Best Neighbourhoods In Tokyo: Shibuya

 

Travellers searching for quintessential Japanese cuisine and shopping delights will revel in Tokyo’s west and we’re certain you will not be left wanting for things to do in Shibuya City.

This borough is where you’ll slurp some of the best ramen in Tokyo, knock back some sake and join the organised chaos of the pedestrian scramble at Shibuya crossing. 

Shibuya Tokyo is where you can thumb through racks of vintage clothing and rub shoulders with Harajuku girls but if you need to momentarily catch your breath, head upwards above it all whilst standing atop Shibuya Sky. Our Shibuya neighbourhood guide provides a perfect introduction to Tokyo. Read on to discover where to eat, where to shop and what to do in Shibuya.

A couple pose at the edge of Shibuya Sky Observation Deck at sunset | Shibuya what to do

A Quick guide to shibuya tokyo

WHAT TO DO IN SHIBUYA

Start your morning with a walk through Yoyogi Park. This large park is a quiet refuge from the urban jungle. From Yoyogi Park, enter Meiji Jingu via the Torii Gate, the entrance closest to Harajuku Station, before making your way past the Sake Barrels and onwards to Meiji Shrine.

A visit to Shibuya City neighbourhood would be incomplete without swinging by Shibuya Crossing. To see the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing in all its glory, we suggest visiting at dusk where you will catch Tokyoites on their way home from work or on their way to dinner. Watching the neon lights from the surrounding buildings illuminate the sky and the scramble is sure to send shivers down your spine.

For a birds eye view of the metropolis, catch the elevator up to Shibuya Sky. Once you reach level 46, you’ll find yourself standing at the highest point in Shibuya City. The rooftop observation deck provides 360 degree views of greater Tokyo. If you squint, you may catch sight of Shibuya Scramble Square.

THE BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANTS IN SHIBUYA

Searching for Japanese cuisine in Shibuya is not difficult if you know where to go.

For a refined dining experience, slide the door open to one Michelin-starred restaurant Tamawarai. Their buckwheat soba noodles are harvested by hand and is clearly a labour of love in this unassuming establishment. Choose between hot or cold soba noodles and start your meal with an entree of baked miso or tofu.

Dumpling fans need to pick up their chopsticks in readiness at Anda Gyoza or Nihao. If you prefer to get your dumpling fix with a side of ramen, head to Oreryu Shio-Ramen. Here, an authentic food ordering experience awaits you where you will place your order at the vending machine outside the restaurant – there are pictures and English translations to help you. If you’re lucky, you’ll score a seat at a bench in front of the kitchen where you can watch the chefs in full flight!

For the best ramen in Shibuya, you’ll need to stop at Ramen Hayashi. But if you struggle to nab a seat here, you can try your luck across Yoyogi park where you’ll find Tsuta. This popular joint is easy to find by the queues that line the sidewalk. Other renowned restaurants are Kiraku and Koku which offer ramen options close to Shibuya Station, otherwise escape to the outskirts of the neighbourhood to dine at Ramen Ichifuku.

After some novelty? Kawaii Monster Cafe creations will have your head in a spin and you won’t know if you’ve become a character in an anime story or a Japanese cartoon. Angel Crepes, Totti Candy Factory and Santa Monica Crepes along Harajuku’s Takeshita Street offer hundreds of ice cream and crepe combinations. For simple sweet-tooth options with a neon-lit backdrop, Melting in the Mouth is the top choice with their original ice-cream cone and sugared donuts.

Sweet treats. Crepes from Angel Crepes in Harajuku, Shibuya Tokyo

THE BEST BARS IN SHIBUYA

A visit to a Japanese-style bar is not for the claustrophobic. For the ultimate, “rubbing shoulders” experience, head to Nonbei Yokocho and cram yourself inside one of the bars that line the alley. Near Yoyogi-Uehara Station, you’ll discover a collection of izakaya with set menus starting from ¥4,000. At Sasagin or Nakatogawa, mix sashimi with sake or try Kigaruniwashoku Dan for delicately prepared small plates.

Only want to sample some sake? The best choice is Sakestand Shibuya where you can choose your own sake or select a tasting set. It’s standing room only in this bar although depending on how long you stay will dictate if you’re still standing by the time you leave!

