Shibuya (渋谷; ) is a shopping and eating district popular with a lot of young Tokyoites. It's within walking distance from two other large shopping districts - Omotesando and Harajuku - as well as being quite close to Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Jingu shrine.
Shibuya deserves a prize as the district with more two-story televisions than any other area in the world.
Shibuya, looking across the "scramble crossing" and straight into Center-gai
On a rainy day
Most of the action in Shibuya is in the hectic blocks to the northwest of the JR station. The best place to get oriented is the Hachikō (ハチ公) exit, which opens onto the five-way "scramble crossing" under the giant video screen. From left to right at the edges of the square are...
- Keio Inokashira line station
- Dōgenzaka (道玄坂) slope
- 109 building
- Bunkamura-dōri (文化村通り) street
- Center-gai (センター街 Sentaa-gai) street
- Q-FRONT building featuring a large Starbucks and the monstrous video screen
- Koen-dōri (公園通り) street
- Inokashira-dōri (井の頭通り), branching to the left after the Seibu Department Store
- 109-2 building
- JR line tracks to Harajuku.
The area to the south of the station is bounded by a highway, so there's not much more than bus terminals (on both sides) and the Tokyu Plaza department store.
The two major roads heading east from the station continue to Aoyama and Roppongi.
One-seat train service is available from Narita Airport to Shibuya on the Narita Express. Trains run every 30-60 minutes and make the run to Shibuya in 70 minutes at a cost of ¥3110, or ¥3500 with the Suica & N'EX Combination Ticket for foreigners. Alternatively you can take the Keisei Skyliner to Nippori station and change to the JR Yamanote Line (approx. 75 minutes, ¥2690).
Budget travelers can take a regular Keisei limited express from Narita Airport to Nippori and change to the Yamanote Line (approx. 110 minutes, ¥1190). In the evenings, faster Access Tokkyu trains from Narita Airport to Nippori shave 20 minutes off the overall travel time against an extra charge of ¥200.
Airport limousine buses run from Narita to the Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu and the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel (90-120 min, ¥3000).
From Haneda Airport, Shibuya can be reached by taking the Keikyu Airport Line to Shinagawa and changing to the JR Yamanote Line (approx. 35 minutes, ¥560). Limousine buses also run from Haneda to the hotels listed above (One hour, ¥1000).
Shibuya's station is a notoriously convoluted web of passageways. Follow the signage and you should find your way out (or in).
- JR Yamanote Line, Saikyo Line, Shonan-Shinjuku Line
- Tokyu Toyoko Line, Den-en-toshi Line
- Keio Inokashira Line
- Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (G01), Hanzomon Line (Z01), Fukutoshin Line (F16)
You can also walk to Ebisu and Harajuku (where you could catch JR Yamanote Line trains), and Omotesando (where you could catch Tokyo Metro Lines).
The Tokyu Toyoko line is the cheapest and most convenient way to visit Yokohama. Eventually in 2012, through service will start to the Fukutoshin subway line; when this happens, a new underground station at nearby Daikanyama will open, and the current Tokyu Toyoko platforms at Shibuya and Daikanyama will be abandoned.
There are many exits.
- Toyoko: exit to Omotesando, and Hachikou.
- JR: exit to Hachikou, and Moyai(fastest transfer to Toyoko)
- Den-en-toshi & Hanzomon: exit to Hachikou, and Omotesando.
A symbol of loyalty
Hachikō, an Akita dog, was born in 1923 and sold to a well to do family in Tokyo while still a puppy. The father of this family, Eisaburo Ueno, a Tokyo University professor in his 50's, loved Hachiko very much and doted on him constantly, taking him for long walks, always brushing him, and even taking baths with him inside the home. He treated him truly as one of the family.
Up until Hachiko was two years old, he always walked to the station with the father and after
the father went through the stalls he would go home by himself. But, then he would return
every day to wait outside the stalls to meet the father coming home. All the locals and train
station people knew this man and this dog had a special bond.
One day however, the father died while he was teaching at the university. Hachiko went to pick
him up but he never came. And, Hachiko never stopped waiting. Every day for about 10 or 11
years he went and waited. The story was picked up and popularized by Japanese newspapers, and Hachiko became a minor celebrity while he still lived, attending the inauguration of his own statue in 1934. He passed away the next year, but his story lives on — and you can still pay him a visit in the collections of the National Science Museum in Ueno.
