Must-Read Guide Top 10 Ideas On What To Do In Shibuya Tokyo
After living in Japan for 3 months and constantly seeing new places, I can tell you one thing for sure: Japan won’t get any less exciting! Many people who visit Japan do their research before they arrive in Japan for the best experience, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to find what you really like. This is why we created a detailed guide with top 10 ideas on what to do in Shibuya, Tokyo. Get ready for some really cool stuff!
This list will help you decide what to do in Shibuya depending on your preference and duration of your stay. For those of you wanting to read more about where to shop in Shibuya and the best restaurants in Shibuya, there are separate articles where this topic is explained thoroughly.
1. Shibuya Crossing AKA Shibuya Scramble
Shibuya Crossing is by far the busiest intersection in Japan and probably in the world. There’s probably nothing that shouts out Tokyo louder than the Shibuya Scramble.
This intersection brings together pedestrians coming from 5 different directions and it is said to have more than 1000 people crossing at a time during peak times! Did you think that New York and London streets were busy? Since it’s located right outside Shibuya station, you’ll most likely be part of it too.
For good views, stay inside the Shibuya station or head out to QFRONT Starbucks, you’ll end up gazing at this wonderful crossing for some time. Shibuya intersection is like Tokyo’s beating heart, pumping its energy through its 5 big veins, the 5 directions in which its energy spreads towards the rest of Tokyo and Japan.
Wondering when is the best time to see Shibuya crossing? For me, Shibuya on a rainy night looks at its best! Neon lights reflected in the puddles after or during heavy rain and the sea of colourful umbrellas arising from one end and disappearing within blink of an eye.
Check out our video recorded from Shibuya Crossing to fully understand why this place fascinates so many visitors in Japan and why you’re undeniably going to be one of them too!
2. Shibuya Shopping Experience
Don’t know what to do in Shibuya? Your experience of Japan will be left unfulfilled without shopping in Tokyo. I’m being serious here. Even if you don’t like wasting time on shopping, this is part of the Japan experience! It’s fun, it’s diverse, it’s unique to Japan. Personally, I don’t like shopping whilst on holiday but I strongly recommend you do engage in Shibuya shopping spree.
Shibuya is nothing less than Tokyo’s shopping mall heaven. Oxford Circus and Mayfair look tiny when compared to the multi-storey department stores in Shibuya. Visit famous Shibuya 109, Hikarie or Seibu Shibuya, huge department stores. Since you’re in Japan check out one of the largest UNIQLO stores in the world. Tokyu Hands is great for some DIY stuff and LOFT will amaze you with its unique, often limited edition pop-up sections, where you can find some Japanese and internationally recognised designed products, like Yayoi Kusama pumpkins or sports goods, like skateboards.
At PARCO, you can find brands like Issey Miyake or Onitsuka Tiger and for those looking for some vintage pre-loved designer clothes, check out Hedy Daikanayama. Men’s fashion in Japan matches the women’s selection so be sure to check out Beams Men Shibuya branch for some inspiration.
Most of visitors will also like to pop in to a few electronic stores. Amongst the electronic giant superstores, Yodobashi and Bic Camera Shibuya branch are where you’ll spend hours soaking in all the technological novelties without even noticing it!
There are tons of more to it, simply visit Koen Dori. Last but not least, grab a couple of gifts for your friends and family from not any but MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya (open 247 in Shibuya), also known as MEGA Donki. Jokes aside, this is the biggest Don Quijote store in Japan! You will find there anything you can think of and beyond (trust me, I have not seen creativity on such level in my life and London seems boring now!). Shibuya Maruara Watanabe is also pretty good for getting some Japanese souvenirs but it’s much smaller.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, then your best bet is 100 Yen stores like Daiso or CanDo (plus tax, that is, making it 108 Yen store). Check out our video below on what to buy from Daiso (the video is from Daiso in Harajuku, there are bigger ones still):
If you’d like to know more on where to shop in Tokyo, check out our article dedicated to best places for shopping in Tokyo.
