Best things to do in Shibuya, Tokyo
Fun and unique things to do in Shibuya. Top attractions and things you cannot miss during your next visit to Tokyo, the capital city of Japan.
You're in Tokyo and are excited to go out and explore. I'm sure you will want to visit Shibuya, one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in the city. I've got good news, there are so many things to do in Shibuya, you are going to love it.
Featured in so many movies, it's only natural that many of us automatically associate Tokyo with Shibuya Crossing. Experiencing Shibuya crossing at night is something straight out of a sci-fi film, with its vibe, colours and precise movement. Everyone knows exactly how to cross and where to go to avoid a collision. It's like this incredible unspoken teamwork between strangers.
I am certain that Shibuya is an excellent place for travellers to Japan, who want an introduction to the capital's energetic side and some of the best things to do in Tokyo. So make sure you add it to your list because it's incredible. The vibe, the lights, the feeling, it's so very Tokyo!
I've marvelled at it in Lost in Translation, Fast and Furious and Resident Evil. When I finally got to cross the Shibuya Scramble (and not just once, but several times) I realised how cool it really is to finally be able to feel the Tokyo spirit at one single square.
Of course, Tokyo is an enormous place and I soon realised that each neighbourhood is unique and have a crazy amount of great attractions. But there was something incredible about the Shibuya nightlife that mesmerised me. The neon lights, the lively locals, the coolest stores. Shibuya was definitely one of the best places to stay in Tokyo and experience over and over again. Here are the best things to do in Shibuya.
Table of ContentsOpen
See also these articles related to your Tokyo trip
- The Ultimate Guide to Tokyo
- What to wear in Tokyo
- Best Tokyo itinerary
- Best Places to visit in Tokyo
- Tokyo Restaurants Guide
- Best Tokyo Street Food
- The Best Spots To See Tokyo From Above
- Best Day Trips from Tokyo
Are you ready to start exploring? Let's start with the Shibuya Pedestrian Scramble which is the star attraction in Shibuya but also in the whole of Tokyo.
You can either visit Shibuya Crossing late at night when there is virtually nobody crossing these roads. That gives you a pretty cool, post-apocalyptic feel to Tokyo. You can also take your time and really enjoy the huge space between the buildings and capture some unique pictures that would be otherwise impossible with the surrounding crowds. This is a whole movie experience in my opinion and something I strongly recommend you try in Shibuya.
Another option is to visit Shibuya during peak hours, to really experience the Shibuya Crossing vibe. It's hectic, but in an organised way. The colours, the music, the sounds, it's all an explosion of awesome to all your senses. You will feel alive!
Peak hours are early morning from around 7 am to 9.30 am and just after work, starting around 5 pm until very late. As the crossing is a popular meeting point, expect to see an incredible number of people rushing around until midnight or even later.
Fun Fact: During rush hours, it's not uncommon that 2500 people are crossing every time the lights turn green. That's about a quarter of a million people every day. Be one of them and have fun!
Where to take pictures of the Shibuya Crossing
When someone asks me about things to do in Shibuya, I automatically suggest taking pictures and videos. The best place in Shibuya to take pictures of the crossing is in one of the many nearby tower hotels.
The top floors offer epic views over the Shibuya Crossing and its hectic life. Alternatively, you can hunt for a window seat at the Starbucks located right opposite Shibuya Station. Now, remember that this is only available for customers, so you might want to buy a coffee and wait for your perfect spot.
Getting to Shibuya
If you arrive by train or subway to Shibuya Station, getting out of the station building might be a challenge, especially if you just arrived in Tokyo. Take your time and enjoy the seemingly chaotic train station and look for the signs leading you towards the exits.
Be mindful that this is one of the busiest stations in Tokyo and many of the passengers are commuters. Please always take care to not block their path as even small delays can cause them to miss their next train.
Fun fact: There is a full-sized football field on top of the train station. At night, you can see the light-up field from taller buildings around. It's quite surreal.
You will find the Shibuya crossing on the Northside of the Shibuya Station. The Hachikō Memorial Statue is also at the North entrance.
At the South entrance, you will see the not so well-known Moyai Statue and the Shibuya Bus Terminal (Shibuya Eki Mae).
