Center of youth culture, always on the cutting edge of fashion. Shibuya has been gaining popularity, not only among Japanese, but also among tourists from overseas. Let us introduce you to must-visit spots, activities, and great tasting gourmet when you go to Shibuya.
What is Shibuya?
Nowadays, Shibuya is a known to be the epicenter of fashion, but during the Edo period, it prospered as a village along Oyama-kaido Road, and the west side of today's Shibuya Station (the area where you will find SHIBUYA 109 and the “scramble crossing”) used to be a developing post town. Later, during the Meiji era, it became a “Hanamachi.” (*)
What triggered Shibuya to become how it is now happened after WWII. Trying to restore the area that still had the scars of the war, new developments continued, and many commercial facilities were built successively. In those facilities, shops carrying fashionable brands popular among young people started business, and thus many youths started to gather. Before they knew it, Shibuya became a place where young people hang out, and developed into what we have today.
(*) An area formed with geisha houses, where people were entertained by geishas.
How to walk around Shibuya
Various buildings line the streets of Shibuya, and since the station is located at the bottom of the valley, the area is known for its hilly roads. When you go to major commercial facilities from the station, many times, you will have to walk long slopes. You will be able to walk efficiently if you leave your suitcases or backpacks in a coin locker, etc.
Because Shibuya is where you will find the latest fashions, the area near the station is always crowded with people. The “scramble crossing” (diagonal crosswalk) close to Shibuya Station is full of people day and night, so if you are taking small children, be careful not to lose them in the crowds.
1. Shopping at shops of Shibuya
Shibuya 109 is a representative shopping spot of Shibuya, also nicknamed among the young as “Marukyu.” It has become a holy ground for young women, mainly high school girls. Shibuya 109 has many fashion brand shops highly popular among young women, so you can get everything you need for women's fashion here.
The female store staffs in the shops are fashionable, wearing the same brand clothes they are selling. If you don't know what to buy, you can ask the staffs. They will choose just the right clothes for you. Some shops have foreign language speaking staff, so relax and enjoy your shopping.
●2-19-1, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
●Closed on January 1st
Hikarie is a fashion center with a connecting bridge to JR Shibuya Station. The bridge has a roof, so you won't have to worrying about the weather, which is a good thing. The facility has many domestic and overseas cosmetic shops, as well as fashion brands. Further, you will find variety shops that sell leather goods such as wallets and bags, and they have a great selection of items great for souvenirs. Food courts that sell popular confectionaries and drinks and restaurants are always crowded.
●2-21-1, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
●Closed on January 1st
* Restaurants and cafes: 11:00-23:30
Shibuya Mark City
It is located between the west entrance of JR Shibuya Station and Keio Inokashira Line Shibuya Station, so it is a shopping mall with great access to stations. There are many clothes, miscellaneous goods, and jewelry shops and among others. In the upper floors, there is a hotel, so Mark City is used by both domestic and foreign guests as a base for Shibuya sightseeing. There are a variety of shops that carry items that make high-class life more enjoyable, such as brands for people who are 30 or older and natural cosmetics.
“Shibuya Mark City”
●1-12-1, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
*Business hours may differ depending on the facility
2. Sightseeing in Shibuya
Statue of Chuken (loyal dog) Hachiko
This is a famous spot you can't dismiss when talking about Shibuya. The area around the statue is a standard meeting place in the crowded district of Shibuya. Of course, there are always people taking pictures of the statue.
The symbol of Shibuya is the statue of Chuken (loyal dog) Hachiko, and the story comes from Hachi, an Akita dog owned by a university professor Hidesaburo Ueno, who loved dogs. Hachi went to the station every day to meet his owner, but one day, Ueno died suddenly. However, Hachi continued to see his owner at Shibuya Station every day. A newspaper journalist was deeply impressed by this, and wrote an article about the dog, and Hachi became known as “Loyal Dog Hachiko.” In 1934, a statue named “Statue of Loyal Dog Hachiko” was placed near the station. Hachi died in 1935, and the original statue was destroyed during WWII, but it was created again after the war. Since then, the statue has always been a symbol of Shibuya, loved by many people.
“Statue of Chuken Hachiko”
●1-2, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
The “Scramble” Crossing in front of Shibuya Station is the reason why Shibuya is called the “district of the young.” The crossing overlap, and as many as 3,000 people cross the roads during a green light, making it one of the largest crossings in the world. Being able to see this many people cross roads at once without bumping into each other is a unique view. You may want to take a picture there, but stopping in the middle of a crossing is a nuisance and very dangerous, so you had better refrain from doing that. There are cafes in the area where you can see the crossing from above, so you may find that enjoyable.
