Top Things to do in Shibuya, Tokyo
Looking for what to do in Shibuya? Shibuya is the City of Trends, the city that doesn’t sleep. Shopping, sightseeing, entertainment, intense nightlife, and not to mention delicious cuisine–in Shibuya, you can enjoy all kinds of experiences! Shibuya is popular among locals and tourists of all ages. Your stay in Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without stopping by Shibuya, even just for a quick Instagram shot. Follow along to learn about Shibuya’s history, landmarks, what to do, and what to eat.
Before we start exploring the city, let’s step back for a moment to take a look at how this area was before becoming the place we all know and love.
Believe it or not, Shibuya started out as a rural city just outside of the outskirts of Edo, the old name for Tokyo. However, due to the expansion of Tokyo, the eastern side gradually became a residential area for the upper class. This area grew and urbanized, while the agricultural areas got smaller. This was the beginning of Shibuya’s uprise: from a rural area to a samurai residence, Shibuya gained a new reputation.
It was not until 1932 that Shibuya finally became a ward. After World War II, Washington Heights (US military facilities in Japan) was formed and Shibuya started its modernization. The rich lifestyle and culture of the United States was the cutting edge in those days, and the locals around Tokyo started to incorporate US trends. In 1964, Tokyo hosted the Olympics, and the games infused Shibuya with new vitality through new roads and expressways. The preparation for the Olympic games also saw the rise of skyscrapers around the city, shaping it into the bright, bustling metropolis it is today. But that is enough about the history, let’s move on to current day Shibuya: fashionable and trendy!
Shibuya is now one of the biggest and busiest cities in Tokyo, and there are no limits to what you can do here. Out of all of those things, we would like to start with places that you simply must visit.
Taking a picture of the famous Hachiko statue is probably on the top of every list of things to do in Shibuya. Hachiko is famous because of the sentimental story behind it: every day Hachiko, a dog, went to the station to pick up his master and continued to go for nine years after his master’s death. Hachiko is the symbol of loyalty and perseverance, two qualities that Japanese people admire.
Hachiko’s statue nowadays is a common meeting point for many Japanese people and foreigners as well. The area can get so busy that, ironically, it makes it hard to find who you are looking for.
Shibuya Scramble Crossing
The Shibuya Scramble Crossing is probably the biggest and most famous crossing in the world. This crossing has been featured in some famous movies such as Lost in Translation and Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift!
During peak hours, 3,000 people cross it at the same time! You really need to be focused on which direction you need to go, or the tide of people will drag you to the wrong side!
Come here in the evening or during a Saturday afternoon, where it will be brightly lit and the most crowded. You’ll be able to take the best shot for sure 😉
Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho
Better known as Drunkards Alley, this little street is filled with traditional style izakaya, (or Japanese gastro-pubs). Just a few minutes away from the busiest Scramble Crossing in the world, it will make you feel as if you have gone back in time. Forget the fashion trends and flashy lights—this street is a little gem. Once inside, you’ll forget that you are in Shibuya, we promise. Enjoy a drink or two, share stories with the locals, and enjoy the “retro” side of Shibuya!
Konno Hachimangu Shrine
Not everyone knows this, but there is an ancient shrine just 5 minutes away from Shibuya station.
The Konno Hachimangu Shrine was built in 1092 by the Shibuya clan, the lords of this area. It is dedicated to Hachiman, the God of War and Archery. Luckily, this shrine was spared during World War II.
Right next to the shrine, as often happens in Japan, there is a Buddhist temple, Tofukuji. Once part of the same structure, the (Shinto) shrine and the (Buddhist) temple were divided towards the end of the XIX century.
What to do in Shibuya
Shibuya is one of the main spots for fashion in Japan, and the first place you will want to visit here is probably the famous Shibuya 109 department store. Opened in 1979, this used to be the main spot for gyaru/gal, a Japanese fashion subculture. But everything changes very quickly in Japan, especially when it comes to fashion. Gyaru girls, with their long blonde hair, excessive makeup, and quirky fashion, are now mixing in with new styles and brands, creating new trends.
From Lolita to Punk, Shibuya 109 has everything you are looking for. Colorful shops, loud music that might make you want to go to a club, and cute shop assistants meowing irasshaimase (Welcome!) to you might make you think you entered another planet! All the shops here are for girls, but don’t worry guys: MAGNET by SHIBUYA 109, the male version of 109, is just around the corner! 😉
After shopping (or window shopping) at Shibuya 109, you can move towards Don Quijote, a discount store that sells everything: food, souvenirs, appliances, and many more things. Shibuya’s is special because it is a MEGA Don Quijote – discounted goods at a mega scale. What’s not to love? Go inside even if you think you have nothing to buy. But be careful, it’s easy to get carried away.
Speaking of getting carried away, want to challenge your willpower? Try the DAISO, a 100 yen shop where you can find anything you need for your daily life, souvenirs, and the most adorable items ever! It is just a couple of blocks away from the MEGA Don Quijote. If you were strong enough to resist the temptation of buying at the MEGA Don Quijote, we are sure that here, even the strongest will have trouble.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Although shopping may be the main reason many people come to Shibuya, there are many other things to do once there. One of the main attractions that Shibuya has to offer is top of the line VR or Virtual Reality arcades. There are several arcades, but the biggest one is VR Park Tokyo. VR Park Tokyo has activities such as driving simulators, horror games, shooting games, alien games, and so much more. You can enjoy all of this for 2900 JPY for 110 minutes of VR fun!
Tired of VR? Want to be a samurai for a little bit? We recommend the Samurai Armor Photo Studio. Here you can dress up as a samurai and take cool pictures! This whole process will take you about an hour and a half and will cost you 13,000 JPY, but is definitely worth it. Perfect for showing your friends what you did while in Japan, and it’s also a chance to show off in some impressive armor!
