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Shibuya Area Guide: Travel Essentials & 38 Best Spots for Shopping, Dining & Sightseeing

Shibuya Area Guide: Travel Essentials & 38 Best Spots for Shopping, Dining & Sightseeing

Last updated: 2 December 2021

You've probably heard of Shibuya even if you've never been to Japan before. After all, this iconic ward of Tokyo is always at the forefront of the latest and greatest in food and fashion.

For the longest time, Shibuya also had the reputation of being an exclusive hub for youth trends. Still, that impression is slowly changing as recent developments have reshaped the town into a friendly shopping paradise for fashionistas of all ages.

It can be hard to pinpoint the right spots to visit here in the face of ever-changing trends as shops and restaurants rotate faster than usual due to the ongoing pandemic. Here's an updated Shibuya guide with the latest must-visit spots we've compiled to help you with your plans!

main image:Food Travel Stockforlife / Shutterstock.com

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Quick facts about Shibuya
  2. 2. When is the best time to visit Shibuya?
  3. 3. Getting to and around Shibuya
  4. 4. Accommodations: Where to stay in Shibuya
  5. 5. Restaurants: Dining in Shibuya
  6. 6. Cultural things to see in Shibuya
  7. 7. Recommended activities and things to do in Shibuya
  8. 8. Shopping in Shibuya
  9. 9. Other sightseeing hotspots around Shibuya

1. Quick facts about Shibuya

Before we dive in, let's talk a little bit about the history of Shibuya.

As mentioned earlier, the place is a leading cultural trendsetter and is often filled with visitors from all over Japan and the world on any given day. If you want to know what the "in thing" in Japan is right now, you can do no better than to step into the lively district of Shibuya.

The area used to be a rural farming village surrounded by valleys until it started being developed alongside Tokyo city. The opening of fashion malls like SHIBUYA109 and Shibuya PARCO in 1970 attracted many young people to the area. This trend continued all the way into the 1990s, where it turned into a subculture sanctuary at the height of the gyaru (nonconformist street fashion) boom.

Coupled with the fact that there were relatively more clubs, live music venues, and youth culture-related shops here than anywhere else, it's easy to imagine how Shibuya came to be recognized as THE youth town of Japan.

That said, this image is slowly being overturned because of recent developments in the area. For example, there are now more commercial buildings with a decidedly mature slant, such as Shibuya Hikarie and Shibuya Scramble Square.

These changes have served to make Shibuya more appealing to visitors from all age ranges.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, Shibuya is the top destination of visitors to Japan from major Western countries and many other countries worldwide. No wonder it's always so lively!

Also, many facilities and eateries here are open until very late, making it irresistible for tourists who want to maximize their time in Japan by visiting as many places as they can in one day. The tourist association in Shibuya proactively launches special initiatives and services for inbound travelers to make their stay in Shibuya a relaxing and enjoyable one.

Recommended Spots in Shibuya

2. When is the best time to visit Shibuya?

Image courtesy of Shibuya Scramble Square
Image courtesy of Shibuya Scramble Square

Basically, all year round! Shops and commercial complexes often hold seasonal sales, campaigns, and events during popular holidays like Christmas, New Year, Tanabata (Star Festival), Halloween, and many dates spread throughout the year. Therefore, any time is a good time to visit, especially if shopping is your goal.

The area is packed with large retail shops and franchises of popular brands. So other than a wide variety, you can expect to find plenty of limited-edition goods and new releases on sale as well. If you're into fashion and the latest trends, swing by Shibuya and wander around. There's a very high chance you may find exactly what you're looking for!

3. Getting to and around Shibuya

Image: PIXTA
Image: PIXTA

a. Getting to Shibuya
Shibuya is home to a large terminal station that connects Tokyo to the suburbs. As the train station is located near the city's center, it's generally a quick and convenient train away from many different places.

Four railway companies control a total of nine lines in this station, so if you're coming to Shibuya from any major city outside Tokyo, taking a train is your best bet to reach your destination with the least hassle!

・Lines available
Yamanote Line, Saikyo Line, Shonan-Shinjuku Line
Tokyo Metro
Ginza Line, Hanzomon Line, Fukutoshin Line
Inokashira Line
Toyoko Line, Den-en-toshi Line
・Getting to Shibuya from Narita Airport
Narita Express
3,250 yen
Airport Limousine Bus
3,200 yen
Image: PIXTA
Image: PIXTA

Do note that these train lines share the same tracks sometimes, and there's probably going to be a lot more underground pathways and exits than you were expecting to see when you actually get to Shibuya Station.