3. Vibrant Shibuya Clubs and Nightlife Scene
For the majority of Westerners visiting Japan this may come as a surprise but let’s face it, Japan, even on the hot summer night, gets pretty quiet around 11pm. There are some parts of Japan where this is not the case with a few Tokyo neighbourhoods that are surely an exception, especially Shibuya.
If your goal is to stay up till sunrise, there are plenty of options on what to do in Shibuya, waiting for you to act on, such as Womb, being one of the largest and prestigious clubs in Tokyo with top DJs and many celebrities. Check out Sound Museum Vision, about 200m from Shibuya station. It will suit anyone who likes to dance to electro, house, bass and dub step. With capacity of 1500 people, it’s a pretty spacious but also crowded place!
Atom Tokyo is just as big, whilst T2 is a little smaller but it creates some sensational 3D effects on the huge LED displays, something that can be compared only to a few Western clubs. Those who’re into hip hop, check out Harlem, one of the best hip hop clubs with 20 years of history in Shibuya nightclub scene.
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4. Pet Café, Cat, Owl or Hedgehog Café
Japanese people love cute things and they often take them to the level never seen before. It goes hand in hand with the weirdness so for the ultimate experience look for the combination of the above. As you can imagine, the list of things to do in Shibuya is virtually endless!
Although in the West there are only a few cat cafes, Japan pet cafes have not been a novelty of quite some time now. Quite the contrary, this is a well-established business in Japan and many pet cafes still mushroom around in different parts of Tokyo and Japan, making them extremely popular amongst Japanese people and of course, Western tourists who absolutely admire this concept!
If you are in Shibuya, make sure to visit the world-famous Hedgehog café (you haven’t heard of it?! You are not interested in Japanese trends, then!).
Check out our video from Harry Harajuku, also known as Hari Nezumi café. You can these baby hedgehogs with worms or let them fall asleep in the palms of your hands, that cute!
If you want to know where to find other pet cafes, like the cute Bengal cat café or a goat café (strange and cute, didn’t I tell you?!), read out article about where to find the pet cafes in Tokyo.
5. Love hotel hill
Don’t know what to do in Shibuya with your beloved partner in crime who fancies trying something more creative? Those who visit Japan for unique experiences won’t be disappointed in Shibuya. In case you haven’t heard of it, love hotels (in Japanese rabu hoteru or ラブホテル) is a very special type of accommodation in Japan, along with traditional ryokans or capsule hotels, except for this serves a very specific purpose.
Although Japanese don’t like to make it too obvious, the targeted customers are couples who are looking for some private place for a short period of time, usually between one hour and overnight stay. I think you can get the gist why. I love how Japan works so well in its own very special ways, everything seems to have a special purpose in this wonderful country.
Whilst Love hotels are all over Japan, the number of them in Shibuya is unquestionably larger than elsewhere. The easiest way to find them is by looking for Dogenzaka rather than Love hotel hill (typing the latter in Google maps will bring up some confusing information!). It’s literally the fill behind the 109 Shibuya shopping centre.
For more information on how to tell which hotels are love hotels and our guide to the best love hotels in Tokyo, read our article ‘All you need to know about Love hotels in Japan’ here.
6. Hachiko Statue
Just outside the Shibuya train station there’s a statue of Hachiko dog. There’s a beautiful story behind it that will move many of you. Hachiko dog used to wait for his owner by the Shibuya station until the owner would finish work so they could go back home together. Sadly, one day the owner passed away before meeting his favourite companion.
The very same dog was found looking for his owner for the next 7 years, every single day, in the same spot, however, unsuccessfully. This is a true story about the very special bond made between a human and a dog and the reason why the statue was erected where Hachiko used to wait as a symbol of lifelong loyalty. Nowadays, this spot is one of the places to see in Shibuya and also a meeting spot. Whilst this story will touch many dog and pet owners, it will open up hearts of many people.
7. Nonbei Yokocho
Nonbei Yokocho, known by the Westerners as ‘Drunkard’s Alley’ is the ramshackle alley with a bit more down-to-earth feel, ranking high on the list of things to do in Shibuya. Hidden behind Shibuya’s sky-reaching neon buildings, this less known tourist spot hosts some great B-gourmet restaurants and really tiny bars. If you end up visiting it, make sure to try some delicious yakitori!