- Hachikō (ハチ公). A diminutive statue of a dog tucked away in one corner of the big plaza outside the station, best known as a meeting place and for the story (see box). It is also the name of one of the many exits from Shibuya Station and the prime meeting place before a night out. Just hanging out near Hachiko for a while will give you some great people-watching opportunities.
- Center Gai (センター街 Sentaa-gai). The narrow street leading away from the station to the left of the giant video screen, it's famous as the birthplace of many of Japan's youth fashion trends. Center Gai is jam-packed with clothing stores, music stores, and video game arcades. This is a great place to stroll and feel the Shibuya vibe.
- Bunkamura. Bunkamura-dori. A complex featuring an excellent art museum, in addition to theaters for film and stage plays. On the basement floor there's an art and design bookstore as well as a branch of Paris' famous Les Deux Magots café.
- Hikarie (Hikarie). Hikarie is a brand new massive building on the East side of Shibuya station with many restaurants, galleries, and theaters.
Shibuya has a small collection of famously offbeat museums.
- Tobacco and Salt Museum (たばこと塩の博物館 Tabako to Shio no Hakubutsukan), Jinnan 1-1 6-8 (on Koen-dori), . This peculiar institution owes its existence to Japan's peculiar government monopoly on these two substances. The website advises that "dangerous substances are not permitted within the museum".
- TEPCO Electric Energy Museum (電力館 Denryokukan), Jinnan 1-12-10 (on Koen-dori), . Th-Tu 10AM-6PM. A giant multi-story propaganda exercise courtesy of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), primarily devoted to extolling the virtues of nuclear energy. Well done if often more than slightly cheesy exhibits, many of them hands-on, and a great place for kids. Since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima on March 11, 2011 that TEPCO has been incapable of getting under control, the museum has been closed. No date has been given for when (or if) they may reopen it. Free.
There are movie theaters and electronics stores nearby.
Hysterical shopping frenzy
Shibuya has lots and lots of interesting shopping opportunities. It's the home of the huge Tokyu conglomerate (railways, department stores, hotels, housing developments), and thus practically every major store in the area has Tokyu in its name.
Anime & Manga
- Mandarake, BEAM B2F, Udagawa 31-2, . Massive shop devoted to manga, anime, hentai, dojinshi, figurines and collectible offshoots.
- NHK Studio Park, Jinnan 2-2-1 (end of Koen-dori), . Studio sightseeing operation run by the national broadcaster NHK, home to a gift shop selling the widest collection of Domo-kun figures on the planet.
Shibuya is the center of Japanese youth culture and it shows.
- PARCO, . Two 11 story buildings home to youth culture and fashion.
- 0101 (Marui), .
- 109 Building (Ichi-maru-kyu), .
Shibuya has copious music shopping opportunities, but expect some sticker shock as Japanese CDs often clock in at ¥3000+; imports are usually cheaper! In addition to the superstores below, also check out the miniature alternative ghetto (Jinnan 11 and nearby, just past Tokyu Hands), full of tiny specialist record shops.
- Disk Union, Antenna 21, Udagawa 30-7 (Center-gai), . Used and new record dealer with floors each specializing in punk, rock, jazz and dance music.
- HMV, Udagawa 24-1 (off Inogashira-dori), . Closed in August, 2010. Featured six floors of music from all around the world.
- RECOfan, BEAM 4F, Udagawa 31-2 (and other outlets incl. one on Center-gai), . Good shopping for second-hand music in this cavernous hall: all records are categorized and alphabetized for quick browsing, and prices start at ¥100.
- Tower Records, Jinnan 1-22-14 (Koen-dori), . For a while the largest record store in the world, now merely mind-bogglingly huge. Good selection of English books and magazines on the top floor, in addition to 6 other floors of J-pop, Western rock, jazz, classical and DVDs.
- For musical equipment, there's a good cluster of shops just southwest of the JR station. (Take the pedestrian overpass to cross the highway.)
- Harley Davidson Tokyo. Right up the hill from Tokyu Hands is a small street that branches off Center-gai, where you will find this Harley store. They offer t-shirts for people who collect Harley Davidson shirts. As of August 2009, this store has closed.
- Tokyu Hands, 12-18 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (end of Center-gai), ☎ 03-5489-5111, . Promoted as "Creative Life Store", Tokyu Hands has everything from do-it-yourself, interior, hobby, crafts, outdoors to stationery and more. The Shibuya store spans eight floors.