It's going to be difficult to navigate this maze-like complex without a bit of help, which is why we recommend heading straight for the iconic bronze statue of Hachiko first upon arrival.

At the very least, this will definitely lead you back up to the ground! What's more, you can catch a glimpse of the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing right in front of the statue as well.

b. Getting around Shibuya
Walking is the best option for getting around Shibuya. Still, you can use community buses operated by Shibuya Ward if your main itinerary involves hopping from one public facility to another.

Special ride tickets will help tourists get around Shibuya and nearby city suburbs with peace of mind
The Tokyo 1-Day Ticket acts as a one-day transport pass and is available for sale from every railway company.

This ticket will shave plenty off your transport budget when used alongside a carefully planned itinerary, so don't hesitate to make use of it to the fullest degree possible.

4. Accommodations: Where to stay in Shibuya

Image: PIXTA
Image: PIXTA

Having great access to transportation makes Shibuya a great place to stay while in Tokyo. By making it your sightseeing base, you'll have convenient access to the major sights around Tokyo as well as surrounding suburbs.

Also, the Limousine Buses stop at major hotels in Shibuya, taking you directly there from the airport.

There are cons as well, of course, however minor. For example, there is no Shinkansen bullet train station in Shibuya, and overnight buses are few and far between.

If access to a wider pool of transport options is key for your plans, then staying somewhere nearer to Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station may be the more prudent choice.

5. Restaurants: Dining in Shibuya

Shibuya is a food paradise. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes (and animal cafes), eateries, izakaya, and bars serving up popular foods like ramen, grilled meat, sushi, Japanese cuisine, Western cuisine, Chinese cuisine, international cuisine, fast food, and confectionery, to name a few. It's also a great place to get breakfast or enjoy a pint at a sports bar!

The problem with such a staggering selection is that it's probably a bit difficult to settle on something quickly! It may be a good idea to do some research and make a list of restaurants you're interested in before embarking on your Shibuya food tour.

Don't forget that Shibuya is also a downtown area where many locals drop by for dinner after work. If you plan to visit for food during the evening, therefore, make a reservation to ensure that you'll have a table waiting when you reach!

Recommended Restaurants With COVID Countermeasures

  • YODAREYA Shibuya Dogenzaka
    YODAREYA Shibuya Dogenzaka
  • Kaila Shibuyaten
    Kaila Shibuyaten

6. Cultural things to see in Shibuya

You can expect to encounter all kinds of arts and cultural activities in Shibuya. From major productions like concerts, operas, and stage plays in Bunkamura's large multipurpose complex hall to art galleries and movie theatres in Shibuya Hikarie, visitors are constantly in touch with the latest trends on the art scene during their visit. And don't forget the plethora of live music venues and night clubs featuring all sorts of music genres as well!

Many cultural, commercial, and music facilities have either temporarily suspended their activities or closed down permanently due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but rest assured that those still going strong are performing with strict measures in place to prevent infection.

Recommended Cultural Spots

7. Recommended activities and things to do in Shibuya

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

Entertainment is another subculture Shibuya is richly endowed with. You can easily find amusement in places like karaoke joints, game arcades, manga cafes, venues for indoor sports like bowling or table tennis, or facilities equipped with the latest VR technology specially programmed to deliver cutting-edge enjoyment.

All of these places were often filled to the brim with both domestic and international visitors, so once the pandemic is over and safety restrictions are lifted, you'll be able to entertain yourself here while easily making many new friends from all over the world!

Recommended Activities in Shibuya

Shibuya's night scenery is also a sight to behold. There are many observatory decks you can visit for that very purpose.

Some great places to get a vantage view of Tokyo from are Shibuya Sky on the roof of Shibuya Scramble Square, Shibuya Hikarie's Sky Lobby, and Shibu Niwa in Shibuya Fukuras (Tokyu Plaza).

8. Shopping in Shibuya

TK Kurikawa / Shutterstock.com
TK Kurikawa / Shutterstock.com

From branded goods to trendy fashion accessories, 100-yen shops, lifestyle products, and electrical appliances, you can find and buy almost anything under the sun in Shibuya.

Large Shopping Centers Near Shibuya Station
There are two large commercial complexes directly connected to Shibuya Station - Shibuya Scramble Square and Shibuya Mark City. There's much good food and shopping to be had in either one of these facilities.

Shibuya Hikarie is also located nearby and contains movie theatres and art galleries for the culturally inclined. Shibuya Fukuras is home to the trendy Tokyu Plaza shopping zone. Finally, Shibuya Stream is a fun site to visit for its wide variety of different eateries.