If you’ve been to Shinjuku, Nonbei Yokocho is a tad similar to Omoide Yokocho and Golden Gai (if you haven’t, you can read more about it in the Must-read guide with top 15 ideas on what to do in Shinjuku). This street dates back to the post-war times and goes as far back as 1950s, carrying a lot of history on its back. The bars you’re going to see are tiny and will fit no more than literally a handful of people (between 2-6 on average), like the most known one “Okasan” or gradmonther in English.
Check out our video on Golden Gai in Shinjuku to get the feel of what Shibuya’s Nonbei Yokocho looks closest to:
8. Nabeshima Shoto Park Shibuya
Overlooked by many foreigners who quickly move on to another district, this park is an oasis for Tokyo locals no matter what time of the year as it’s one of the most beautiful things to see in Shibuya. . It binds antiquity with serenity, something that you probably wouldn’t expect from hurried-pace and futuristic looking Shibuya.
Nabeshima Shoto Park has a natural hot spring, not a common thing for Shibuya, gobi and even turtles. It’s a great dating spot in Tokyo for its rustic look featuring a small pond, quaint old watermill and a bonsai tree right in the middle of the park. This hidden gem looks particularly attractive and very photogenic during cherry blossom season, turning the park into a beautiful pastel pink island and autumn foliage for its bright red maple leaves called Momiji (紅葉) or kōyō (紅葉).
By far, Nabeshima park is one of the most underrated parks for tourists who miss out on the opportunity of visiting some of the best cherry blossom spots in Tokyo urban area. I bet you didn’t expect such a romantic spot to be hiding behind these huge glass buildings!
9. Center Gai Street or Sentagai
Center Gai is considered as one of the main things to see in Shibuya for it’s vibrant and colourful feel to it. It’s a short pedestrian street which attracts and gathers many subcultures, including Gyaru girls stealing the limelight. This eccentric spot is viewed by the locals as a youth-oriented area with many teenagers and early 20s. If you’re above that age group, you will feel out of place. However, Center Gai or simply Sentagai (センター街) is climbing its way up on the list of places to see in Shibuya as it’s unique look is very appealing to many photographers.
You’ll find many izakayas (Japanese pubs), fast food and pay as you go restaurants surrounding this busy shopping street. And if you happen to visit Tokyo in October, make sure you come by to see this area packed with people dressed in their Halloween outfits, it gets insanely busy, lively and colourful!
10. One Piece Mugiwara Store Shibuya
We purposely left this one till the very end. Last but definitely not least, at least for anime lovers! Not too sure whether I need to introduce One Piece to anyone reading this guide. Just in case you are unfamiliar with it, One Piece is one of the best-selling manga and anime written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda.
The storyline is about the never-ending adventures of the main character, the boy called Monkey D. Luffy who aspires to become a pirate. Together with his crew Straw Hat Pirates, he’s looking for the world’s ultimate treasure, the very “one piece” as the title suggests to become the next Pirate King.
If you happen to be in Shibuya and looking for some really cool ideas on what to do in Shibuya, One Piece Mugiwara store is your answer. Whether you’re into anime or not, there’s probably from your group of friends or / and family members who will cherish any form of merchandise that comes from the official One Piece Mugiwara store, like key holders, tote bags, posters, Luffy T-shirts (!) cookies and many others, the list goes on and the shop is forever crowded.
Now that you know it, you should head there for some ultimate One Piece lover gifts, they will be thanking you forever and ever!
I hope that our guide with top 10 ideas on what to do in Shibuya Tokyo will come in handy when you visit this always bustling and hypnotising Tokyo neighbourhood, no matter how many times you visit it, there is always going to be something new waiting for you to explore. Remember to check out our guide with 15 ideas on what to do in Shinjuku, the most important Tokyo ward, the capital of the capital of Japan and the nearby Harajuku, read the full guide with 10 cool ideas on what to do in Harajuku here.
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