Home to blow-your-mind sites, food, and history, Shibuya is unquestionably Tokyo’s most exciting neighborhood. Check out these 17 amazing experiences you can only have in Shibuya and start planning your Japan itinerary for the trip of a lifetime. Any questions after reading? Contact us!
Shibuya Crossing is one Tokyo must-do that you want to catch at its busiest. One of the world’s craziest intersections, literally thousands of pedestrians clamber across the streets (and each other) in all directions during 2-minute “scrambles” before regular traffic begins again. Seriously.
Make sure to go at night, when the flashing lights and rush of people make Shibuya Crossing an absolute marvel.
Pro tip: Watch the Shibuya Crossing scramble once on the ground, then again from a nearby shop like Starbucks, the Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyo, or L’Occitane—you’ll have a free birds-eye view of one of Japan’s most incredible activities.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane—no, it’s flying sushi! At Uobei Restaurant, made-to-order sushi flies down a conveyor belt at top speeds from the kitchen to your table, putting this restaurant near the top of our list of coolest things to do in Japan. Plus, each sushi dish only cost 105 yen (95 cents)!
No, this street is not home to hundreds of cats, but it is a “catwalk” for the newest hipster trends fresh out of Shibuya. Only a 10-minute walk from Shibuya Station, Shibuya Cat Street is a half-mile stretch known for its eclectic, vintage boutiques and laid-back cafes. Stop by the “R.a.a.g.f. Rabbit and Grow Fat” Bunny Cafe to cuddle fluffy bunnies over coffee (and make sure to chat with a local who lives in Shibuya for more adorable recommendations).
Pro tip: Since Japan is very safe for travelers, feel free to venture to Cat Street and the nearby Omotesandō district after sunset when locals head out for drinks with friends or romantic dinners.
Known for its one-of-a-kind zelkova trees and glitzy shopping options, the Omotesandō district is Shibuya’s most bougie area. A staple for luxury Japanese trips, Omotesandō is also fantastic for window-shopping some crazy Tokyo styles. Tokyo locals recommend Shibuya 109 for a taste of the newest (and most ridiculous) Tokyo fashions.
Surrounded by a massive cedar forest and a 40-foot sacred torii gate, Meiji Jingu (Shrine) will make you feel like you’ve stepped back into the samurai age. Buy a shrine book to get a lucky stamp, then make a wish on an ema block—easily two of the most authentic things to do in Japan.
Pro tip: Some of the best times to go to Japan line up with Meiji’s incredible festivals, like the New Year’s Day ritual (Jan. 1), the Children’s Festival (May 5), and the Autumn Grand Festival (Nov. 2). For fewer crowds, ask a Shibuya local about Japan’s off-peak tourist season.
You may not expect to get a taste of Turkey in Japan, but Shibuya is full of surprises. The Turkish Cultural Center is situated right next to Tokyo Camii, Japan’s largest mosque. Not only is this Japan point of interest known for its incredibly ornate architecture and welcoming people—but it’s also a short train ride away from the Meiji shrine.
At Shibuya’s Lockup Dungeon Cafe, having a nightmarish dining experience is actually a good thing. Monsters (ok, just people in really good costumes) run around your tables (“cells”) while you sip alcoholic concoctions from test tubes. For real, Tokyo is known for its bizarre dining experiences, so if the Lockup Dungeon Cafe floats your boat, you’ll find no shortage of weird things to do in Tokyo.
Shibuya Station is a total Tokyo must-see, not only for its rush of people but also for its highly-rated cheap sushi joints like Genki Sushi and Hakushu Teppanyaki. Grab a bite to eat, then head over to the next-door Shibuya Hikarie Observatory, a massive shopping complex where you’ll get a free, incredible birds-eye view of Shibuya Station and Shibuya Crossing.
Pro tip: If you go through Shibuya Station on a day trip from Tokyo, give yourself an hour or two to explore the station before leaving—with so much to see, you won’t regret having the extra time.