Beer lovers will rejoice at Goodbeer Faucets where there are more than forty beers available on tap. For old school vibes, descend into the basement of Grandfather’s where they’ll be serving a variety of drinks and playing a mix of 70s rock, pop and soul music.

If your palate has you searching for whiskey, plan a visit to Mi Casita where the intimate setting is perfect for enjoying a tumbler of the amber goodness.

THE BEST CAFES IN SHIBUYA

Searching for coffee in Shibuya won’t be a problem as some of Tokyo’s best specialty coffee cafes are in the neighbourhood. Start your morning at Fuglen Tokyo. The retro decor and jazz music will have you sashaying down the street. If you’re looking for a place with a true neighbourhood feel, Little Nap Coffee Stand is a cute spot which had us feeling right at home.

Streamer Coffee Company (with six stores across Tokyo) provides a reliable option whilst exploring Tokyo with cafes in Shibuya and Harajuku. And if you want to take a break from shopping, duck into The Roastery by Nozy Coffee to try one of their filter coffees.

For die-hard coffee fans, you won’t mind the standing room only at Koffee Mameya as this spot should definitely not be missed. Lattest and Bread, Espresso & are also in close proximity.

A couple pose in front of the sake barrels at Meiji Jinku, next to Yoyogi Park | Shibuya what to see

BEST SHOPPING IN SHIBUYA

From mega shopping malls to kitsch boutiques and everything in between, Shibuya alongside Shinjuku are the best neighbourhoods for shopping in Tokyo. 

Start your shopping experience at Shibuya109, a mecca for teenage girls looking to inspire the next fashion trends. Continue on to Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku where you’ll need to find your best angle at the top of the escalators for your Instagram feed. 

Pick up a souvenir t-shirt from Graniph Harajuku. Created for men, women and kids, you’ll find designs featuring cute animal prints, city maps and pop culture references.

Vintage boutiques are also quite popular throughout Shibuya’s shopping streets. Head to Nude Trump to see what bargains you can find on their racks or Ragtag in Harajuku for some of Tokyo’s best second hand designer clothes.

WHERE TO STAY IN SHIBUYA

Staying in Shibuya offers the best of Tokyo right on your doorstep. 

Tokyo isn’t the cheapest city to travel through for a backpacker so staying in a hostel is how you can save a few dollars. Japanese hostels are up there with some of the cleanest in the world (in our humble opinion) and always with first-class service. Take the Turn Table Hostel and Restaurant or neighbouring Wise Owl Hostels Shibuya for example. Dorms here can cost as little as ¥3,780 per night. Those wanting to stay closer to Shibuya Crossing should consider a room at the affordable Mustard Hotel or Buena Àrte Hostel.

If you literally just need a place to lay your weary body, stay at The Millennials Shibuya inside a capsule. Should this be too cosy, upgrade your pod to include a projector or stay on their art floor.

For those past their hostel days, choose a room at Trunk Hotel, a member of Design Hotels providing an ideal mix of tradition and trend. Another design alternative is Hotel Koe, a place that infuses fashion and music elements within the hotel to generate an experience that combines Japan with ‘the World’.

And of course, there is always Airbnb for those travellers who prefer their private space – remember that these rooms or homestays will likely be quite snug.

SAVE OUR SHIBUYA MAP

PLANNING YOUR VISIT

How far is Shibuya from Narita Airport?

Train from Narita Airport to Shibuya

To get from Narita Airport to Shibuya, you will need to catch at least two trains. The journey is at least 1.5 hours (90 minutes).

Option 1: Narita Express Train ~¥3,450

Option 2: Skyliner > JY Yamanote Line ~¥2,720

Option 3: Skyliner > Tokyo Metro Ginza Line ~¥2,720

Option 4: Keisei Line > Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line ~¥1,240

Bus from Narita Airport to Shibuya

The journey is at least 1 hour 45 mins and will cost ~¥2,700 – ¥3,400 

Drive from Narita Airport to Shibuya

The journey is at least 1 hour depending on traffic and is certainly not the cheapest option! Depending on how you arrange your transport will affect the price. Expect the cost to begin at ¥22,000.

How to see Shibuya Crossing from above?

The ticket office of Shibuya Sky is located on the 14th floor and offers a decent view of the famous crossing. But if you want a closer look, the best bird’s eye view of Shibuya crossing is from a window seat of the second floor of Tsutaya Starbucks.

Tell us your recommendations of what to do in Shibuya Tokyo!

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