyo’s big youth culture hubs, there are also some hip and trendy dining options. Continuing with the authentic Japanese theme, try the kaiten sushi (sushi that comes out on a rotating conveyor belt) .
And of course if you say hipster, we say cafe, and Shibuya’s got you covered with some of the best and trendiest coffee joints.
Nowadays there are some big diet trends overseas: veganism, juice cleanse, whatever will help you lose that extra weight. For those with special diets that are struggling amidst this fish/meat-crazy country, traditional Japanese cuisine (washoku) is a good choice, but if you want your diet the cool way, one of the rare vegan restaurants Nagi Shokudo is also in Shibuya.
If you’re missing home or sick of Japanese food (but why would you be, it’s delicious), Tokyo is actually a capital of international cuisine. Don’t want to shell out yen at a Michelin? We’ve found some cheap and delicious foreign restaurants like Pizza Slice.🙂
What to see
◉ A symbol of loyalty
Hachikō, an Akita dog, was born in 1923 and sold to a well to do family in Tokyo while still a puppy. The father of this family, Eisaburo Ueno, a Tokyo University professor in his 50’s, loved Hachiko very much and doted on him constantly, taking him for long walks, always brushing him, and even taking baths with him inside the home. He treated him truly as one of the family.
Up until Hachiko was two years old, he always walked to the station with the father and after the father went through the stalls he would go home by himself. But, then he would return every day to wait outside the stalls to meet the father coming home. All the locals and train station people knew this man and this dog had a special bond.
One day however, the father died while he was teaching at the university. Hachiko went to pick him up but he never came. And, Hachiko never stopped waiting. Every day for about 10 or 11 years he went and waited.
The story was picked up and popularized by Japanese newspapers, and Hachiko became a minor celebrity while he still lived, attending the inauguration of his own statue in 1934. He passed away the next year, but his story lives on — and you can still pay him a visit in the collections of the National Science Museum in Ueno.
- Hachikō (ハチ公). A diminutive statue of a dog tucked away in one corner of the big plaza outside the station, best known as a meeting place and for the story. It is also the name of one of the many exits from Shibuya Station and the prime meeting place before a night out. Just hanging out near Hachiko for a while will give you some great people-watching opportunities.
- Center Street (センター街 Sentaa-gai). The narrow street leading away from the station to the left of the giant video screen, it’s famous as the birthplace of many of Japan’s youth fashion trends. Center Gai is jam-packed with clothing stores, music stores, and video game arcades. This is a great place to stroll and feel the Shibuya vibe.
- Bunkamura. A complex featuring an excellent art museum, in addition to theaters for film and stage plays. On the basement floor there’s an art and design bookstore as well as a branch of Paris’ famous Les Deux Magots café.
- Hikarie . Hikarie is a brand new massive building on the East side of Shibuya station with many restaurants, galleries, and theaters.
What to Do
If people-watching at Scramble Crossing doesn’t do enough for you…what should you do next?
As for things to do that require spending in Shibuya, there’s shopping, shopping, and shopping. 😄 Seriously, the area truly lives up to its reputation as a mecca for youth fashion and culture—a shopaholic’s paradise.
The young women’s fashion building Shibuya 109 towers over the area as a testament to this fact. Trendy department stores, most of which belong to either Tokyu or Seibu, as well as other popular fashion brand stores line the streets.
Another popular area is the self-explanatory Love Hotel Hill. If you and your friend want to take your time to unwind during the day or night, check into one of the many offerings. But first, make sure you can love your partner and read the price information to you pay for a room.
Yoyogi Park, frequently holds events and some fun festivals (matsuri).
- SBY, (in 109 building, on the eighth floor). If you fill out a questionnaire, you can get 3 kind of things. It’s a free. And you can put on makeup free.
- Loft, (near Tokyu building). Loft is Seibu’s answer to Tokyu Hands, also offering a large array of products related to interior, hobby, crafts and gifts, but with a slightly less strong emphasis on do-it-yourself. The Loft Shibuya branch consists of seven floors.
- Tokyu Hands. Promoted as “Creative Life Store”, Tokyu Hands has everything from do-it-yourself, interior, hobby, crafts, outdoors to stationery and more. The Shibuya store spans eight floors.
Anime & Manga
- Mandarake, Massive shop devoted to manga, anime, hentai, dojinshi, figurines and collectible offshoots.
- NHK Studio Park. Studio sightseeing operation run by the national broadcaster NHK, home to a gift shop selling the widest collection of Domo-kun figures on the planet.
Shibuya is the center of Japanese youth culture and it shows.😙
- PARCO. Two 11 story buildings home to youth culture and fashion.
- 0101 (Marui).
- 109 Building (Ichi-maru-kyu).
- Ebisu, the next stop south on the JR Yamanote Line, is a quieter and more sophisticated version of the Shibuya scene.
- Shimokitazawa, just two stops down the Keio Inokashira line, offers trendy shops, restaurants and watering holes in a slightly less frenetic atmosphere.
- Kichijoji, at the other end of the Inokashira Line, has more of the same plus a park famed for its cherry blossoms.
Where to Stay
Being in the middle of it all, Shibuya is naturally a great place to stay while you’re in Tokyo. We recommend checking some hotel info sites first to see if there are any discount deals for accommodations in Tokyo.
However, don’t forget, there’s always Love Hotel Hill in Shibuya.😏