Trains and Subway Lines that stop at Shibuya:
- Ginza Line
- Fukutoshin Line
- Hanzomon Line
- Keio-Inokashira Line
- Narita Express (JR)
- Saikyo Line
- Shonan-Shinjuku Line
- Tokyu-Den-entoshi Line
- Tokyu-Toyoko Line
- Yamanote Line
If you have a JR Pass, you can use the trains on the Yamanote Line for free, included in the price of your pass.
Shopping in Shibuya
With so many malls, shopping streets and department stores, it's no wonder Shibuya really is a shopper's paradise. I found that Ginza is for the high-end shopper, Harajuku is the place to go for Takeshita Street with all its latest pop culture crazes, and Shibuya sits somewhere right in the middle.
You will find expensive items, fun stores and also cheap funky shops. I honestly believe that shopping is one of the best things to do in Shibuya at night because many stores lit up and add to the atmosphere.
If you fancy some contemporary shopping in Shibuya, make your way to the Shibuya market known as Omotesando Plaza. It's a multi-story shopping mall with kawaii clothes and all sort of accessories. It feels modern and fun. For a more sophisticated shopping experience walk to Omotesando Hills and check out all the world-known posh brands like Bulgari, Apple, Tiffanys and more.
Don't worry if you get stuck in the myriad of stores and small shops within the train station. We spent at least 2 hours walking around, looking at the endless new and exciting merchandise.
If you get hungry or just want to get something to drink, you will find hundreds of restaurants, eateries, bars and pubs to satisfy your every craving. Believe me, you can't go wrong wherever you go.
Shibuya is vibrant not just because of the countless daily commuters and the sheer amount of shops, but because Tokyo's youth finds it a great place for an epic party.
There are tonnes of cool things to do in Shibuya. Have a beer in a Japanese pub, enjoy Karaoke with your friends, or end up in a fantastic club in Tokyo (such as Womb - one of the best Shibuya attractions for nightlife seekers). The Tokyo kids really know how to party, so if you are inexperienced, take it easy until you get used to Japan's spectacular nightlife.
Train services operate from 5 am until around midnight, sometimes even later. If your accommodation is not around Shibuya, make sure to check the timetables, as it might take several hours to walk to other parts of Tokyo if you miss your last trains.
The statue of Hachiko is a popular meeting place in Shibuya, located right in front of the train station. Of course, for those who are aware of Hachiko's sad story, this is a great place to take a photo and commemorate the man's best friend.
I wrote about Hachiko in a previous article, 24 hours in Tokyo. To sum it up, Hachiko used to wait daily for his owner in front of the Shibuya train station and walk home together. One day, Hachiko's owner died whilst at university and never made it back to Hachiko.
Every night for the next 7 years, Hachiko came back to the Shibuya station and waited for his owner. Eventually, other commuters started noticing him. His statue is a reminder of the importance of the relationship between man and dog.
If you enjoyed the Golden Gai in Shinjuku or the Memory Lane, I am sure you will love Nonbei Yokocho as well. This is a small neighbourhood dotted with bars, cafes and restaurants which have a very Japanese atmosphere. It's a brilliant place to grab a bite or to relax with a beer before heading out to a Japanese nightclub.
If you are after pictures, these tiny alleyways are perfect for capturing the "Tokyo mood". Most places have red lanterns outside that are illuminated during the night.
If you don't like going on your own, sign up for one of the guided tours around Shibuya. They are great fun and your guide will show you countless interesting things which tourists otherwise miss.
Are you searching for places to visit in Shibuya? If drinking is not your thing, don't worry, you will find plenty of geeky things to do in Shibuya. In fact, Shibuya has tonnes of manga cafes where you can rent a booth and have access to an entire collection of manga and anime books.
As Manga Cafes got very popular, some introduced membership programs. Members can enjoy lower prices and stay overnight with sleeping and showering facilities provided. It seems like a pretty cool place to spend the night, definitely much cheaper than in a hotel.
You will need Japanese skills for most hotels, as they don't have English books. But I still think it's a fun thing to just immerse yourself in the local culture.
Shibuya, just like Shinjuku has plenty of love hotels, especially in a spot called "Love Hotel Hill". A love hotel is a place where you can rent a room for a few hours or the whole night.