●The area of Dogenzakashita, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
This is a street called Center-gai, where many young people gather. The street starts from the Hachiko statue, then goes through Inokashira Street and then the western part of Bunkamura Street. The entrance of Center-gai can be found right after you walk the scramble crossing from Shibuya Station. There are many shops that sell fashion and culture related items, and also musical and international shops where foreigners as well as young people go to shop. You will also find many restaurants that are reasonable and serve delicious food, so you may find something to your liking if you stop by while you look for souvenirs.
Furthermore, if you walk the main street, you will find Japan's “holy ground” of basketball, the 2nd Gymnasium of Yoyogi National Stadium, which is why recently, the street it is also called “Basketball Street.”
●Area around Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
3. Eating in Shibuya
Sushizanmai Shibuya Tokyu-Hontenmae
Sushi is the Japanese representative food. There are many high-class sushi restaurants, but this one is known to serve high-quality sushi that are quite reasonably priced.
With the main restaurant located in Tsukiji, which is known as “Japan's kitchen,” Sushizanmai is one of the most popular sushi restaurants in Japan, where you can enjoy quality nigiri (hand-formed) sushi. Nigiri and sashimi are delicious, but they also serve a great selection of other dishes, such as broiled fish and a‐la‐carte which they take pride in, great for those who do not like raw fish. They also have English menus, so you can relax and enjoy sushi even if you cannot speak Japanese.
“Sushizanmai Shibuya Tokyu-Hontenmae ten”
●Saito Ⅲ Bldg. 1F, 34-5, Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Okonomiyaki also goes by the name “Japanese Pancake.” The recipe is simple, topping pork, noodles, cabbage and more on flattened batter made of mixed flour and soup stock, and it has been loved as traditional Japanese dish.
Genuine okonomiyaki baked on a piping hot iron plate is rarely available in places other than Japan. It's healthy, so the ladies can eat them without feeling guilty. Their business hours are long, until the morning of the next day, so it is good that you can have okonomiyaki late at night.
●1-12-1, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
●17:00-9:00 the next day
*For Sundays, open until 5:00 the next day
Yakitori (grilled chicken), is popular among a wide range of generations. Fresh chicken meat cut into bite-size chunks are pierced with skewers, and then seasoned with soy sauce-based sweet sauce or salt, and then grilled. The salty-sweet taste is loved by adults and children alike. At Sagoemon, they serve the classic yakitori, and also a variety of original yakitori and other side dishes. The atmosphere of the restaurant is Japanesque and relaxing, so we highly recommend them if you want to take your time to have a meal. It is good that you can enjoy the food at prices that are fairly reasonable.
●4F Dogenzaka Center Bldg. 4F, 2-29-8, Dogenzaka, Shiguya-ku, Tokyo
●Closed: end of year and New Year's holiday
●11:30-14:30 / 17:30-23:30
*Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays: 17:00-23:30
4. Staying at hotels in Shibuya
SHIBUYA HOTEL EN
Since you have come all the way to Japan, you may want to stay in a Japanese-style hotel room. This hotel is just the place. Inside, they have used various elements of Japanese culture, and each floor has a concept of their own. From rooms using a traditional Japanese motif to rooms that emphasize the world of popular Manga and more, each room has a Japanesque taste.
「SHIBUYA HOTEL EN」
●1-1, Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
NADESHIKO HOTEL SHIBUYA
“Capsule Hotels” are culture specific to Japan, and if you are looking for a place to stay at a reasonable price, they are perfect for you. As the name is self-describing, it is a lodging facility with cots in capsule-like small rooms, but recently, services and qualities have become much better, and some capsule hotels have first-class hotel-like premium facilities. Because they provide high-quality facilities inexpensively, you will find them useful when staying for an extended period of time. Furthermore, NADESHIKO HOTEL SHIBUYA is exclusively for women, which you can't find very often, so it is a great place to stay if you are on a women only trip. The rooms are spacious for a “capsule” hotel, and they have great services such as loaning out yukatas for free, which is standard service for ryokans (Japanese inns).
“NADESHIKO HOTEL SHIBUYA”
●10-5, Shinsencho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu
Carrying around large suitcases or things you have bought such as souvenirs, is tiring when you have to go to the hotel far from train stations. In order to stay comfortably without wasting time, choosing a hotel near the station is one way.
Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu is connected to the west exit of JR Shibuya Station, so you can check into the hotel in no time, which is a great merit. Further, the floors below are the “Mark City Shibuya” shopping mall, so you can buy things you need immediately.
“Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu”
●1-12-2, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
5. Other attractions
VR PARK TOKYO
If you want to easily experience virtual reality in Japan, an activity that has become extremely popular all over the world, this is the place. You will go to a jungle, do river rafting, ride a broom like a witch, or experience a Japanese-style haunted house, all the while staying in metropolitan Shibuya. There are various other attractions, too. Up to four people can play each game. Experiencing a world of adventures in couples or families is a great idea.
“VR PARK TOKYO”
●4F, KN Shibuya 1 Bldg. 13-11 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Shibuya Rakugo (comic storytelling)
“Rakugo” is a traditional Japanese performing art. Rakugoka, or professional story tellers, tell comical traditional classic stories, or fictitious modern-day stories. This place started when they felt young people should know about this casual traditional performing art. They do live performances called “Yose” twice a day. Each time, the rakugoka changes. How about finding something new by listening to a traditional Japanese performing art？
●KINOHAUS 2F, 1-5, Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
How to go to Shibuya Station
Because Shibuya Station is a terminal, various lines enter the station. From JR, there are Yamanote Line, Saikyo Line, and Shonan Shinjuku Line, and from Tokyo Metro, there are Ginza Line, Hanzomon Line, and Fukutoshin Line. Three lines from each. From Tokyu Dentetsu, there are Denentoshi Line and Toyoko Line. Also, there is the Keio Inokashira Line. That would be nine lines in total that go in and out of Shibuya Station.
One example of going to Shibuya from Narita Airport would be to take Yamanote Line from JR Tokyo Station, which would take about 25 minutes.
Where to stay at Shibuya or Shinjuku?
Shibuya has many hotels good for travelers from overseas, but Shinjuku Station, which is three stops away by Yamanote Line, also has hotels popular among foreigners. It may be difficult to decide.
If you compare the two areas, Shinjuku has more high-class hotels. The rooms are more spacious, good for families. On the other hand, perhaps because Shibuya is known to be a district for young people, they do not have as many expensive types. Shibuya has many capsule hotels and budget hotels allowing you stay reasonably, so if you are traveling alone and want to spend less on lodging, look for hotels in Shibuya.
This is “Shibuya-kei”! About Shibuya fashion and fads
Shibuya has always set the fashion trend. The fashion of the youth is called “Shibuya-kei fashion (kei=style),” and has always garnered attention. Shibuya-kei fashion is usually called “Gyaru (gal)-kei.” The characteristic of “Gyaru-kei” fashion takes in whatever is the trend at time, and looks cool. During the 90's, it was mainstream to show a lot of tanned skin. Recently, the leading trend is feminine, fresh, and dressy looking. “Casual" is the keyword for men. An example would be denim pants with a jersey top and a hooded sweatshirt. A casual look is the point in Shibuya-kei. The girls will love it.
Nightlife in Shibuya and recommended bars
WOMB is a nightclub that has been around for a long time, always at the center of Shibuya's nightlife. They have been introducing the world's cutting-edge electronic music culture to Japanese music fans in real time, and at the same time, helped artists expand overseas and actively collaborated with famous nightclubs of the world. WOMB has always been transmitting Tokyo's distinctive music scene to the world. It is a spot to enjoy music in Shibuya at nighttime, where many music-loving foreigners also gather.
●2-16, Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
The best thing about this nightclub is that it is a five-minute walking distance from Shibuya Station. The biggest selling point is the deep sound coming from their custom-made RAY AUDIO speakers. This is the only place you can have fun dancing while feeling the acoustic pressure all over your body. Music genres are diverse, so another characteristic is that you can enjoy various types of music. You are sure to enjoy nightclub music unique to Japan.
●B1F Shintaiso Bldg. B1F, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Bar star star
The bar has an impressive Rolling Stones' tongue and lips design. It is where music-lovers gather every night and become alive talking about music. There are many foreigners too, so you won't have a problem mixing and mingling even if you go alone. If you love music, this is where to go.
“Bar star star”
●Yoshino Bldg. 3F, 17-10, Sakuragaokacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
●19:00-3:00 the next day
Halloween in Shibuya is awesome!
It is already famous in social media, but Shibuya's Halloween events are one of the most exciting ones in Japan. Halloween in Japan places a great deal of weight doing cosplay, so around Halloween time, you will see any people wearing costumes to become their favorite characters. You may want to take pictures with them, or participate in events doing cosplay yourself. If you plan on going to Shibuya in October, be sure to check what Halloween events there are.
Summarization on Shibuya
Shibuya is the birthplace of Japan's youth culture. Various cultures started in Shibuya, and its energy is still going strong. Please refer to this information when you plan on going sightseeing in Shibuya.
*The above information was last updated April 27, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
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