Top 8 Sights in Shibuya
By Eric S. Tessier on 24 Feb 2016
Shibuya is one of Tokyo’s must see places. From the moment you exit the train station it is instantly both impressive and overwhelming. There may be no other Tokyo sight so iconic. It has crowded shopping streets full of bright flashing lights, crazy stores selling everything from the fashionable to the bizarre, tiny alleys crammed with tiny bars, and so much more. But where to start? Below you’ll find some of Shibuya’s top sights, listed in no particular order.
Hachiko: Japan’s Most Famous Meeting Place
Directly outside of Shibuya Station you’ll find a statue of a dog named Hachiko. Hachiko made his fame by being patient and ever faithful. Everyday he came to the station to wait for his master’s return. He became a living legend when this routine continued long after his owner’s death. Now, years later, he is still waiting as a statue. People continue to honor Hachiko’s patience by following suit and waiting for their own loved ones and friends here. So, if you’re meeting anyone in Shibuya, tell them to look for you by Hachiko.
Shibuya Crossing: Japan’s Most Famous Crosswalk
In front of Shibuya Station is the famous scramble crossing, and it’s hard to miss. This multi-directional pedestrian path is crossed by tens of thousands of people each day. Towering above these street are multiple buildings, each with its own giant television screen blasting advertisements for everything from snacks to fashion. The hundreds of running people paired with the flashing lights and images on all sides make this spot an iconic representation of all of Tokyo’s hustle and bustle. It’s also a great chance for you to grab the perfect “I’m in Japan!” selfie.
Nonbei Yokocho: Drunkard’s Alley
Just seconds from Shibuya Crossing is a small alley tucked off the main street. Down this narrow path you’ll find small buildings full of pocket sized bars. This spot crams a lot of charm and history into a small space. After the bombings of World War II this street served as a market for the locals. Though ownership of many of these little shops has long since changed, the street still feels stuck out of time. You may have never seen so many bars stacked in one place. If you have the chance stroll around the alley at night, look for an open bar stool, and grab a drink! The prices can be steep, but you’re really paying for the experience not the liquor.
Center Gai, or Center-Town, is the bright and busy street directly in front of Shibuya Crossing. Here you’ll find interesting shops, restaurants, bars, and more. Even at night the thousands of shop signs keep the street well lit. Poking your head into the numerous stores specializing in everything from souvenirs to designer goods can keep you entertained for hours. There are also hundreds of restaurants throughout the lively area offering pizza, sushi, curry, and everything in between. There’s bound to be the right spot for you. Just remember: Searching is half the fun.
Amazing Department Stores
The idea of traveling across the world to visit a department store might sound a bit funny, but you’ve never seen shops like these back home. Shibuya is home to a number of unique and amazing tower sized shopping complexes that will give you culture shock and then some. Shibuya 109 is a famous women’s fashion mall known for starting outrageous trends as well as catering to the glitzy and the daring. It would be well worth your time to check out a few floors of this stunning fashion-mecca. Don Quixote Shibuya is department store like no other. This crammed and crowded shop sells everything from snacks to wearable stuffed-animals. You’ll find hilarious costumes on one floor, futuristic appliances on another, and designer bags on yet another. There’s really no other place like it. There’s also a Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, which is a bit tamer than the previously mentioned shops, but just as interesting. Here you’ll find neatly organized floors selling everything you’ll ever needed (and some things you didn’t know existed). Everything from the coolest kitchen goods to camping setups can be found here.
Dogenzaka and Love Hotels
This area of Shibuya is a collection of alley streets built on a hill. On these sloping streets you’ll find all sorts of interesting sights. There are hip restaurants, cool bars, and large concentration of Love Hotels. These crisscrossing streets are a lot of fun to get lost in, and if you’ve never checked out a Love Hotel this might be your chance. These inns offer two plans; over-night and hourly. You can pick your room from a touch panel in the lobby and get a few hours off your feet. Arguably, every visitor to Japan should check out a Love Hotel. They have some of the coolest rooms, often reminiscent of a spa or resort hotel, and even supply entertainment. So, if you’re looking for some quiet time to rest, a dip in a jacuzzi, or a private karaoke room, your Love Hotel suite could have you covered
Between Shibuya and Harajuku is Cat Street, a spot filled with some of the hippest stores in Tokyo. Here you’ll find shops catering to the both high-fashion and street-fashion, and maybe a bit more. It’s a pedestrian street so there are no cars to bother you. The buildings here are a bit lower than downtown, so on a nice day you can feel the warmth of the sun as you stroll around. There are plenty of interesting shops, restaurants, and cafes both on Cat Street and on side streets off it. Here you’ll often see Japan’s young and hip in their coolest fashions.
Basement Food Markets
In several of the shops around Shibuya Station you’ll find basements full of mesmerizing and delicious goodies. It’s somewhat of a tradition in Japan to reserve the basement floor of shopping centers for groceries, sweets, and specialty foods. The basements of shops like Hikarie, Tokyu, and Shibuya Mark City are all connected to the station and hold a wonderland of perfectly packaged treats that almost look too good to eat. Here you can see the attention to detail and presentation that many Japanese food companies pride themselves in.
So, there are some of Shibuya’s must see sights. There is so much going on in this city that you might get distracted on your way to one place and end up on your own adventure. But, that can be half the fun! Make sure you set enough time aside to give this area its due and check out these great places!
Eric S. Tessier
Eric is a coffee enthusiast stranded in Tokyo. He enjoys wandering around the city aimlessly and discovering interesting places that lie off the beaten path. When he isn’t walking or drinking coffee he enjoys writing as well as binge watching streaming videos.