Translated by Greg
Shibuya Guide: Enjoy Tokyo's Youth-Oriented District To The Fullest!
Written by Jumpei Kawashima
Tokyo's Shibuya is a town that sends out its vibrant youth culture to the world. Use this area guide for information and tips on transportation access and our recommended spots.
What Kind Of Neighborhood Is Shibuya?
Shibuya is one of Tokyo's main downtown areas located near Shinjuku and Harajuku. During the Showa period it underwent extensive redevelopment and experienced tremendous growth and rapid progress.
Shibuya is known as a town for young people and their ever-present youthful power is constantly producing new ideas and culture. This is one of Tokyo's most appealing areas, where the latest trends are born regardless of the era.
How Does One Get to Shibuya?
Shibuya is one of Tokyo's main transportation hubs and numerous train and subway lines converge here. For example, the JR Yamanote, Saikyo, and Shonan Shinjuku lines connect here. The Tokyu Toyoko and Den-en-toshi lines, Tokyo Metro's Ginza, Hanzomon, and Fukutoshin subway lines, and the Inokashira line also all intersect at this busy focal point.
Due to the number of lines and railways here, the following passes and tickets are convenient and will save yen on travel in and around Shibuya and the rest of Tokyo: Tokyo Subway Ticket (24, 48, and 72-hour passes available), Japan Rail Pass, Suica IC Card Reservation
Ride the Yamanote Line to Shibuya from Major Tokyo Areas
The Yamanote line makes a complete loop within the Tokyo area. By using this line you can get to Shibuya directly from some of the main tourist areas such as Ueno, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Harajuku and the Tokyo station area, without making any transfers.
For example, from Tokyo station a ticket costs 198 yen and takes 25 minutes, and from Shinjuku station it costs 154 yen and takes only 7 minutes.
From Asakusa and Ginza, Use the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson on Flickr
Just hop aboard the Tokyo Metro Ginza line and get direct access to Shibuya station from the sightseeing spots in Asakusa and Ginza. Asakusa to Shibuya station costs 237 yen and takes 32 minutes, and from Ginza it costs 195 yen and takes 15 minutes.
From Yokohama Use the Shōnan Shinjuku or Tōyoko Line
Shonan Shinjuku Line
Photo by Cheng-en Cheng on Flickr
Photo by takeshisz on Flickr
If coming from Yokohama, one of Kanagawa prefecture's major cities, we recommend taking the Shonan Shinjuku line or Toyoko line. Yokohama to Shibuya will cost 388 yen and take 25 minutes when using the Shonan Shinjuku line while the Toyoko line's express train costs 267 yen and takes 30 minutes.
Shibuya's 9 Recommended Spots
Shibuya is the birthplace of much of Japan's youth culture! This article will introduce you to nine noteworthy sightseeing spots.
1. Shibuya's Symbol! One of the World's Largest Intersections
Located just outside JR Shibuya station, the Scramble Crossing (Shibuya intersection) is extremely popular with visitors to Japan. A reported 3000 people pass through this intersection at any one given time, so not surprisingly it's known as one of the biggest and busiest intersections of its kind in the world.
Tsutaya cafe, found just across the station is a popular gathering place for young people and also a great spot to view the amazing scramble crossing.
If you’d like more information on taking photos of this exciting crossing, please refer to one of MATCHA's other articles, Top 4 Viewing Spots for Shibuya's Scramble Crossing.
2. Shibuya Center Gai - A Shopping Street for Japanese Youth
Shibuya Center Gai is a shopping street that starts from the Scramble intersection and extends for 300 metres. Both sides of the street are lined with buildings containing numerous shops. The area is known for attracting young people to its karaoke boxes, eating and drinking establishments, clothing shops and other youth-oriented businesses.
Let's mingle with some of the young people and experience the local culture first-hand.
3. Shibuya Hikarie - Experience Shibuya for Grownups
Shibuya Hikarie is a commercial-retail building that you can get to directly after getting off one of Tokyo Metro's subway lines. It's a multi-purpose complex containing many shops such as name-brand fashion outlets, novelty goods stores and even a theater.
The various products inside the stores attract not only young people but adults as well. If you're in search of a good quality Japanese souvenir then this is the place to visit.
4. Tokyu Hands (Shibuya) - Hobby and Pastime-Related Goods
Based in Tokyo, Tokyu Hands Shibuya is an expanding retail chain that specializes in hobby and leisure-related products. There are novelty goods, cosmetic products, tools for arts and crafts, party supplies and so on sold here.
There are also products that allow you to feel their Japanese-ness, such as tenugui, or Japanese-style hand towels, and various kinds of stationery goods.
5. Shibuya 109 - The Origin of Youth Culture and Fashion
Shibuya 109 is the building at the heart of Shibuya's youth-oriented fashion scene, and the shops inside are designed with young women in mind.
The people working here are often called "charisma staff" because of their extensive knowledge of fashion, and the fact that they can recommend the most recent trend-setting clothes for you. It's popular among young people because it has a reputation for coming up with the latest fashion styles.
6. Bunkamura - A Showcase for Shibuya Culture
Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson on Flickr
Bunkamura is Japan's first large-scale, multi-purpose cultural facility. Shops and facilities are clustered here in one central location. In addition to a concert hall, theater, art gallery and movie theater, there is also a cafe and art shop.
Shibuya is also famous for being a center for art. At Bunkamura, why not spend some time getting acquainted with Tokyo's art and culture?
7. Cosmo Planetarium Shibuya - An Oasis in the Big City
Cosmo Planetarium Shibuya is a facility located on the 12th floor of Shibuya Cultural Center Ōwada.
It's popular for being a spot in the big city where you can catch a glimpse of the stars. While relaxing and gazing up at the night sky, you might soon forget that you're still in Shibuya. So be sure to drop in and enjoy the night panorama spreading out before your own eyes.
8. Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya - Tokyo's Base For Art And Culture
Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya is an art center generating Tokyo's latest culture.
With an aim to support and train young artists, exhibitions that invite participants from the public are often held. Inside, the center's characteristic feature is a simple yet sophisticated feeling created by using white as its basic color scheme. After perusing the works of art, there's also an adjoining cafe where you can take a break. Admission is free, so stop by anytime and get a close-up look at some modern art.
9. Hachikō's Statue - Japan's Most Famous Meeting Spot?
Directly outside JR Shibuya station in an open square stands a bronze statue of a dog. Erected in 1934, this statue pays tribute to Hachi, a faithful dog who patiently waited every day at Shibuya station for its owner who had passed away.
Today, Hachiko's statue and the surrounding square is often used as a meeting place by people visiting Shibuya.
Shibuya is a town where you can experience Japan's ever-present youth culture and the latest trends, so please take our advice and visit Shibuya's nine sightseeing spots!