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Things to do in Shibuya – Tokyo’s buzzing neighborhood

The heart and soul of Tokyo, Shibuya is famous for its crowded pedestrian crossings, explosive nightlife, bright lights, and lively atmosphere. Popular amongst the country’s youth, the district is famous for its commercial and entertainment options. Among the many things to do in Shibuya, there is something for everyone, regardless of age, with the neighborhood’s offerings ready to satiate every preference.

The ambiance the second you step foot in Shibuya is indescribable. It’s immersive to the max, urging you to participate, feel the vibe, and take in the perpetually buzzing atmosphere. Whether looking for free attractions in Shibuya or a culinary experience, here is a list of excursions you can enjoy by yourself, as a couple, or with the family.

Walk the Shibuya Crossing

The famous Shibuya crossing

One of the quintessential things to do in Shibuya, the neighborhood is world-famous for its Shibuya Scramble Crossing. Immortalized in many films, the central cross-way has a distinct energy that makes it such an attraction.

Every few minutes, as the lights turn red at this massive traffic intersection, a flurry of people step on the roads, creating an orderly crisscross of humans going about their business. The experience is as visually impressive from a high vantage point as when you are part of the crowd.

Shibuya Crossing can be overwhelming for some at rush hour. Nevertheless, I recommend crossing this street at least once. If you don’t feel like walking through it again, sit at a nearby restaurant or skyscraper and enjoy a bird’ s-eye view of the crossing.

Best places to watch Shibuya Scramble Crossing from above
  • Shibuya Sky
  • Magnet by Shibuya 109 (8th floor)
  • Gusto Shibuya Station Restaurant (window seats)
  • Shibuya Mark City (overhead corridor)
  • Shibuya L’Occitane Café (side view of the crossing)

Shop till you drop!

Shopping in Shibuya at Don Quijote

Shibuya is a popular destination among Japan’s youth, which means that the neighborhood’s fashion reflects the area’s zeitgeist. The streets are brimming with shopping complexes, mini stores, vintage clothing options, and premium brands.

Shibuya 109, for instance, is a ten-story mall with shops for accessories, make-up, and trendy clothes. Shibuya Parco is for both clothes and entertainment and even has a couple of Tokyo’s famous themed cafes. An entire floor of this establishment has Japanese pop culture clothing and souvenirs.

The great part about Shibuya shopping is that it caters to visitors of all budgets, and you can find some amazing bargains here. Tokyu Hands will satisfy all craft and DIY needs as it stocks numerous home improvement items. Mega Don Quijote is bargain hunting at its best, the place to pick up souvenirs, chocolate, skin care products, and the like at cheap prices.

Groove at Tower Records

Visit Tower Records - things to do in Shibuya

As is any music lover’s dream, visiting the 9-story tall Tower Records store is one of the highlights of visiting Shibuya. Tower Records is a popular store for people of all ages in a city where the music scene is eclectic and extravagant.

Built-in 1995, the shop comprises numerous floors boasting a collection of 1000s of CDs, vinyl, and other musical paraphernalia. Each floor has CDs of a different genre, including instrumental, movie soundtracks, J-pop, K-pop, and so much more.

However, there is a limited collection of English CDs. While we didn’t buy anything at the store, it is an ideal place to browse and buy the latest in the Japanese music scene!

With listening stations every few meters and a bright red and yellow atmosphere, this store evokes the classic Tower Records experience. Should all the browsing leave you feeling hungry, Tower Records Shibuya also has a café on the second floor, which hosts occasional live performances!

Introspect at the Hachiko Memorial statue

Hachiko Memorial Statue

Hachiko, the dog, is known worldwide as a symbol of trust and love. He waited every day at the station for his owner, a professor, to return from work. When the professor died, he continued to wait outside the station until his own death.

Now, Hachiko is one of the most famous statues in Tokyo, and visiting it is one of the essential things to do in Shibuya. To get from Shibuya Station to the statue, you only need to follow the paw prints!

As it happens, the area around the statue is also a common meeting spot among locals.

Try conveyor sushi at Uobei

Things to do in Shibuya - conveyor belt sushi at Uobei

There is no shortage of recommended sushi restaurants in Shibuya. However, conveyor belt sushi has a whole different charm.

Uobei Shibuya Dogenzaka comprises long rows of individual seats with a conveyor belt connecting them. Our family of four managed to get four seats side-by-side and promptly started ordering sushi off the tablet in front of us.