It’s time for a beer, and in Shibuya, there is the perfect spot for all you beer lovers!
The Yebisu Beer Museum by Sapporo. Sapporo is one of the major beer breweries in Japan, and in this museum, you can see the brewing process (if you do not know it already) and you can learn about the history of Yebisu, and how it came to be the loved beer that we have today. You can also take a tour (with two beers included!). For 500 JPY, it is a pretty sweet deal. We don’t want to spoil the experience for you, so we’ll just say one more thing: you can drink freshly brewed beer for just 400 JPY!
What to eat in Shibuya
Time to eat! Here are some ideas for your meal in Shibuya.
Sangyodo ($$ – $$$)
If you are looking for some delicious seafood, you should definitely try Sangyodo, a family-owned restaurant. Opened about 50 years ago, they put all the passion in their homemade style cuisine, while still keeping it affordable. If you sit at the counter, they will prepare the sashimi right in front of you!
Address: 2 – 11 Sakuragaokachō, Shibuya, B1
Umegaoka Sushi no Midori Sohonten ($$ – $$$)
Did you know that in Japan some of the best restaurants can be found inside department stores or train stations?! Umegaoka Sushi no MidoriSohonten, or simply Midori sushi, it’s inside the Shibuya Mark City department store and will definitely satisfy your sushi cravings! The size of the sushi is bigger than other restaurants, so our suggestion is to order with smaller amounts of rice, so you will be able to try many kinds of sushi. Go there for lunch, as it gets really crowded at night, and be ready to get in line. You can choose from the menu piece by piece, or order a set of sushi. They have counter seats, and also a few tables so you can enjoy your meal while talking with family or friends.
Address: 1 Chome – 12 – 3 Shibuya Mark City, Dogenzaka, Shibuya
Kamiyama ($ – $$)
Kamiyama offers home-made soba in a very elegant atmosphere. Immerse yourself in the refinement of the place and take your time before going back to explore the city.
Address: 10 – 8 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya
Another great place for soba. This soba and udon restaurant is quite small, but has tatami (traditional Japanese mats made from woven straw) seats and a very at-home atmosphere.
Address: 5 – 7 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya
Nana ($$ – $$$)
Looking for a taste of Kyoto without leaving Tokyo? This obanzai style restaurant will leave you absolutely speechless! Nana offers seasonal dishes prepared in a very accurate but simple way, to let you enjoy the taste of each ingredient. The obanzai style cuisine is made of several small dishes to let you try all the flavors of the season.
Address: 1 Chome-12-1 Shibuya Mark City Dogenzaka, Shibuya
Tempura TsunaHachi ($$ – $$$)
For tempura, Japanese style deep fried seafood and vegetables, go to Tempura TsunaHachi. Really close to the station, this restaurant opened in 1975. Try ten-don, or tempura bowl, here. It is full of energy and will help you explore the city!
Address: 21-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya
Of course, if you are looking for an energizing lunch, you can always count on ramen!
Ichiran ($ – $$)
If you haven’t tried Ichiran ramen, this is a good chance. Although it is a chain now, it hasn’t lost its flavor! You will order from a vending machine, (they also have English!). The layout of the store is very unique. They only have counters, where each seat is separated by removable walls. You can not see who is sitting next to you, nor the staff serving you, because everything is hidden behind walls or curtains. You also have your own water dispenser!
Address: 1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, Shibuya
Asuka ($ – $$)
If you really need to recharge, go to Asuka. Here you can have a bowl of ramen with tonkatsu, the pork cutlet, on top. Delicious!!!
Address: 2 – 11 Sakuragaokacho, Shibuya オギノビルディング
Izakaya at Night
Shibuya also has many alternatives for dinner. Whether you prefer a relaxed atmosphere or a night out for drinking, Shibuya’s ready to offer you anything you need. Here we have a couple of suggestions:
Shabuzen ($$ – $$$)
As the name suggests, Shabuzen offers delicious shabu-shabu, a type of hot pot dish, in a nice atmosphere. If you are looking for something more traditional, they have a separate tatami room, to make you feel like you were in another era. Shabuzen is only available for dinner.
Address: 10 – 8 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya B1
Shibuya has a lot of izakayas as well, and this is an interesting one is for sure. This is a seafood izakaya where you can literally catch your dinner! Don’t believe me? Go and check it yourself! Zauo is only available for dinner.
Address: 1 Chome – 19 – 3 Jinnan, Shibuya B1
J.S. Pancake Shibuya ($$ – $$$)
For brunch or a quick snack, try J.S. Pancake Shibuya. Here, they do a magic combination of pancake and cheesecake with berries on top. You can’t go wrong!
Address: 1 Chome – 20 – 17 Jinnan, Shibuya
A Happy Pancake ($$ – $$$)
Also, fluffy pancakes are a thing here in Japan. A Happy Pancake offers this delicacy with creamy butter and all sorts of toppings!
Address: 4 Chome – 9 – 3 Jingumae, Kiyohara Bldg, Shibuya
Beer Stand Hiranoya
At the end of the day, what’s better than a cold beer? Beer Stand Hiranoya has over 150 types of beer from many different countries to choose from! This place used to be a liquor store for about 100 years, and only recently, in 2013, was turned into a bar.
Address: 11 – 10 Shinsencho, Shibuya
If you want a more sophisticated atmosphere, Bar Legacy is the place to be. This is the best place to indulge in a nice cocktail or enjoy a fine whiskey. Closed on Mondays.
Address: 3 Chome – 22 – 11 Shibuya B1
Wherever your mind and feet will bring you, Shibuya will always be there, providing everything you need. So get ready to immerse yourself in the City of Trends …and don’t forget your camera!!