HOME Tokyo and Surroundings Tokyo Shibuya Shibuya Complete 1-Day Itinerary: All the must-see places in Shibuya for first-time visitors! (2019 version)
Shibuya Complete 1-Day Itinerary: All the must-see places in Shibuya for first-time visitors! (2019 version)

Shibuya Complete 1-Day Itinerary: All the must-see places in Shibuya for first-time visitors! (2019 version)

Date published: 17 May 2019
Last updated: 8 August 2019

Shibuya is known for being the place where Japanese youth culture got its start. More recently it has been in the spotlight for the throngs of costumed youth who gather to celebrate Halloween each year. If this is your first visit to Japan, then consider spending a day in Shibuya visiting its many sightseeing spots beginning with the Shibuya scramble crossing.

We’ve put together a complete one-day itinerary that will help you do that. It includes little-known places off the beaten track as well as major tourist attractions. You definitely will want to read this before you visit Shibuya!

Begin by visiting the tranquil precincts of Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine is the largest shrine in the Shibuya area and a place where huge crowds gather to pay their first visit to a shrine at the start of every New Year. In 2012 it was one of 20 tourist spots in Japan awarded 3 Michelin stars.

The grounds cover about 73 hectares and contain about 100,000 trees donated from around the country creating a tranquil setting that makes you forget you are in one of the largest cities in the world. 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary since its founding.

The Torii Gate at the entrance to the shrine. The Torii gate represents the boundary between the everyday world and the holy precincts.

Paying a visit to this shrine is a good place to begin your visit to the Shibuya area. The shrine opens at daybreak and closes when the sun goes down, so visiting in the morning when the air is clean and cool is the best time to visit.

The shrine is in the process of receiving a new copper roof. The basic form of worship is to bow twice, clap your hands twice, and bow once more.

Meiji Shrine is said to bring good fortune to those who worship here because the Emperor Meiji and Empress Dowager Akinori, who were intimately connected throughout their lifetimes, are enshrined here. After praying for good fortune during your travels, now let’s continue our exploration of the Shibuya area.

  • Meiji Jingu
    明治神宮
    • Address 1-1 Yoyogi Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station Access: It is a short walk from JR Harajuku Station; also a short walk from the Meiji Jingu-mae (Harajuku) Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line and Fukutoshin Line; a 5-minute walk from the Yoyogi Station on the Toei subway Oedo Line; a 5-minute walk from the Kita Sando Station on the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line; and a 5-minute walk from the Sangubashi Station on the Odakyu Line.
    • Phone Number 03-3379-5511

    Open: from sunrise to sunset (varies according to the month)
    Closed: Open daily

Looking for the latest in “cute” along Takeshita-dori in Harajuku

Looking for the latest in “cute” along Takeshita-dori in Harajuku
Takeshita-dori teeming with domestic and foreign sightseers. Image credit: beibaoke / Shutterstock.com

Leaving Meiji Shrine and crossing over the JR tracks the atmosphere changes dramatically as you enter Takeshita-dori in Harajuku, an area filled with shops sporting individual fashions and trendy places to eat. This is the place where the kawaii [cute] culture of Japan originated, visited by teenagers from all parts of Japan as well as foreign tourists due to its growing reputation abroad.

For a long time Takeshita-dori has been known as a place where you can walk while eating such treats as crepes. These photogenic sweets are not only popular topics, but delicious snacks as well. Stroll down this street and there’s a good chance you’ll be struck by something you find to be kawaii!

Two shops that have garnered much attention both at home and abroad are the Harajuku Osamu Owl & Mameshiba Cafe collectively known as the Harajuku Bengal Cat's and Owl's Forest These are shops where you can come in contact with and touch unusual pets.

The Mameshiba Cafe is on the third floor of the building. It costs 880 yen for adults (13 years and older) and 580 yen for children (6 to 12 years old) for 30 minutes and one drink is included.

Everyone is familiar with Hachiko, the loyal dog, of which there is a statue outside Shibuya Station. It was a Shiba breed. Mame, though literally meaning “bean”, means “miniature” when applied to the Shiba breed. At this cafe you can spend time and pet miniature Shiba known as Mamaeshiba. The popularity is such that lines form before the shop even opens, so we recommend you go early and buy an admission ticket for a set time.

Open from 11:00 a.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays

The Osamu Owl Cafe is located in the first basement of the same building. More than ten different types of owls are found here in an interior decorated to represent the four seasons found in Japan, and there is no time limit on how long you stay.

Osamu Owl Cafe admission for adults (13 and older) is 680 yen and 480 yen for children (ages 6 to 12)

You can visit both places on a reduced joint ticket that costs 1,400 yen for adults and 1,000 yen for children.

The pets in both places are accustomed to people and enjoy being petted. You definitely will be soothed by the time you spend in this “cute” place.

  • Harajuku Osamu Owl & Mameshiba Cafe
    原宿乃フクロウの森と豆柴カフェ
    • Address 1-6-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station Access: 5-minute walk from the JR Harajuku Station; 5-minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Meiji Jingu-mae (Harajuku) Station

    Open: weekdays 11:00 a.m. ~ 7:00 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays, holidays 10:30 a.m. ~ 7:30 p.m.
    Closed: Open daily

Check out the latest trends on Shibuya Cat Street!

Going down Takeshita-dori to Meiji-dori, then right to the main intersection where if you turn left, the road leading up to Aoyama-dori is the Omote Sando area, the Champs Elysees of Japan. This street is lined with famous international brand-name stores.

