The 10 Best Things To Do In Shibuya Tokyo – The Land of the Rising Sun’s capital has countless interesting places to visit but if there’s one you shouldn’t miss , it’s definitely Shibuya! This special ward in Tokyo is a very authentic city and a symbol of Tokyoite culture. It’s also very popular among high school and university students who shop and hang out in this very busy commercial and business center.
Tourists come to Shibuya to discover a unique side of Tokyo. You might even notice that the way people dress there is quite different, especially if you compare it to the way people in Asakusa dress for example. I cannot say it often enough so I’ll say it again: what I really love about Tokyo is the way tradition and modernity coexist in perfect harmony.
I do love hanging out in Shibuya so every time I travel to Tokyo, I make sure to drop by to have a drink with a few friends of mine who live in Tokyo. What watch how the neighbourhood look like? Watch this:
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you my top 10 favorite places in Shibuya but of course, let’s look at travel options and accommodation first.
How to Get There?
Shibuya is located west of Tokyo and the best way to get there is to take the train to Shibuya Station, which is a very busy railway station. You can get there through the Yamanote loop line, as well as through the Ginza and Hanzomon lines.
If you’re looking for the cheapest and fastest train rides to Shibuya, you can use Hyperdia‘s website in its English version (not many Japanese railway websites have one!).
Let’s say you’re in Roppongi for example, here are your options:
As you can see, the second route is the fastest and also the cheapest. It’s only 30 yen cheaper but keep in mind that some tickets to the same destination can have very different prices. I recommend you always check your best options on Hyperdia when you’re using the train in Tokyo and in Japan in general.
Shibuya Station is a pretty big station and although there are many signs designed to help you find your way, you could easily get lost there so here’s a map to help you out:
Where to Stay?
If you’re staying in Shibuya, you will be able to use the train to visit the whole city of Tokyo if that’s what you’re up to! What’s also very convenient is that if you’re planning to go out and party all night, you can walk all the way back to your hotel if you don’t want to take the last train (or the next day’s first train, depends on how you intend to spend the night!). Keep in mind that there will be no trains after midnight and that taxi rides are quite expensive. By the way, if you plan to go out often in Tokyo, you can save money with this 7-day nightclubbing pass.
The first time I went to Tokyo, I booked a room at the Granbell Hotel Shibuya. Location-wise, it was easy to go pretty much anywhere from there. Other than that, the hotel had great, modern rooms which are ideal if you’re traveling with a partner, and also very affordable considering the level of comfort and convenience the hotel offers.
I got a hotel room upgrade by the way so I stayed at the hotel’s suite which was perfect! 🙂
If you can’t afford to spend much on accommodation and prefer to stay at a hostel, you can try the Wise Owl Hostels. I spent some time there; it’s one of the cheapest hostels around and it’s really great. Make sure to book your room early enough though, it gets full pretty quickly.
Buy your train ticket, book your room and sit down for this list of my 10 favorite spots in Shibuya!
- Hachiko Statue
- Shibuya Crossing
- Basketball Street
- Uogashi Nihon-ichi Standing Sushi Bar
- Capsule Hotels
- Nonbei Yokocho
- Love Hotel Hill
- Tower Records
- Shopping malls
Things to do in Shibuya Tokyo #1 – Hachiko Statue
Everybody knows Hachiko, he’s the most famous dog in all Japan! Statues of the dog have been built in Tokyo and the most well-known of them all is the one standing in Shibuya. The statue is now a very popular meeting spot because the city tends to be very busy, especially at night, so people meet there to avoid getting lost.
If you’re wondering who is Hachiko and how he came to be famous, well here’s the story. Hachiko was an Akita dog whose master was a professor at the famous Tokyo University, also known as Todai. The dog was the eighth born of his mother’s litter of puppies, hence his name, hachi in Japanese meaning eight. Hachiko also means “8th prince”. Every morning, Hachiko’s master would leave for work and Hachiko would accompany him to Shibuya Station. The dog would go back to the station every evening to wait for his master.
But on the 21st of May 1925, Hachiko’s master dies at work from a brain hemorrhage and never goes back home. Hachiko, who went to the station that day to wait for him like he does every day, never saw his master again. He kept coming back to Shibuya Station at the same time every evening to wait for his master… for the next 10 years. Hachiko came to be held as an example of loyalty and is today the symbol of the city.
Things to do in Shibuya Tokyo #2 – Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya Crossing is undoubtedly the most crowded spot in Tokyo! You can go there if you leave the Shibuya Station from the Hachiko exit, it’ll be right in front of you. Just like every big scramble crossing in Tokyo, it stops vehicles in all directions for a few seconds to allow pedestrians to cross the street. Shibuya Crossing has become an attraction for tourists looking for the very authentic buzz you get when crossing a street in Tokyo! Here’s a video of what it looks like:
You can also get a bird’s eye view of the Crossing from the Train Station or from the Starbucks you see in the bottom right corner of the picture below.
By the way, if you want to cross the famous crossing in style with a kimono, feel free to book this tour and make fun pictures! 🙂
Spot #3 – Basketball Street
Basketball Street is one of the most popular streets in Shibuya, here’s its exact location. I always wondered why it’s called Basketball Street and finally got to understand the reason behind the name. Apparently, a few years ago, many street sellers or “curbsiders” were doing business there and that’s where the street got its bad reputation from. Japanese people would call it kowai-gai or “the scary street”.