This is not your ordinary hotel, as it's used by men and women who want a bit of privacy for a short period of time. There are strict policies in these hotels and confidentiality is guaranteed. I wrote a little more about this in our Tokyo adult guide. Some love hotels have been featured in a few recent movies, including the 2020 Lost Girls & Love Hotels.
Pachinko is a Japanese arcade where people go to play games and slot machines. It's definitely an experience; hence I recommend you to give it a try, but I understand if you need a breath of fresh air after a couple of minutes.
As gambling is generally illegal in Japan, so Pachinko places had to be crafty. Pachinkos are not considered gambling as you win no money. Your winnings are small pachinko balls that can be exchanged for special tokens. These tokens can be 'sold' in the shops next door for cash or other items. Because you did not receive any cash in the parlour, no laws were broken.
One of the best things to do in Shibuya? Stay in a capsule hotel. After a crazy night out, it's understandable if you can't afford to get a cab back home, and you might live too far to walk. Capsule hotels are a great compromise, as you get a space to shower, chill and get the sleep you truly deserve.
As the name suggests, you sleep in a capsule. The hotels are normally male-only, but some cater to females and couples too. Each capsule equipped with an alarm and TV. In newer hotels, the capsules are much larger and come with extras like a small table large bed, etc.
Capsule hotels are a fun experience and I recommend sleeping in one for at least one night, just to do something entirely different whilst in Shibuya.
Ohara Matsuri Parade in Shibuya
If it happens to visit Tokyo during summer and wondering what to see in Shibuya, then definitely attend the Ohara Matsuri, a dance festival which takes place in mid-May.
The festival originates from Kagoshima where it's still held every year in November. Participants dance together in unison to traditional music such as Ohara-bushi.
Everybody dresses in traditional Yukata (summer style Kimono) or Happi (colourful overcoat worn during festivities). People also wear masks and other handmade costumes. You are welcome to join in if you like and enjoy the music and dance.
Shibuya Kagoshima Ohara Matsuri dates. Check the official site for more details (in Japanese).
|2021||May 15-16 (Cancelled)|
|2020||May 16-17 (Cancelled)|
Once you had enough of Shibuya's agitation, it's time to chill in Sakuragaoka-Cho, a quiet street dotted with cherry trees, eateries, and cafes. It tends to get a bit busy during the sakura season.
I would recommend going there to people watch for an entire afternoon, whilst enjoying matcha drinks and desserts. It's one of my favourites districts near Shibuya, and it's actually considered a small district of its own with 1800+ people.
Sushi bars & Conveyor belt sushi
No trip to a Tokyo neighbourhood is complete without enjoying the classic sushi. There are lots of sushi bars in Shibuya but look out for the sushi train restaurants (kaiten-zushi) as they are fun, fresh, and cheap.
For a more intimate experience, head over to a posh sushi place and order handmade, delicious sushi directly from the itamae (sushi chef).
If you are a foodie, then enjoying a sushi bar near Shibuya is a must! For me, every sushi place was an attraction in Shibuya. So delicious and good!
Pay as you go restaurants
Another brilliant thing you will love to do in Shibuya is going to the sheer number of vending machine restaurants. At the entrance, there is a vending machine displaying all items from the menu.
You select what you want to eat and drink, and pay for your meal in advance. You receive a ticket with the order to hand over to the waitress.
Take a seat and the food will follow shortly. This is another great example of how efficient the Japanese are. You go in, order, pay, eat and go. No waiting around, no wasting time ordering, paying, asking for dessert menus and so on. Simple and to the point.
It's worth noting that these restaurants are quick, cheap, and still delicious. You normally get a glass of water and hot tea for free, with unlimited refills. Rice refills are also normally free, look for the rice cooker and help yourself.
Want more? In Shibuya, you can also find an array of vending machines that sell beverages and snacks. You will find one at every step. It's a fun thing to do and experience in Tokyo!
The Shibuya Station
As mentioned above, the Shibuya Train Station is one of the biggest and busiest in Tokyo. This doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the station and get lost in this huge, multi-story shopping centre.
Don't be afraid of crowds, it's great fun to navigate the station by using the Tokyo subway map.
