Famous for its human traffic at the Shibuya crossroad, this spot offers many modern Japanese goods and services. There are plenty of things to do in Shibuya, but you can definitely cover the basic ones within one day.
Before you start your journey of things to do in shibuya, get yourself to the Shibuya 109 building and you will find yourself in front of the famous Shibuya crossing. There, you can start your journey to various parts or even if you find yourself lost in the sea of people, it’s best to go back to this landmark. If you’re staying outside Shibuya area, take the train to the Shibuya station, and exit the station through the Hachiko side. From the Hachiko exit, you will find yourself in front of the Shibuya crossing, the Hachiko statue and Tokyu Plaza.
Breakfast/Pre-lunch snack at Tokyu Foodshow
If you are looking for your first meal of the day, one of the things to do in Shibuya is to get a snack or quick breakfast before you start exploring. Walk into Tokyu Plaza’s basement until you reach Tokyu Foodshow – half supermarket, half food takeaway counters. There are plenty of bento sets and packed meals to-go at very affordable prices (great for picnics and after dinner meals at home). My personal favorite would be the onigiris which would cost you roughly about 180-300 yen each. I took two onigiris and it totalled to about 500yen plus tax (RM15/ USD5), enough to fill you up until lunchtime. It is slightly cheaper to buy Onigiris from the mart (FamilyMart, Lawsons or 7-11) but the onigiris in Tokyu Foodshow had more fillings and choices hence the price.
Hachiko Statue & Shibuya Crossing
Once you’ve filled yourself up with some snacks while watching people walk by at the Shibuya Crossing, make your way to the Hachiko statue for a photo or two. Hachiko’s statue was erected in 1948, and is still a famous meeting/hangout spot in Shibuya (click here to read more). Hachiko’s loyalty up until its death was even turned into a movie to illustrate the lifetime of this legendary man’s best friend. Best time to go would be during working hours on a weekday to avoid human traffic. Else, you’ll be caught up among locals loitering around, smokers (smoking area just beside the statue) and other tourists.
Other than that, you can just watch the traffic (or more likely the human traffic) at the Shibuya crossing. It’s quite hypnotic in a good way. If you can get a spot at the forever full Shibuya Starbucks to people watch, it would be great but you can also get a good view from the upper level between the Shibuya train station and Shibuya Mark City.
Shopping in Shibuya
Another famous thing to do in shibuya is shopping, even if you’re just window shopping in Shibuya it is still an interesting activity. You will find quite a number of big western brands such as Zara, Forever 21, Chanel among Japanese chain stores. The most famous shopping building in Shibuya would be the Shibuya 109 (for the ladies) and Shibuya 109 Mens (right beside Starbucks) at the crossing. Rumour has it that the stores change as fast as one says “fashion” – if you’re out of trend, you’re out of Shibuya 109. Inside, you will find a myriad of stores selling all sort of trendy items of season by small Japanese retailers. Although Asians are generally a collective community, Japanese youth shows their individuality through their style. If you read fashion magazines such as Mina or Vivi, you will notice that they take their fashion seriously in Japan.
If you’re not into shopping, I would still recommend to walk around the area through a maze of shops and cafes. Don’t worry about getting lost – just say “Hachiko” and someone might point out the right direction for you to get to the station again. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, clothing stores and pet stores to browse through. Pets in Japan are ridiculously adorable, as if pre-packed in Nano sizes for the tiny Japanese homes. Don’t forget to try out any Japanese pastries as they are heavenly.
Buying cosmetics in Japan can be overwhelming. Just check out the crazy array of cosmetics (or the copious amounts of fake eyelash brands) they have at Matsumoto Kiyoshi. You will be able to find basic things you might have left at home such as toothbrushes, shampoo and other toiletry items there too. They usually have multiple floors for different things. This is the best time to stock up on your cosmetic supply for the year as Japanese cosmetics work magic, especially their mascara.
If you’re looking for electronics, cameras or photography accessories, walk over to Bic Camera. If you’re facing the famous Shibuya starbucks, turn right and you will pass 109 mens, Lindt (chocolate) cafe until you reach another traffic light four-junction, Bic Camera will be on your left. Bic Camera is a multi-storey electronic chain in Tokyo so if you’re looking for cameras, camera films or tripods you’ll find that there are plenty of selections to choose from. If you’re into hair styling or beauty electronic items, you will be spoilt for choices as I did.
Tip: When buying electronic goods in Japan, make sure the voltage is compatible to your home country’s voltage. I busted my brand-new hair dryer in Malaysia because I totally wasn’t aware that Malaysian voltage supply is higher than Japan so let’s just give a moment of silence for the dryer.
Love hotel Hills
This is something that we did not get to experience while we were in Japan although we did get lost in an alley in Dogenzaka. I have read about love hotels prior to the trip and this is apparently where you could actually rent themed rooms for a certain amount of time to, well… make love! Regardless of your fetish or fantasies, there would always be something that would fit your taste. I’m not sure if the ones I saw were sleazy, but the ones posted in Kotaku’s website was definitely something that came out of movie sets.
Here are some photos but you can view more interesting ones on Kotaku’s website here.
Visit a petting cafe
The trend of cat cafes aren’t something new in Japan. In fact, cat cafes are so passé that now they have rabbit and owl cafes. All these petting cafes will charge you by the hour and includes one drink. You’re free to pet the animals within the set rules, and no flash photography are usually allowed.
Hapineko Cafe via TripAdvisor.
Photos taken from Wander Tokyo’s review of Hapineko here.
Tokyu Hands DIY store
Tokyu Hands is a d.i.y departmental store that has almost everything you would need to get crafty. From party items, costumes, toys, stationeries and other do-it-yourself separates, you will end up wishing your hometown’s DIY store caters at such scale. If you’re not strong-willed like me, be prepared to spend some cash on cute stationeries and toys you don’t actually need. Tacky costume options for next Halloween party or those geeky robot toys on the shelves might entice you too.
Disneyland Tokyo Store
If you’re planning to go to Tokyo Disneyland, you can get your tickets in the Shibuya flagship store, just a short walk from Muji (map here). Even if you’re not planning to buy the tickets, you can still buy novelty Disney merchandises (the cuter Japanese version) from this store and walk out feeling like a kid all over again. Yes, I willingly caved in over mini beanie bags of disney characters.
Do you have any spots to recommend within this area? Leave us a comment.