So the Japanese local authorities got rid of the street sellers first, then the local (legal) trade association decided to rename the street after a basketball field nearby and that’s that!
You’ll notice many basketballs scattered here and there as well as these signs:
The street’s new name was an attempt to get rid of its former reputation and give it a brand new cool one and it worked! Basketball Street is now a very popular street where people come to shop, hang out, grab a bite to eat or have a drink!
Things to do in Shibuya Tokyo #4 – Uogashi Nihon-ichi Standing Sushi Bar
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/GgVFGMY5vEp
Average price for a pair of sushi : 200 yen ($1,8)
This restaurant is in Basketball Street and it’s my favorite in Tokyo! As the name suggests, you shouldn’t be expecting a luxury restaurant. It’s actually a tiny sushi bar where you get to eat your sushi standing up, at best. But it’s a very friendly restaurant! And the sushi are very affordable and taste great. The salmon-mayo ones with the smokey, blow-torched sauce are my favorite! Absolutely delicious!
If you are a big fan of Japanese food, make sure to check out this article too: Tokyo Food Tour.
Things to do in Shibuya Tokyo #5 – Capsule Hotels
I know I already recommended a couple of places you can stay at in Shibuya but you can also try this very authentic experience for a change: sleeping in a capsule hotel. Of course, if you have claustrophobic tendencies, it’s better to avoid this altogether but if you don’t, I can guarantee you’ll be surprised by how comfortable these capsules are!
There are many capsule hotels in Shibuya but The Millennials is one of the best out there. It’s literally five minutes away from the train station. It opened in March 2018 so it’s a pretty modern hotel with state-of-art equipment! How’s that, you say? Well, instead of a TV set that would take up space, you get a room with a projection screen to watch movies on! And as you’re thinking it can’t get any better, let me tell you that you can get free beers from 5:30 to 6:30PM!
Looking for a capsule hotel elsewhere? Here’s a good selection of capsule hotels to try in Tokyo.
By the way, if you are looking for activities to do in all Tokyo, read this blog post: Best things to do in Tokyo.
Spot #6 – Nonbei Yokocho
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/6XLsFeB6Vhm
Nonbei Yokocho are small pedestrian streets in Shibuya where there’s just enough room for 4 or 5 people, widthwise that is, so you’ll probably find yourself standing pretty close to other people (strangers most likely) while eating or drinking and you wouldn’t be missing the point at all! The idea behind it all is to create just enough space for friendliness and new relationships to form.
By the way, there’s a very similar street in Shinjuku, it’s called Golden Gai and it’s actually even more popular than Nonbei Yokocho. If you happen to visit Shinjuku, dropping by Golden Gai would be a very interesting idea!
Things to do in Shibuya Tokyo #7 – Mandarake
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/5e89XJSYGoA2
If you’re a manga and/or anime fan, you need to visit Mandarake in Shibuya. It’s a huge underground store and you get the impression you’re entering a cave filled with otaku goodness. And that’s actually what it is: books, figurines, spin-off products, they’re all in there! Here’s a virtual tour of the store (sorry for the poor sound quality).
If you’re looking for more stores like this, go to Akihabara, which is the otaku cultural center in Tokyo.
Things to do in Shibuya Tokyo #8 – Love Hotel Hill
This is a very peculiar place in Shibuya. So peculiar it’s borderline weird! Tourists don’t usually know about Love Hotel Hill; it’s right behind the 109 department store building, near Shibuya Crossing.
As the name suggests, Love Hotel Hill is a hill where many love hotels work hard to offer the best experiences to customers! What’s a love hotel, you say? It’s a hotel where couples can stay the night in complete and utter privacy. No need to be judgmental about it like some people are in other parts of the world.
Many Japanese people live with their parents’ sometimes past their thirties and therefore cannot spend time with their boyfriends or girlfriends in the privacy of a room that can cater to their needs, let’s say. So they go to a love hotel where they can rent a room for a few hours or for the entire night if they want to. If you’d like to try it, book a room in advance at the Love Hotel Sulata and enjoy yourself!
You can find more Love Hotel recommendations in Tokyo here: Love Hotel Tokyo.
Spot #9 – Tower Records
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/E6mSYrkFea82
Towers Records occupies 8 floors dedicated entirely to music. It’s quite popular in Shibuya and people still go there to buy CDs of their favorite bands. You can find pretty much any music you’re looking for there but you’ll notice that J-Pop dominates the market.
You don’t have to buy anything, it’s just fun to take a look around or have a drink at the Tower Records Cafe on the building’s first floor where music events are often held. Last time I was there, there was a famous J-Pop singer who unexpectedly dropped by the cafe to surprise his fans and sign a few albums.
Things to do in Shibuya Tokyo #10 – Shopping Malls
If there’s only one thing left to do in Shibuya, it’s definitely shopping! If you’re looking for latest fashion trends, you can try Forever 21, which is dedicated mostly to adolescents. You can also visit the Shibuya 109 shopping mall. Keep in mind that these stores are quite expensive and it’s mostly due to the fact that they are located in Shibuya.
If you’re looking for better deals, you can try the Mega Don Quijote where you’ll find basically everything at lower prices. You can buy food, souvenirs, clothes, halloween costumes, bicycles, everything you can think of, for much cheaper prices.
My favorite shopping mall in Shibuya is Hikarie, it’s right behind the train station so make sure to check it out.
I hope this brief digital guidebook will come in handy and that you’ll use it to plan your next trip to Tokyo. Let me know in the comments what’s your favorite spot in Shibuya!