- SBY, (in 109 building, on the eighth floor), . If you fill out a questionnaire, you can get 3 kind of things. It's a free. And you can put on makeup free.
- Loft, (near Tokyu building), . Loft is Seibu's answer to Tokyu Hands, also offering a large array of products related to interior, hobby, crafts and gifts, but with a slightly less strong emphasis on do-it-yourself. The Loft Shibuya branch consists of seven floors.
You can't turn around without spotting a handful of restaurants here-- from ¥100 noodles to top notch gourmet food.
- Kujiraya, Dogenzaka 2-29-22 (Bunkamura-dori, just past 109, opposite Baskin-Robbins.), ☎ +81 03-3461-9145, . The specialty and only food here is whale meat dishes, which are very rare elsewhere. Don't forget to pick up a pro-whaling propaganda pamphlet on your way out. Lunch sets from ¥1300, dinner ¥2000 up.
- Kyotako, (right next to Tokyu Hands). A famous store for takoyaki octopus balls.
- Murghi, Dogenzaka 2-19-2, ☎ +81 03-3461-8809. closed Fridays and Thursday evenings. Founded in 1951, when the owner decided to serve the kind of curry he had enjoyed in Burma before World War II.
- Tokyu Department Store, (right on top of the train station). A superb food section in the basement with enough free samples to make a full lunch, if you don't mind not having a place to sit.
- Gonpachi, 3-6 Maruyama-cho Shibuya-ku 14F (halfway between Shibuya station and Inokashira Line's Shinsen station), ☎ +81 03-5784-2011, . Main restaurant 11:30AM-3:30AM, sushi bar 11:30AM-2PM, 5PM-2AM. Trendy eatery specializing in soba, with a separate sushi bar in the back.
- Kua'aina, 1-10-4 Shibuya (off of Omotesando), ☎ +81 03-3409-3200, . 10AM-11PM. Hawaiian hamburgers, order-at-the counter from a picture menu with English. Meal sets are available for ¥1000, higher after 5PM.
- Tokyo Bellini Caffe, 20-15 Udagawa-cho (8F Humax pavilion Shibuya park-dori), ☎ +81 03-5489-1371, . Lunch 11AM-4PM, tea 4PM-5PM, dinner 5PM-11PM. This is a casual Italian restaurant. There are many kind of delicious pastas and lunch which is changed weekly.
- Sweets Paradise (スイーツパラダイス), Chitose kaikan 1F, 13-8 Udagawacho Shibuyaku (3 minutes walk from Hachiko exit, JR Shibuya station), ☎ +81 03-3463-8525, . 11AM-10PM daily. This is a buffet style restaurant. You can eat as much as you can. There are a lot of sweets such as cakes, pies, yogurt, jelly, and some Japanese sweets like dumpling, anko, and warabimochi. And there are not only sweets but also some pastas, sandwiches, curry and rice, and salad, so it's good for lunch and dinner. ¥1,480 adults, ¥840 children.
- Sakanatei (酒菜亭), Shibuya, Dogenzaka 2-23-1, Koike Building 4F (A quick walk along Bunkamura-dori and across from Tokyu Department Store), ☎ 03-3780-1313, . 5:30PM-1:30AM; closed Su and holidays. Really friendly staff at this izakaya serve up specialities from Shizuoka and fine sake from around Japan.
- Kyosuzu (広尾京寿々), Shibuya, Hiroo 3-17-1-1F,13 minutes for JR and Hibiya line Ebisu station (East), ☎ +81 03-6418-1278, . Noon-3PM, 6PM-midnight. This restaurant serves Japanese dishes. Rice balls for ¥630-.
Shibuya is a major center for nightclubs, music, and dancing. Also, Nonbei-yokochō (のんべい横丁), magically shielded from decades of commercial development, is a narrow alley running alongside the east side of the Yamanote tracks just north of the station. It's packed with traditional yakitori taverns as well as some modern, extremely tiny bars. The district was formed in 1955, and a few of the shops have been operating since then.
- Cafe Apres-Midi (カフェ・アプレミディ), 1-15-7 Jinnan４F (10 min. north of Shibuya station), ☎ +81 03-5428-5121, . Jazzy cafe with 60s decor in moody lighting. Excellent food, try the quiche, although portions are small
- M/13 Cafe, 1-16-14 Metoro Plaza, 2F (east side of JR station, north along tracks), ☎ +81 3-5766-9111. Well-lit cafe with large second-floor windows, serving light meals, coffee and drinks.