The trees lining the road are illuminated during the Christmas season. Editorial credit beersonic / Shutterstock.com

You can get to Shibuya by walking down Meiji-dori, however, you may enjoy taking a back road going in the same direction. Cat Street is a road that runs parallel with Meiji-dori through an area called “the back side of Harajuku”. This road extends about one kilometer and is lined on both sides by outlet stores and trendy shops.

Cat Street gets its name because at one time there used to be many cats here. The band Black Cats also supposedly takes its name from here.

Some of the shops in the neighborhoods of Cat Street are old-style houses that have been renovated into shops and galleries, many having the feel of hideaways. Feel free to pop into any of these shops and look around as you just might find something you would like to buy.

Have lunch at one of the most popular sushi shops in Shibuya!

Probably by the time you get close to Shibuya Station you will have worked up an appetite. If you are looking for a place to have lunch, try Genki Sushi, a place that is extremely popular with foreign tourists.

Genki Sushi has a shop very close to Center-Gai

The menu at Genki Sushi is on a touch panel and is also in English, Chinese, and Korean. Your order is hand-prepared and then delivered to you by conveyor belt.

There are both counter and table seats, and usually many of the customers are foreigners.

Also popular are “a little extra added” menu items such as ebitenmaki [shrimp tempura roll] (120 yen excluding tax), ebifuraimaki [fried shrimp roll] (340 yen excluding tax), aburizanmai [broiled lean tuna, shrimp, and salmon] (200 yen excluding tax), and ippon anagao [one conger eel] (470 yen excluding tax). For those who are not comfortable eating raw seafood, there are many ingredients which can be fried or broiled so you can rest assured that there is something for everyone.

For foreigners who find black food items strange, the seaweed is inside the rolls

Even I as a Japanese found all of these items delightfully delicious! With sushi you can order just as much as you want to eat, and even if you stuff yourself, afterwards you will be able to easily walk it off.

  • Genki Sushi
    元気寿司
    • Address 24-8 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station Access: 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station using either the JR lines, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Hanzomon Line, Fukutoshin Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line, Denentoshi Line, or Keio Inokashira Line.
    • Phone Number 03-3461-1281

    Open: 11:00 a.m. ~ midnight (last order 11:30 p.m.), Saturdays, Sundays, holidays 10:30 a.m. ~ midnight (last order 11:30 p.m.)
    Closed: Open daily

Going from Center-Gai, the heart of Shibuya, to the scramble intersection!

After you have had something to eat, head over to Center-Gai, the symbolic street in Shibuya where young people gather. Lots of Japanese youth culture originates here, such as the loose socks and ganguro gyaru [tan-faced gals] fads of the past. In recent years lots of young people gather here at Halloween to show off their costumes.

Shibuya Center-Gai is packed with places to eat and drink, fashion and many other types of shops. Editorial credit Nor Gal / Shutterstock.com

Shibuya Center-Gai opens onto the scramble intersection, a place everyone is eager to see. When the pedestrian lights turn green, as many as 3,000 people flood the intersection at one time making it one of the most famous and symbolic tourist spots in the megalopolis of Tokyo.

In a single day between 300,000 to 500,000 people use this intersection

Many foreigners are amazed to see such large crowds of pedestrians going in different directions without colliding into one another at these times. To actually experience this chaos, cross over to the MAGNET by SHIBUYA109 which opened in April 2018.

The 109MEN’S building was refurbished and reopened in stages as the MAGNET by SHIBUYA109 building.

There is a great spot on the roof of this building called CROSSING VIEW where you can get a bird’s-eye view of the intersection.

Admission to CROSSING VIEW is 300 yen

Before this was made, it was not possible to observe the scramble intersection directly below. Another unique feature is that you can actually take a picture of yourself observing the scramble intersection from above using the CROSSING PHOTO service.

CROSSING PHOTO service costs 1,000 yen (photo provided by SHIBUYA109)

A photo of you and the scramble intersection makes a perfect souvenir of your visit to Shibuya and a good conversation piece!

  • MAGNET by SHIBUYA109
    MAGNET by SHIBUYA109
    • Address 1-23-10 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station Access: 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station using either the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Hanzomon Line, Fukutoshin Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line, Denentoshi Line, or Keio Inokashira Line.
    • Phone Number 03-3477-5111

    Hours: 10:00 a.m. ~ 9:00 p.m.
    Closed: Open daily

Escape the Shibuya Crowds! Places off the beaten track in the heart of Shibuya where you can take a break and look for souvenirs

If you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Shibuya, go down to the 7th floor of the MAGNET by SHIBUYA109 building. Here you will find the MAG7 cafe and dining floor which has a food court, too.

You can sit wherever you like in the food court. There are electrical outlets by the window seats. On weekends there is also a DJ spinning records.

Popular Japanese food such as rice balls, gyoza, and fried chicken are among the many types offered. Especially popular is the Onigiri Bar Shibutani-en that offers a wide selection of rice balls to enjoy with a drink. The 1-liter 09 Beer that costs 1,000 yen (excluding tax) is very popular.

Onigiri Bar Shibutani-en has a nice Japanese modern feel to it.
1-liter 09 Beer
  • Onigiri Bar Shibutani-en
    おにぎり Bar 渋谷園
    • Address 1-23-10 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo MAGNET by SHIBUYA109 7F
    • Nearest Station Access: 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station using either the JR lines, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Hanzomon Line, Fukutoshin Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line, Denentoshi Line, or Keio Inokashira Line.
    • Phone Number 03-3477-8236

    Hours: 11:00 a.m. ~ 11:00 p.m.
    Closed: Open daily

After resting up, stop by the first floor and visit the souvenir shop also managed by Shibutani-en and which has a wide selection of souvenirs.

*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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