As is with any conveyor belt sushi, there are usually two conveyor belts. In some places, the bottom one often has an ongoing variety of dishes that the restaurant sends out. You can pick one that looks good, and the belt keeps moving. The one on top delivers the individually ordered sushi from the tablet.

At Uobei, both conveyor belts were used to send only ordered items.

We mainly used the tablet ordering system as we found it easier. It also meant we 100% knew what we were eating, which was important because some of us were vegetarian.

By the end, we all had a sizeable pile of plates by our side, having ordered various sushi dishes over 30-45 minutes, including toppings such as salmon, prawns, eggs, and more.

Wander around Miyashita Park

Miyashita Park

A walk around Miyashita Park, initially constructed in 1953 but renovated since, is one of the relaxing things to do in Shibuya, especially if you want a break from the bustle of the streets.

Approximately three minutes from Shibuya Station, Miyashita Park is an architecturally spectacular shopping mall in disguise with various restaurants, retail stores, cafes, art galleries, open spaces, and a hotel. The rooftop is the park’s highlight, boasting its very own sports facility, including a skate park, sand court (for beach volleyball), and a rock climbing wall.

We initially decided to visit Miyashita Park for the KitKat Chocolatory. As someone with a sweet tooth, I looked forward to it, especially after learning of the wacky flavors available in Japan. Unfortunately, the shop no longer exists, but a walk indoor window shopping proved to be a nice little change from all the walking we’d been doing throughout the day.

Dine at Shibuya Yokocho

Shibuya Yokocho - izakaya street

Although a part of Miyashita Park, but still separate, is Shibuya Yokocho. This long row of izakayas lined next to each other on a 100-meter side alley is more of a hidden gem that most tourists, like us, come across randomly.

A yokocho is typically a place where you can find local city dishes. At Shibuya Yokocho, though, the idea is to connect the new generations with the old Japanese culture.

Since each izakaya serves food from different localities, you can eat Japanese food from the north, south, east, and west, savoring recipes from every part of Japan without walking more than a few steps.

We stumbled across Shibuya Yokocho one night while wandering around Shibuya. The vibe in the later hours of the day is particularly inviting, with lights, open-air seating, conversations, and an atmosphere ideal for a romantic date or a filling meal with the family.

Go high on Shibuya Sky

Shibuya Sky, Tokyo

Shibuya Sky is one of the most popular attractions in Shibuya and all of Tokyo. It is the highest outdoor observer in Japan, standing at 237 meters. Situated on the top floor of Shibuya Scramble Square, it offers some of the most striking panoramas of the city.

While visiting during the daytime is great, the best views are after sundown. As lights flicker across Tokyo, the city comes alive in a neon haze, adding to its futuristic persona. Or else, plan to visit Shibuya Sky in the evening and see the sun setting behind Mt. Fuji.

Shibuya Sky opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 10:30 PM. The last entry time is 9:20 PM. Once in, you can spend as much time as possible until closing.

If bird’s eye vistas of the city are on your checklist, but you are on a budget, look into booking a hotel in Tokyo that puts you high above the rest. Our room on the 20th floor gave us some fantastic views, albeit in one direction.

Enjoy the Shibuya nightlife

Shibuya nightlife

Shibuya comes alive at night. The neon signs, bright billboards, and populated streets are characteristic of the district, drawing in crowds from across Japan and the world.

As it happens, several retail stores stay open till late; in addition to that, Shibuya’s mix of late-night fine dining cafes, casual bars, and clubs gives the nightlife experience the excitement it needs.

Clubs such as Womb, Club Vision, and Club Asia are popular among locals and visitors. They host regularly changing events and play famous tunes in English and Japanese. Atom Tokyo is another popular haunt, with separate women-only seats and stages and the capacity to accommodate up to 2000 people.

Shibuya’s extensive selection of bars boosts its nightlife. Rock no Cocoro and Music Bar Rockaholic let you drink the finest spirits while listening to rock and metal music. Shibuya Oiran, a “warm-up” standing bar, has a more relaxing and intimate atmosphere in comparison.

Karaoke is also an everyday late-night activity in Shibuya. Drop by Big Echo and Rainbow Karaoke are two popular spots. But if you are a fan of Lost in Translation and wish to recreate the famous karaoke scene, ask for Room 601 at Karekoke Kan’s Shibuya Udagawachohead branch.

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