- The Pink Cow, 1-3-18 Shibuya (midway between Shibuya and Omote-Sando, across from Aoyama Park Tower), ☎ +81 3-3406-5597, . Artsy cafe-bar-restaurant catering to the young foreigner crowd, with regular English-language events such as improv comedy.
- Beat Cafe, 33-13-3B,Udagawa-cho,Shibuya-ku (Take the Hachiko exit of Shibuya station, cross the famous crossing, walk down Center Gai (a narrow shopping street) and its near the end (An Outback Steakhouse restaurant may still exist there), on the left, on the third floor. Look for the sign that looks like an early 80′s two-tone album cover. No more than a 10-minute walk.), ☎ 09093344342, . Small cafe-bar-restaurant catering to the young alternative rock crowd. While showing constant videos from VH1 Classic on their TV, the easy drinking, simple eating crowd is about as friendly as they come. If you can't talk in your own native language, you can always discuss music. Cash only and drinks range from 500-1000 JPY.
- Excelsior Cafe, 1-20-12 Jinnan, Toyama Building 1st/2nd Floors (just in front of GAP, on Shibuya Koen Dori [Street]), ☎ +81 3-5728-7667. Great coffee and delicious sandwiches, with a nice warm smile.
- The Aldgate, Shiniwasaki Bldg 3F, Udagawacho 30-4, ☎ +81 03-3462-2983, . 6PM-2AM. Down to earth smoke-free British-style pub, with a large number of Japanese and international beers on tap and a large collection of British Rock music on vinyl.
- The Dubliners, 2F, 2-29-8 Dogenzaka, ☎ +81 03-5459-1736. An Irish pub popular among foreigners.
- Hobgoblin Shibuya, Ichiban Bldg 3F, 1-3-11, Dogenzaka, ☎ +81 03-6415-4244. 4PM to late (weekdays), noon to late (weekends and holidays), last order 10:45PM. Outlet of the famous British micro-brewer Wychwood Brewery.
- Craftheads, 1-13-10 Jinnan, B1, ☎ +81 03-6416-9474, . 5PM-midnight. Remarkable section of imported craft beers, and some domestic ones as well. Free WiFi. High ceilings, modern wood-and-concrete ambiance. Even pricier than the typical imported brew pub.
There are plenty of cheap and cheerful izakaya (Japanese pubs) scattered about Shibuya. The Watami and Outami chains offers good, but not too inspiring, watering holes.
- Bar Ishiohana (Bar石の華), Daini Yaki Bldg., B1, 3-6-2 (Back exit from Shibuya station, left hand side of Roppingi Dori), ☎ 81 03-5485-8405, . Open all days 6PM-2AM. Acclaimed high-end bar serving up drinks that are more works of art then cocktails.
- Hatago, 2-28-5 Dogenzaka (B1; along Dogenzaka street, about 200 m beyond the 109 Bldg). This is a stylish and somewhat upscale izakaya that accommodates foreign customers with a handwritten English menu. Try the baked miso eggplant, ¥650. Draft beer ¥630, table charge ¥250; expect to pay around ¥3000 per person for a reasonable meal including drinks.
- Happy Dining Ghetto, Center Building 3F, 25-5 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku. Serves izakaya-style fare: lots of fried food, including chiizuage (fried cheese), spicy French fries, edamame, pizza, and lots of foods with mayo! Asian fusion dinners served, but a bit on the pricy side (3000 yen). Bar with extensive drink selection. American hip-hop plays overhead while the music videos play on monitors scattered about. Lots of fun, but know that it caters to the young, club-hopping Shibuya crowd.
- Kaji Maru, 28-1 Udagawa-cho (on a cross street between Bunkamura-dori and Center-gai, 2F), ☎ +81 03-3463-1717. M-Th 6PM-3AM, F Sa 6PM-5AM, Su 6PM-midnight. Kaji Maru is an atmospheric and smallish Asian-fusion izakaya one floor above the hubbub of Shibuya. An English menu is available. Individual plates ¥580-700. Draft beer ¥500, table charge ¥300..
- Tengu, 25-3 Udagawa-cho (B1; in an alley between Center-gai and Inokashira-dori). 5PM-midnight. Tengu is a part of a popular izakaya chain, which stands out from the rest mainly because they have an English menu.
- The Lock Up, 33-1 Udagawa-cho (just off Center-gai, Shibuya Grand Tokyo Bldg B2F), ☎ +81 03-5728-7731. M-Th 5PM-1AM, F Sa 5PM-5AM, Su 5AM-midnight. Even if you have no plans to eat, check out the approach to this theme izakaya, a long hallway more like a haunted house than the entrance to a restaurant. Inside you'll find a dungeon theme eatery featuring test tube cocktails, food with brutal names, uniformed mini-skirt-staff, handcuffs and prison breaks. Tell the staff it's your birthday for an extra special surprise! Plates range ¥400-¥820, draft beer ¥500.
- Camelot, . Multi-room nightclub that plays a mix of hip-hop, r&b, and techno/house in their different areas. Most of the clientele is of a younger crowd (ages 20-25). Friday's entrance fee is only ¥1000 (incl. two drinks).a
- Club Air, B2 Hikawa Bldg, 2-11 Sarugaku, ☎ +81 03-6145-6231, . Made a brief appearance in the movie Lost in Translation.
- Club Atom, ☎ +81 03-5428-5195, . Owned by Vanilla, this club houses three dance floors with music ranging from psychedelic trance to hip-hop. Entrance fee is only ¥1000 before 12 o'clock.
- Club Asia, Dogenzaka, . Popular for trance music all night long.
- Harlem, 2-4 Tuburayama-cho, ☎ +81 03-3461-8806, . Large two-floor all hip-hop club. Foreigners may not be admitted unless they bring along a Japanese friend.
- Shibuya Nuts, . Considerably smaller than the above mentioned nightclubs, has a good reputation among the hip-hop crowd in Tokyo and features occasional live performances.
- Vuenos, (across the street from Club Asia), . Owned by the same folks as Club Asia, and dedicated rap and r&b club with occasional live dance and rap performances.
- Womb, Maruyama 2-16, ☎ 03-5459-0039, . One of Tokyo's largest clubs, designed by the people behind New York's Twilo and the setting of a scene in Babel. ¥3500 without drinks included. (35.658,139.695)
- Rock West. A smaller, friendly club that specialised in underground techno, fairly well hidden on 7F of an office building. It`s certainly one of the cheaper spots in the area. Cover charge of ¥1000 and most drinks around ¥500.
- Rock no Cocoro. Playing Indie, 'UK-Rock' and various themed nights including girl music and metal, this is characterized by the various touring rock bands that have passed through and signed the beer coasters that line the wall. No cover charge, and most drinks around ¥600.
- Amate-Raxi, . A Hip-Hop and R&B club split into two floors; a lounge bar and main dancefloor.
If Shibuya's clubs aren't enough, hop on a free shuttle bus to Ageha, Tokyo's largest nightclub. Buses depart from the crossing of Roppongi-dori and Meiji-dori, opposite Shibuya police station, on the east ("wrong") side of Shibuya station.
Accommodation options in Shibuya are surprisingly limited. The hillside to the left of Dogenzaka is also known as Love Hotel Hill and indeed contains dozens of love hotels, although they're on the expensive side: figure on at least ¥10,000 for an overnight "stay".
- Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, 26-1 Sakuragaoka-cho, ☎ +81 03-3476-3000, . A popular high-end hotel near the JR station. Also contains a large office complex, as well as some very expensive restaurants. ¥33,000.
- Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu, . A popular high-end hotel in the Mark City building.
- Tokyu Stay Shibuya, 8-14 Shinsen-cho, ☎ +81 03-3477-1091 (fax: +81 03-3477-1092), . Part of the Tokyu Stay chain, this hotel is popular with business travelers. Small kitchenettes, washer/dryers, and free LAN access in all rooms makes these a good value. Singles start at ¥9450, doubles at ¥17,850 per night. Slight discounts are offered for extended stays.
- Tokyu Stay Shibuya Shin-Minamiguchi, 3-26-21 Shibuya, ☎ +81 03-5466-0109 (fax: +81 03-5466-1091), . This is another outlet of the same chain.
- Ebisu, the next stop south on the JR Yamanote Line, is a quieter and more sophisticated version of the Shibuya scene.
- Shimokitazawa, just two stops down the Keio Inokashira line, offers trendy shops, restaurants and watering holes in a slightly less frenetic atmosphere.
- Kichijoji, at the other end of the Inokashira Line, has more of the same plus a park famed for its cherry blossoms.
|Routes through Tokyo/Shibuya
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