Shibuya is the bright lights and crowds of an enormous Japanese city, with shiny shops and enticing restaurants beckoning from every nook and cranny. It’s sensory overload and culture shock at their best.
Shibuya is a youth-oriented neighborhood. Many locals over 40 avoid the place. (^ ^;) Tourists of any age almost always enjoy Shibuya, though.
The area is so impressive that many tourists do little more than wander around taking photos. This is a shame. Shibuya features some of the best dining, shopping, entertainment and nightlife in the city.
Here are some ideas for free things to do in Shibuya, an inexpensive jaunt to Tokyo’s youth mecca.
Shibuya is a hub of Japan’s “kawaii” culture and other youth trends. Discover something special!😀
1. People watch at Scramble Crossing
We can’t talk about Shibuya without mentioning the crossing, so let’s get it over with. At this famous intersection, bursting with neon and noise, every few minutes all the lights turn red to let pedestrians swarm every which way to get to their desired corner.
This is the shot you see in every movie and social media post about Tokyo. Shibuya Crossing is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. It’s one of the best spots to photograph Japan.😀
2. Peep Some Art
Want to see some contemporary art without paying museum prices? A couple of galleries are only minutes from the station. On the north side of the station, Diesel Art Gallery exhibits both domestic and international artists.
At the new(ish) Hikarie shopping center, a free gallery on the 8th floor (called “Hachi”) displays modern, contemporary, and Japanese craft art.☹️
And at Park Gallery X in the Parco building, you can see the works of contemporary Japanese artists (be sure to go to the gallery on B1F and not the museum on 3F; the gallery is free, the museum is not).😀
3. Shibuya Mark City
The Shibuya Mark City complex is composed of two towers connected to Shibuya Station that house a hotel and offices. The first 6-floors of the complex offer shopping and restaurants.
The concourse connecting the building with Shibuya Station features a well known painting called Myth of Tomorrow by Taro Okamoto that depicts the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It is common for people to arrange to meet their friends under the painting.
4. Shibuya 109
Shibuya 109 is a small but somewhat legendary mall of 10 floors in Shibuya. It’s been open since 1979 and is known for its popularity amongst women in their early 20s. Shop turnover is high as trends change from year to year. Shibuya 109 has a loud and intense environment, especially if there’s a sale.
5. Center Gai
Center Gal (Center Street) is Shibuya’s main pedestrian street. It’s lined with izakaya, shopping, karaoke and arcades. Center Gai is where you’ll find Shibuya’s youth subcultures hanging out.
6. Tokyu Hands
Tokyu Hands is a do-it-yourself store for Tokyo urbanites. It’s one of the most interesting stores in Japan. It has everything you could imagine to decorate or modify your apartment. It also has a wide selection of arts and crafts supplies. It’s what Home Depot would be like if it was run by Tokyo hipsters.
8. Tower Records
Tower Records is one of the world’s last great music stores. It’s a interesting place to check out Japanese pop culture. The top floor is one of the best English bookstores in the city ♪
9. Dance festival
A May dance festival in Shibuya inspired by the traditional dances of Kyushu Island. The Ohara Matsuri in Shibuya is a reproduction of a festival in Kagoshima of the same name.
The Kagoshima version features 20,000 dancers dancing to local folk music known as Ohara-bushi and Hanya-bushi. These styles of music are characterized by intense taiko drumming.😀
The Shibuya version of the festival has been held since 1996. The Kagoshima version dates way back to 1949.The Shibuya Ohara Matsuri is considered a friendship festival between Tokyo and Kagoshima. It’s used to promote Kagoshima tourism and cultural ties to the capital. Around 60 dance teams participate with several teams from Kagoshima joining.😀
May or June (depends on the year’s schedule)
10. Shibuya Halloween
If there’s one thing Shibuya has a lot of it’s izakaya. Every night rain or shine, weekday or weekend — thousands of people meet their friends at hachiko and head out for an evening of food, drink and conversation at izakaya.
In addition to the hundreds of Japanese style pubs (izakaya) there are a handful of western style pubs in Shibuya. They’re popular amongst foreign residents of the city and people who are attracted by the international atmosphere pubs offer.
◉ Club Asia
Club Asia is a legendary club that’s focused on various genres of electronic dance music. It’s located in Shibuya’s club district on Love Hotel Hill.
◉ Concerts (Live)
Enjoy your trip here, in Shibuya☺️