Shibuya Station is more than just a station, it has stores, restaurants, shops! You can find plenty of things to do just in the Shibuya Station, so you can understand the vast scale of things in Tokyo and in the Shibuya district itself. Essentially, you will be so busy exploring all these, you will never run out of things to do, see, experience and photograph!
Relax in Shibuya
It sounds impossible, given the large crowds and noise at the Shibuya Crossing, but occasionally, it's good to just be in a new place, sit down and take it all in.
Chill by the Shibuya Crossing and take notes in your journal or just wander around the place. I, personally, find this to be one of the greatest ways to enjoy a new destination.
Shibuya really comes to life after dark, when you have the chance to see tonnes of neon lights and lit up jumbo adverts.
You will also find that once you hit the small streets around the station, the crowds thin out and an entirely new Shibuya reveals itself to you.
There are three shrines right around the Shibuya station (Miyamasumitake Shrine, Chiyoda Inari Shrine, Oyamainari Shrine), which you should visit for a few minutes of quiet contemplation.
Where to go from Shibuya
Shibuya is great fun, but it's only one of the best neighbourhoods in Tokyo. Shinjuku, Chiyoda, Ginza are just a short train ride away.
The good thing about Tokyo is that by the time you're finished with one area, it probably changed already, so you can start over. That's the beauty of Tokyo: it's never static, never boring.
And if you don't like going on your own, you can even rent a friendly, local guide for a few hours to show you around and introduce you to the secrets of the city.
Where to stay in Shibuya
Apart from love and capsule hotels, there are plenty of great accommodation options in Shibuya. If you want to be in the heart of Tokyo and enjoy proximity to most of the city's main attraction, finding a hotel in Shibuya might be a great choice.
Whether you are a budget, midrange or luxury traveller, we curated our favourite accommodations in Shibuya to make sure you are comfortable and enjoy your stay.
The Millennials Shibuya
The Millennials Shibuya is located just 400 metres away from the famed Shibuya crossing. Each room comes with shared bathroom and free toiletries. A very nice buffet service is served each morning at the property and it is included in the price. The rooms are super clever and can be used as day lounges as well bedrooms due to the reclining capability of your bed. Prices started from £23 per night.Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com
Sakura Fleur Aoyama
Sakura Fleur Aoyama is located in central Tokyo, a short 5-minute walk from Shibuya Train Station. It offers rooms with free Wi-Fi, a video-on-demand system and an en suite bathroom. Your luggage can be stored at the front desk and you can access the laundry and dry cleaning services. You can just ask at the reception. Each room has a fridge, a work desk and a tv with satellite channels. Prices start from £77 per night.Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel is a luxurious 5-star hotel with amazing views of the city. You can enjoy a spacious room and be just 5 minutes away from Shibuya Station. The bed is incredibly comfortable and the luxury private bathroom comes with all toiletries needed. Guests at Tokyu Hotel Cerulean Tower can unwind in the sauna or hot tub, or enjoy a treatment in the beauty salon. The many other facilities include a pastry shop and a nursery.Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com
Also, don't forget to check more article below relevant to your upcoming trip to Tokyo.
- 1 day in Tokyo
- 5 days in Tokyo
- 7 days in Tokyo
- Best time to visit Japan
- Souvenirs from Japan
- Experience sumo in Tokyo
- Dress like an oiran in Tokyo
That's it! You are now an expert on all the things to do in Shibuya and are ready to explore this amazing district in Tokyo, Japan. With so many attractions in Shibuya, you are going to have an incredible time and come back with amazing souvenirs from Japan.
Shibuya is well known for its pedestrian scramble, but you now know how to go and explore beyond it, and discover impressive streets, beautiful shops and fantastic restaurants.
What is your favourite thing to do in Shibuya and why? Let us know in the comments section below.
What do you think?
Did you like this article? Do you have any questions or suggestions?
Leave a comment below.
Cory, we are not looking for nightlife and everyone tells us Shibuya is a bit chaotic. We are in our 70s and my wife needs a slower pace to walk. Do you still recommend us to visit Shibuya or should we stay closer to our hotel?
