Shibuya is Tokyo’s youth mecca, never short of shopping complexes, bars, art, music and — luckily for us — things to do.

We’ve got all the highlights covered — where to score the best views and souvenirs, how to beat (or join!) the crowds, and recommendations for digging into Shibuya’s famous nightlife and music scene.

Note: You don’t need a lot of money to explore Shibuya; a lot of things to see and do are on the streets.

Suggested Activity
Get the Best View of Tokyo From Shibuya Sky
The Shibuya Sky observatory is one of the most popular in all of Tokyo, giving you a 360-degree, unobstructed view of the city -- and beyond. Advance booking is recommended — buy your tickets now.

Pro tip: Make new friends and experience the local nightlife on a bar-hopping tour of Shibuya. Or if you want to try some uber-cool Japanese whiskey bars, try a members-only whiskey bar tour.

1. People watch at Shibuya Crossing

how to photograph shibuya crossing
Get your first glimpse of the Scramble near Shibuya Station. | Photo by David Ishikawa

We can’t talk about Shibuya without mentioning the mega-famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing, so let’s start this list off with a bang of neon colors.

Every few minutes at this massive, noisy intersection, traffic lights turn red and swarms of pedestrians battle to cross the road. This is the iconic shot you see in the movies and social-media posts about Tokyo. When you’re not gawping at all the folks weaving and dodging, you can watch the giant Times Square-style digital billboards playing ads and the latest J-pop sensations’ music videos.

Don’t feel like battling the crowds? Get a birds-eye view of the crossing from Mag’s Park Rooftop (¥1,500 incl. one-drink), at a restaurant or cafe around the intersection, or from one of the skyscrapers in the area. See our how to photograph Shibuya Crossing guide for more tips.

2. Say “hi” to the iconic Hachikō statue

Hachiko at night
Faithfully still waiting. | Photo by iStock.com/Mantas Volungevicius

It’s practically required that you snap a pic of loyal dog Hachikō at least once when you visit Shibuya, or perhaps offer him a Puppuccino.

Follow the paw prints at Shibuya Station and you’ll find Hachikō, Shibuya Station’s mascot. Hachikō is the dog that waited faithfully at the station every day for his guardian, a professor, to come home from work. After the professor died, Hachikō continued to wait in the same spot every day until his own death. Today, the statue is probably the most popular meeting spot in Japan (good luck finding your date in a sea of people trying to do the same).

Other cool sculptures in the area include the Moyai Head on the south side of the station (bonus: this is a favorite spot for buskers), the naked children playing on an iron globe near the west exit, and the girl holding fruit in Dōgenzaka.

Pro tip: Speaking of cute animals, also keep your eyes out for Shibuya’s adorable 3D Akita Inu and 3D panda billboards.

3. Spend the day with art at a gallery

A look at the Diesel Art Gallery in Shibuya. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Want to see contemporary art without paying steep entry fees? Check out one of the free art spots around Shibuya Station. On the north side, Diesel Art Gallery charges nothing to see exhibits of talented domestic and international artists. By Shibuya River, Inari Bridge Square has many outdoor exhibitions to see as you walk on by.

Suggested Activity
Official Street Go-Kart in Shibuya
Dress up in costume and drive through the famous Shibuya Crossing, Harajuku and Omotesando. You'll get a whole new view of the city. This is one of the most popular activities in Tokyo!

Meanwhile, the eighth floor of shopping complex Shibuya Hikarie (appropriately called 8/) has several gallery and event spaces for contemporary Japanese art. Also visit Gallery X by Parco to see interesting works by fun pop artists; the entry fee depends on the exhibition but is usually ¥500.

Pro tip: On the less shiny side streets of Shibuya, you can find plenty of unusual and creative stickers plastered on lampposts, as well as graffiti-decorated walls. While some might call this vandalism, we think it’s a pretty cool scene.

4. Reach new heights at Shibuya Sky (and other buildings)

The sunset at Shibuya Sky is one of the best. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

In recent years, many skyscrapers have risen up in Shibuya. So high that they have created unmissable, 360-degree views of Tokyo. At the tippy-top of the list is Shibuya Sky, which is on the 47th floor of Shibuya Scramble Square. It has great views of Shibuya Crossing and Mt. Fuji. This experience costs ¥1,800; book tickets online in advance, but we genuinely think it’s worth it.

There are also some cheaper views closer to earth. Shibu Niwa rooftop terrace on the 17th floor of Tokyu Plaza has an amazing night view of Shibuya. It’s free to access between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.; you’ll need to have dinner or drinks to stay longer than that, though. And to get a snap of the famous intersection, you’ll have to ask a staff member for special access.

Shibuya Parco (free) boasts a beautiful open rooftop and the 11th-floor Sky Lobby in Shibuya Hikarie also has no charge, but the panorama is a little far from the action.

5. Hunt for music

things to do in Shibuya
Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

Tokyo’s music scene is explosive, and much of that spark is found in Shibuya. There’s an underground scene here that sees alternative bands playing backstreet shows. Crate diggers can also find plenty of records (new and old ) — be sure to check out our top recommendations.

You could also give Tower Records a visit. The store is still going strong in Japan, and offers a line-up of free mini-live shows almost every day of the week. These could be acoustic strumming, classical piano concertos, or full-on stage shows with strobe lights in the basement.

6. Shop ‘til you drop

There are a lot of cool styles to find in Shibuya. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

When in Shibuya, do as the locals do and shop, shop, shop. Places like Mega Don Quijote (which, by the way, is excellent for souvenirs) are just too hard to resist. Also good for souvenir hunting are the emporiums of miscellanea Tokyu Hands and Loft. They sell all kinds of stationery, fun kitchen gadgets, and beauty supplies.

The most famous shopping destination in all of Shibuya is Shibuya 109. For decades, Tokyo teens (and their suburban counterparts) have flocked to this beacon of trendy, fast fashion.

Department store Shibuya Parco is another local fashion landmark. The brands here skew a bit more high fashion — which makes it a great place to check out the latest looks — but there’s also a Nintendo boutique (something for everyone, right?).

Then there are the malls, like Shibuya Scramble Square, the aforementioned Tokyu Plaza, and Hikarie. These are part of Shibuya’s redevelopment and have neat design and architecture. Shibuya Modi’s overgrown entrance and the local Disney Store are also unique sights.

7. Go for sushi

Watch it speed on by. | Photo by Aimee Gardner

Shibuya has become a destination for delicious, and (important to us) reasonably priced sushi. If you are looking for a true in-and-out Japanese experience, then try Standing Sushi Uogashi Nihonichi.

Tired legs and prefer to sit? There are some excellent kaiten-zushi — sushi counters where plates of sushi come round on conveyor belts — here, too. Katsu Midori is quite literally considered one of the best in the city, though there is usually a queue. Tenkazushi, in Dōgenzaka, meanwhile, is known to be a fantastic bargain.

Here’s some more budget sushi inspiration (including Shibuya suggestions, and some further afield). Sushi not your thing? Have some cash (but not much)? Then here are a handful of affordable Shibuya lunch spots with sets under ¥1,000.

8. Climb a wall at Miyashita Park

Lounge in a rooftop park in Shibuya. | Photo by Alexandra Ziminski

Miyashita Park is much more than just a shopping complex. On its roof, you’ll find a bouldering wall, a skate park, and a sand court (used for sports such as beach volleyball and soccer). There’s also plenty of space to hang out (and many do) late into the evening. Catch seasonal events, such as winter illuminations, or a party or two in event space Or.

At the base of the building, you’ll also find a sprawling yokocho, more on that below.