Shibuya practically overflows with art galleries and museums, perfect for the occasional rainy day or the classy night on the town. For a truly local experience of Tokyo, head to galleries like the PARCO Museum and Seibu Shibuya to view soak in contemporary art from Shibuya’s up-and-coming artists—for bragging rights, see their works before they make it big time.
About a 15-minute walk from Shibuya proper, Yoyogi Park is essentially Tokyo’s Central Park. Tokyo locals of all ages visit the park to reconnect with nature through tai-chi. Even if you’ve only got three days in Tokyo, take a morning to wake up early and join an elderly group’s tai-chi practice—they love visitors, and you’ll connect with tai-chi masters who know their stuff.
By far one of the coolest parts of Shibuya, capsule hotels are affordable, futuristic Japan accommodations, unlike any place you’ve ever stayed. Not for the claustrophobic, capsule hotels offer in-wall compartments with single beds, a lamp, and (sometimes) a TV. Running at $20–40 per night, capsule hotels are the perfect way to budget travel in Japan.
Pro tip: You’ll often get discounted rates for making capsule hotel reservations in advance—ask a Japanese trip planner to call ahead and make sure you’ve got the best deals on accommodations.
Sundown to sunrise, there’s no better place to party than Shibuya’s fantastic club scene. Lose track of the hours at Sound Museum Vision, Gas Panic, or Club Asia, all of which showcase world-renowned DJs. With most night clubs within walking distance of Shibuya Station, you can use the subway or take an Uber to and from the club (yes, there is Uber in Japan).
As one of Shibuya’s unofficial landmarks, the Hachiko statue stands proudly in front of Shibuya Station, honoring the faithful Akita puppy that returned to Shibuya Station every day after its owner died. Since the loyal canine is so famous, the line for pictures can be fairly long; Tokyo locals suggest visiting the statue between noon and 2 PM for fewer crowds.
Get in on the action at the Maruhan Pachinko Hall, where locals and foreigners alike try their luck at hundreds of pinball-like pachinko machines. Easily one of the top places to visit in Japan, Maruhan is a fantastic way to experience Japan’s love of gaming, with the neon lights and carnival sounds making you feel like a kid again.
Pro tip: Many pachinko halls only accept coins, so make sure to save your change. Local Japanese fixers can give you the inside scoop on the best ways to exchange your US dollars for Japanese yen.
Talk about your Tokyo hidden gem—the Yebisu Beer Museum is a vintage brewery only 10 minutes from Shibuya Station by subway. With free tours and $5 beer tastings, an hour at the Yebisu Beer Museum is well-spent. Museum exhibits are in both English and Japanese, so you won’t miss a thing.
Shibuya is the ideal Tokyo neighborhood for souvenir shopping, especially because everything is so darn kawaii (cute). Local stores like Wa-Zakka Maruara Watanabe and Kiddy Land carry Japanese gifts you just have to buy, including (but not limited to) everything Hello Kitty, bento boxes, toe socks, and crazy Japanese snacks to bring home.
At the end of a long day sightseeing and shopping, there’s no better way to kick back than having a drink (or four) in Nonbei Yokocho. Known as Drunkard’s Alley, this alleyway is home to hole-in-the-wall bars with mouth-watering sake and yakitori (chicken kebabs), great for anyone traveling Japan on the cheap.
Pro tip: Since Nonbei Yocho is busiest after 7 PM, getting evening drinks is a great way to meet local friends and fellow travelers.
Putting Shibuya at the top of your Japan itinerary? We couldn’t agree more. But before you fly off, make sure to chat with a local Japanese trip planner—they’ll help you fill your itinerary with all sorts of hidden gems and insider info. Plus, they’re available with 24/7 phone support. Basically, it’s like having a best friend in Japan. Any questions? Message us to get connected, check out more Japan travel essentials below: