Shibuya is Tokyo’s youth mecca, never short of shopping complexes, bars, art, music and — luckily for us — things to do. You don’t need all the money in the world; a lot of what there is to see and do is on the streets. We’ve got all the highlights covered here — 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.

Pro tip: Make new friends and experience the local nightlife on a bar-hopping tour of Shibuya.

People watch at Shibuya Crossing

how to photograph shibuya crossing
Near Shibuya Station is where most people get their first glimpse of the Scramble | 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 and neon colors.

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Every few minutes at this massive, noisy intersection, the traffic lights turn red as swarms of pedestrians battle to get across the road. This is the iconic shot you see in all the movies and social media posts about Tokyo (see our how to photograph Shibuya Crossing guide). 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.

Cheapo hack: We’re not known to recommend Starbucks, but the branch at Shibuya Crossing merits a mention because a) it’s said to be the busiest in the world, and b) it provides a good viewpoint over the intersection.

Say hi to Hachikō

Hachiko at night
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.

Hachikō, Shibuya Station’s mascot — look for the paw prints leading to the dedicated exit — 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; or the girl holding a fruit in Dōgenzaka.

Spend the day with art

Diesel Art Gallery 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. Museum/theater/cinema complex Bunkamura (west of the station) also offers free access to its Gallery (other exhibition spaces here have entry fees). By Shibuya River, Inari Bridge Square has many outdoor exhibitions to see as you walk on by.

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 decorating walls. While some might call this vandalism, we think it’s a pretty cool scene.

Reach new heights

Yoyogi Park from Shibuya Sky | Photo by Gregory Lane

In recent years, many skyscrapers have risen up in Shibuya. So far up that they have created unmissable, 360-degree views of Tokyo. At the tippity-top of the list is Shibuya Sky, which is on the 47th floor of Shibuya Scramble Square. Up here there are views of Shibuya Crossing and all the way to Mt Fuji. This experience does, however, cost ¥1,800; purchase tickets online in advance here (we 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.; unfortunately you have to have dinner or drinks to stay longer than that. And to get a snap of the famous intersection, you’ll have to ask a staff member for special access.

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Mag’s Park (one-drink minimum ¥500) and Parco (free) also boast beautiful open rooftops. The 11th-floor Sky Lobby in Shibuya Hikarie has no charge, but the panorama is a little far from the action.

Hunt for records

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.

Shop ‘til you drop

Shibuya Shopping at 109
Photo by Lucy Dayman

When in Shibuya, do as the locals do and shop, shop, shop. Well, as Cheapos, we try not to indulge, but sometimes we do need to get a new pair of house slippers from Mega Don Quijote (which, by the way, is excellent for souvenirs). Also good for souvenir hunting: emporiums of miscellanea Tokyu Hands and Loft, which sell all kinds of stationary goods, fun kitchen gadgets, and beauty supplies.

Probably the most famous shopping destination in all of Shibuya, however, is Shibuya 109. For decades, Tokyo teens (and their suburban counterparts) have flocked to this beacon of trendy, fast fashion. Department store Parco, which recently reopened after a lengthy renovation, 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, 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.

Go for sushi

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 a 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 more 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.

Have a beer down a boozy back alley

Drunkard's Alley
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).

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.

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.

Bonus: 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.

Have your own favorite haunts in the hood? Tell us about other things to do in Shibuya in the comments! If you’re not done yet, why not combine your Shibuya explorations with our DIY walking tour from Shibuya to Harajuku? Harajuku’s nearby, so you might be interested in our Things to do in Harajuku article, too.

This post was last updated by Alexandra Ziminski in July 2022.

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