9. Have a beer down a boozy back alley

Drunkard's Alley
A sneak peek at Nonbei Yokocho AKA Drunkard’s Alley. | Photo by iStock.com/FiledIMAGE

When sunset hits and lanterns start flickering on, it’s time to head to Shibuya’s signature retro drinking strip: Nonbei Yokochō. This yokochō — the word for side streets filled with tiny bars and restaurants — has been around for more than 70 years, and its vintage Shōwa-era style is a big part of the appeal. Incidentally, “nonbei” means “drinker” in Japanese, which gives you an idea as to the clientele and atmosphere.

A lot of people compare Nonbei to Golden Gai in Shinjuku, but we’ll let you be the judge. Like Golden Gai, there are some cheap-ish places to eat and drink here and some not-so-cheap places (though it can be a little hard to tell from the outside).

Miyashita Park also has a yokochō. Spilling out onto the street, these restaurants aren’t considered the best of Shibuya’s food scene, but they are a chill spot to have a drink in the open-air and take in the ambience of Shibuya. Add to the list Shibuya Parco’s basement floor, which is filled with interesting izakaya (including vegan and insect options).

10. Dance the night away

Nightclub with Tokyo nightlife partygoers
Photo by iStock.com/Mlenny

The two top club spots in Tokyo are Roppongi and — you guessed it — Shibuya. Once the shops pack up, hordes of young people flock to the Dōgenzaka area to release their inhibitions and let loose. There are plenty of pre-club all-you-can-drink deals to be had in the surrounding vicinity, so you can be well-lubricated (and save on those pricey drinks) before going inside.

Some clubs offer discounted admission if you arrive by, say 11 p.m. We recommend Harlem for hip-hop and R&B lovers; if EDM is more your thing, check out Club Camelot.

You may also enjoy a night of karaoke at one of Shibuya’s endless establishments, like this one from Lost in Translation.

11. Explore Love Hotel Hill

Shibuya love hotel hill
Photo by iStock.com/font83

If you’re interested in wacky architecture or just some titillation, take a walk around the famed Love Hotel Hill in Shibuya’s Dōgenzaka area. Comparison shop; dodge the guys trying to attract customers looking for cheap sex, peep shows, and “soap lands” (aka sexy massage parlors); and marvel at the cool, retro coffee shops and bars that are stuck in between. One thing though: if you’re actually looking to partake of a room, give our guide to love hotels a read first. Not all are made equal.

Honourable mentions

Join a ramen tasting tour

There’s no doubt that ramen is one of the most popular Japanese foods, but with so many different kinds out there it can be hard to choose what to try. But if you join this ramen tasting tour, you won’t have to. You can try mini bowls of six different kinds of ramen while exploring Tokyo with an expert, local guide.

Dress up as your favorite superhero and zoom around in a go-kart

Go-karting around Tokyo is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist activities (and one of the least popular with the locals!). It makes for a fun and memorable group activity — dress up and have your photo taken cruising across Shibuya crossing, driving around Harajuku and beyond.

Whilst there’s several go-karting providers across the city, this highly-rated go kart provider in Shinjuku covers a route through Shibuya. NB: You need an international driving permit, or driving license suitable for Japan.

Make memories on a bar-hopping tour

Get the real Shibuya nightlife experience by following a local guide’s expertise. Hop on a tour and find underground bars and izakaya you’d never have found yourself.

We’ve reviewed a Shibuya bar hopping and izakaya experience to give you an insight on what to expect — spoilers: lots and lots of alcohol.

Dress up for Halloween

If you happen to be in town near the end of October then you’ve got to stick around for Halloween in Shibuya — it’s a whole other level of crazy. As of 2023, note that the infamous street celebrations have been effectively banned, but if still you want to dress to impress, check out some of the other many Halloween events in the area.

If you’re not done yet, why not combine your Shibuya explorations with our DIY walking tour from Shibuya to Harajuku? It’s nearby, so you might be interested in our Things to do in Harajuku guide, too.

This post first published in 2014. Last updated in November 2023, by Alex Ziminski.

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