Thank you for your message. We recommend Shibuya for you. It doesn't have to crazy or chaotic. You do it on your own pace. When you cross the Shibuya crossing simply be more to the side to ensure you don't bump into anyone. But locals will see that you need a slower pace and will avoid you anyway. You can enjoy the food in Shibuya and the nightlife is fun to just watch you don't need to go partying. There are plenty of restaurants in the area and you and your wife can just take a nice ramen in the centre of Tokyo. Just take it easy and you will have fun.
We did two things in Shibuya: Shibuya crossing at night which was super chaotic. We managed to take some pictures with my wife and daughter and it was so much fun. We ate in a ramen bar as per your recommendation and it was great. My daughter went with her boyfriend to take pictures of shibuya crossing in the middle of the night and there were like 10 people crossing. She said it was really cool. Great list, Cory, thank you.
Wow Daryll, thank you for letting us know. We are really excited that our things to do in Shibuya article helped you. Also excited to hear your daughter enjoyed her time taking photos. It did feel post-apocalyptic a little didn't it? Safe travels!
Love all the things to do in Shibuya. We went to this super small restaurant and used the vending machine to order ramen. So futuristic and cool. We need that in the states as well.
Hi Ryan, we were just saying that we need those vending machine restaurants: quick and easy and a lot cheaper. The food is quick and delicious as well. Ah, what a cool thing to do in Shibuya, loved it to bits!
Hi Cory, I just read that I can use my JR Pass for the Shinkansen but you mentioned I can use them within Tokyo. Is it valid for the metro as well? I want to get to Shibuya using the green line I think?
Can you please help?
Hi Maria, the JR Pass can be used on almost all trains. You can use it on the Shinkansen as well as regional and some local trains. You got it right, Yamanote line is a green circle line in Tokyo. It is operated by train and can be used with the JR Pass. You cannot use your JR Pass for metro, however. You will need either single tickets purchased on the day, or you can get a Pasmo card which is a rechargeable plastic card with prepaid amount of money on it. It's easier to use around Tokyo.
I now have a list of what to do in Shibuya, thanks. I'm staying in Shibuya for 2 days for a conference with work and won't have time to explore other parts of Tokyo. Is this enough?
Hi Sarah, thank you for your message. Really glad our things to do in Shibuya helped you plan the days. You can def do all of the above in two days in Shibuya. Although if you ask me, you can spend a month meandering about Shibuya and still have stuff left to do :) You will love it!
Have lots of fun.
Hey Cory, thank you for your article. We are a young couple looking to experience Shibuya nightlife. Any recommendations? Weird is also good.
Hi L&M :) you can do Womb which is one of the best nightclubs in Shibuya if you want to experience the nightlife. You can also do TK and Sound Museum Vision. Enjoy your party time :)
Love all the great things to do in Shibuya. I LOVED the shops on the Omotesando Hills. We travelled there with our teenage daughters and they were glued to the windows. Shibuya at night is also incredible. Thank you for your article
Ah Joanne, I can relate. I love Omotesando Hills so much. One of my fav places for shopping in Tokyo. Shibuya is pretty epic indeed. Glad you enjoyed it with your daughter. Safe travels
Fantastic post and a complete guide of the beautiful place Shibuya. I have never been there as it was not in my bucket list but after reading your post I found this place very interesting and now I can't wait to explore it. Keep sharing such wonderful destinations.
I'm really excited to hear, Monica. I reckon you are going to love all the things to do in Shibuya!
Thank you for great information. Planning trip to Tokyo- staying in Shinjuku for few days, what other area would you recommend- Shibuya or Akihabara? Traveling with 22 year old daughter.
Shibuya is classier and Akihabara is more youth-oriented. If you daughter loves electronics, manga, anime and cosplay, then Akihabara. If you like classier restaurants, more mid-range - luxury, then Shibuya is better.
I hope this helps. Enjoy Japan.
very informative, am planning for a trip with my teenagers in dec 2018
Thank you. They will LOVE it!
Bring back Memories of my Tokyo Tour.
HI, Thank you so much for all of the great information. We are going to Japan in Late Sept. Love all of the information you have provided!!!
Good article thanks. Will enjoy Japan.
Hi Ray, You will absolutely love it! Enjoy your trip