Shibuya Scramble Square (opened in 2019 )
24-12, Shibuya 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Shibuya Mark City
1-12-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Shibuya Hikarie
21-1, Shibuya 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Shibuya Fukuras (opened in 2019 )
1-2-3 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Shibuya Stream (opened in 2018)
21-3, Shibuya 3-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Each area of Shibuya has its own characteristics and atmosphere. Here, we will introduce some of the more famous areas and what you can find there.

Center-Gai / Udagawacho Area
In front of the iconic statue of Hachiko is the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, and beyond that crossing is the downtown area of Shibuya lined from street to street with restaurants, arcades, CD shops, general shops, and other facilities. This area has long been a popular hangout spot for teenagers and the shop selection certainly reflects that trend. Udagawacho lies even farther in from there. The items being sold on this street lean more towards lifestyle goods, which is why you can find many apparel shops and general stores like 100-yen shops, Tokyu Hands, and Shibuya Loft here.

Dogenzaka / Bunkamura-dori Area
This refers to the area located roughly around the SHIBUYA109 building and includes large electronics retailers like Bic Camera and Yamada Denki as well as internationally known brands like apparel store Uniqlo and general goods store Don Quijote.

Other than the usual lineup of trendy restaurants, bars, live music clubs, there's also a more mature side to this area with facilities that are more adult-oriented, giving the area off the main street of Dogenzaka the nickname of Love Hotel Hill.

  • Tokyu Department Store Hon-ten
    Tokyu Department Store Hon-ten
    Has Health & Safety Measures
    • Address 2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0043
    • Nearest Station Shibuya Station (JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Saikyo Line / Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line / Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line / Tokyu Toyoko Line / Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line / Keio Inokashira Line)
      7 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3477-3111
2-29-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
BicCamera Shibuya Hachikoguchi Store
2-5-9 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Yamada Denki LABI Shibuya
2-29-20 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
UNIQLO Shibuya Dogenzaka
Shibuya Prime, 2-29-5 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Koendori Area
To get to this area, turn right after crossing the Scramble Crossing and walk towards Yoyogi Park from the area around Shibuya Marui and Shibuya MODI. The gentle sloped path leading there is what is known as the Koendori. Along the way, you'll find large department stores like Marui and Seibu as well as plenty of cafes, eateries, and shops selling general goods. The calmer atmosphere here compared to the energetic mood around the train station will help you to relax better as well.

  • seibu shibuya
    Has Health & Safety Measures
    • Address 21-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-8330
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shibuya Station (JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Saikyo Line / Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line / Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line / Tokyu Toyoko Line / Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line / Keio Inokashira Line)
    • Phone Number 03-3462-0111
Shibuya Marui
22-6, Jinnan 1-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Shibuya PARCO
15-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Shibuya MODI
12-20, Jinnan 1-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Miyamasuzaka / Meiji-dori Area
This is the area outside the east exit of Shibuya Station, and the 34-story high Shibuya Hikarie building complex acts as its landmark. It's connected to Omotesando through Aoyama-dori avenue, and frequent patrons of this elegant and stylish area are generally of an older age. One of the area's highlights is its large variety of cafes and eateries.

Miyashita Park is located near the buildings of Shibuya Hikarie and BicCamera, and this is where Louis Vuitton's first flagship men's store was opened. The Kith flagship store here is also the brand's first overseas one, and you can also find boutiques of other luxury brands like Gucci and Prada as well. Take a break from shopping in one of cocoti SHIBUYA's cafes, or watch a nice movie there to end the day's outing on a high note.

Shibuya Hikarie
21-1, Shibuya 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
20-10, Jingumae 6-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
cocoti SHIBUYA
23-16, Shibuya 1-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

9. Other sightseeing hotspots around Shibuya

Image: PIXTA
Image: PIXTA

Since you're already in Shibuya, you may want to consider making a quick jaunt out of its bounds into other interesting areas nearby, such as Harajuku, the sanctuary of all things pop culture. Shibuya Cat Street connects the Shibuya and Harajuku areas and is a great place to find bargains on secondhand fashion.

For more luxury brands appreciation, there's the Aoyama/Omotesando area. Finally, Daikanyama is an area full of trendy shops for those thusly inclined.

Shibuya is one of the best places to go for a sneak peek of what's going on now in Japan in terms of fashion and cultural trends.

The cosmopolitan vibe of the area reflects the essence of the megacity it resides in, so much so that it perfectly epitomizes the phrase, "This is Tokyo!" in the best ways possible. Some things simply must be seen to believed, and there's no better time to visit Shibuya than right now!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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