Shibuya (渋谷) encapsulates the stereotypical image of Tokyo better than any other area. No self-respecting travel documentary would dare broadcast an episode on Tokyo without at least one scene showing Shibuya’s crowds or the neon signs at night. Walk out of the Hachiko Exit of JR Shibuya Station and you will be faced with swarms of young trendsetters, bright screens, noise from just about every direction, and the famous scramble crossing—reputedly the world’s busiest. Whatever your interests, Shibuya is unmissable for visitors to Tokyo.

Shibuya is also the name of the ward—one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo—but it is almost always used to refer to the area around the Shibuya Station.

One of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks—a small bronze statue of a dog called Hachiko—stands just outside the Hachiko Exit of JR Shibuya Station, and is the de-facto meeting point. On the other side of the famous scramble crossing is Center Gai, a shopping district which is the center of this side of the station. Here you’ll find many of the major department stores such as LOFT and Tokyu Hands.

Shibuya’s scramble crossing (credit)

The entire area is in fact undergoing a major redevelopment that started with new high-rise commercial complexes like Hikarie and more recently has seen the re-opening of Miyashita Park and the construction of Shibuya Scramble Square as part of the first phase of this mammoth project. The second phase, which will see several more low-rise buildings to the west of the station is due for completion in 2027. But areas of the old Shibuya still remain. The best of which is probably the narrow drinking alley of Nonbei Yokocho north of the station.

The History of Shibuya

Shibuya was once home to farmland and tea fields, and Shibuya Station began its life in 1885 as a small suburban railway stop. But it was really after the war that Shibuya began the mecca of youth culture that it is today. Like Shinjuku, it suffered heavily in the air raids of 1945 and the ruins were prime bartering grounds for street hawkers and black market stalls in the immediate post-war era. In the 1950s it was—rather fittingly for an area that today seems the epicenter of commerce—the department stores that led the redevelopment of the area: Tokyu Department store (est. 1954), Tokyu Bunka Kaiken (est. 1957), and Tokyu Building (est. 1965; now Tokyu Plaza). As the 1970s and 1980s brought in dramatic shifts in the attitudes and wants of youth culture, Shibuya found itself at the center of it all—a position it still holds today.

Shibuya in 1952. Hachiko’s statue can be seen to the bottom left of the photograph.
Key Attractions

Bunkamura

Built in 1989, Bunkamura was the first large-scale cultural complex in Japan. It contains a concern hall, gallery, and a small art museum.

Hachiko Memorial Statue

A bronze statue of a small dog by the name of Hachiko that is one of Tokyo’s most well-known landmarks.

Hikarie

A 34-floor skyscraper completed in 2012. The department store ShinQs occupies B3F to 5F with basement food courts and fashion stores mainly targeting young women. Above there is a restaurant floor, a creative/art space, and a large theatre on 11F-16F (Tokyu Theatre Orb) which shows Western musicals.
10:00-21:00

Mega Don Quijote

Popular discount chain store that sells just about anything. Items are stacked on top of each other and crammed onto shelves like some sort of modern day bazaar. And that’s kind of the attraction—you never quite know what you’ll find down each aisle. A great store for souvenirs or a weird gadget to take back for friends and family.
24/7

Nonbei Yokocho

Small, narrow alley a short distance from Shibuya station that is home to many kiosk-sized bars. A good place to make friends with the locals over a beer or strike up a conversation with the bartender (some speak English).
Evening until the early hours of the morning. Many of the bars are closed on Sundays.

Rayard Miyashita Park Shopping Mall

As park of Shibuya’s redevelopment, Miyashita Park re-opened as a shopping/entertainment complex in 2020. The park above has been redesigned and below it sits 3-floors of shops, boutiques, and restaurants.
Shops 11:00-21:00 / Restaurants 11:00-23:00

Shibuya 109

The Shibuya 109 department store has been leading the way in female fashion for the under 30s for the best part of four decades. Nowadays, it is associated with the gyaru (“girl”) sub-culture which sees young women dye their hair and attach fake eyelashes in search of an alternative Barbie-look.
10:00-21:00

Shibuya Loft

LOFT is an urban lifestyle store that sells everything from stationery and watches to health products and kitchenware. It is a superb place if you’re looking for gifts to take back. LOFT does also have branches in other areas of the city (e.g. Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Yurakucho), but the Shibuya branch is one of the best.
10:00-21:00

Shibuya Mark City

One of Shibuya’s most well-known commercial complexes is home to a shopping mall, a hotel, offices, and more than 70 restaurants. The entrance to the Keio Inokashira Line is on the second floor of the building.
10:00-19:00

Shibuya Scramble Square

230-meter high shopping and office complex with an open-roof viewing deck on its top floor.
Shibuya Sky: ¥1,800 if booked in advance online; ¥2,000 same day. Discounts available for students and children.
Shops 10:00-21:00 / Restaurants 11:00-24:00 / Shibuya Sky 9:00–23:00 (final admission is at 22:00)

Tokyu Hands Shibuya

Self-styled “Creative Life Store” chain. Shibuya is one larger branches, selling everything from outdoor camping equipment to animals and pet supplies. You can often find more gimmicky items in its toys and electronics department. Another good place for souvenirs.
10:00-21:00
Events & Festivals in the Area

Shibuya-Kagoshima Ohara Matsuri

Mid May 2022
The Shibuya-Kagoshima Ohara Matsuri (おはら祭) is an annual event held in the center of Shibuya which has roots in Ohara-bushi…

Firefly Evening

Mid Jun 2022
Japan’s smallest botanical garden is located about a 10-minute walk from Shibuya Station and each year hosts a…
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