12 Things to Do in Shibuya, Tokyo for First-Time Visitors

12 Coolest Things to Do in Shibuya, Tokyo for First-Timers

There’s more to this trendy district than Shibuya Crossing.

Youthful energy sizzles through the streets of Shibuya, which just might be the trendiest ward in Tokyo. Known for being the centre of Japan‘s fashion and culture scene, it is the place where tradition and new ideas converge, leading visitors through a hypnotic mix of old and contemporary Japan. Under the blazing neon signs, one gets the urge to stay up a little longer and wander the moody alleys past dawn. No matter where you go, there are plenty of views along the way and no shortage of things to do in Shibuya! These are what we recommend on your first visit.

Also read: 10 Affordable Airbnbs in Tokyo for Budget Travellers

Best things to do in Shibuya, Tokyo

1. Sip a soothing cuppa at Aoyama Flower Market Tea House

Image credit: City Foodsters

Shibuya is a haven for coffee and tea lovers. Nearly every block in this district is filled with hip roasters and tea rooms. Take the Aoyama Flower Market Tea House, for example. This lush cafe inside a greenhouse serves delicate cups of tea. Admire the beauty of its freshly picked blooms and treat your palate with its seasonal menu featuring vegan and vegetarian dishes. Adorned with colourful flowers at every corner, it also stands out as one of the most Instagrammable spots in Tokyo

2. Snag unique fashion items along Cat Street

Image credit: Rs1421

One of the best places to go cafe hopping is Cat Street, the quieter sister of Takeshita Street in Harajuku (more on that later) and an underrated spot where you can witness Japanese hipster culture. Expect to see colourful fashion boutiques, novelty shops, cafes, and street vendors. Visually striking at first glance, it also offers an inviting yet relaxed atmosphere for your retail therapy (or simply window shopping). 

Image credit: Rs1421

While this hip and trendy pedestrianised alley crosses the popular Omotesando Avenue, the two are nothing alike. It may be an increasingly popular Shibuya tourist spot for fashion lovers and artsy people, but it allows pedestrians to steer clear of large crowds. Plus, its somewhat concealed location makes for a hidden gem worth discovering in Tokyo!

Also read: 10 Tips for Shopping in Tokyo, According to Locals and Frequent Travellers

3. Take in the vibrant atmosphere of Shibuya Crossing

Image credit: Benh LIEU SONG

You simply cannot think of Tokyo without conjuring an image of Shibuya Crossing. Five major crosswalks turning red or green at once, scattering a sea of pedestrians. Watch as thousands of people glide effortlessly past each other to reach the street opposite them, all without bumping into each other. Come evening, the blur of television screens and advertisements is even more alluring. Among the things to do in Shibuya at night, exploring its neon-lit streets is one you shouldn’t miss!

4. Visit the Hachiko Memorial Statue

Image credit: David Off

Say hello to good boy Hachiko, whose loyalty to his owner continues to touch hearts around the world. As the story goes, the Akita would follow his companion, Professor Ueno, to Shibuya Station every day before working hours; and every afternoon, Hachiko would meet him on the platform for their journey home. But one day, Professor Ueno suffered a hemorrhage and Hachiko headed back alone.

For the remaining nine years of his life, Hachiko would return to Shibuya Station and wait for his best friend. Even after his owner was buried, he never stopped waiting. Today, a bronze shrine of the dog sits patiently near the Shibuya Crossing. Visiting the Hachiko Memorial Statue definitely ranks as one of the essential things to do in Shibuya. 

Also read: Hachiko and Professor Ueno Finally Reunited at This Spot in Tokyo University

5. Sift through the music collections at Tower Records

things to do in shibuya

Image credit (L-R): Rob Young; Pharaoh_EZYPT

Few countries in the world boast a record store as huge, or as beloved, as the nine-storey Tower Records branch in Shibuya, Japan. This music retail chain is 5,000 sqm and has one mantra: “No Music, No Life.” 

Here’s what’s interesting about it! Even in the age of streaming and digital music sales, Japanese listeners still enjoy the experience of playing physical CDs. While the Tower Records in California declared bankruptcy and closed shop in the early 2000s, this music store franchise in Japan is alive and kicking — complete with its own bookstore and café. 

6. Admire the sakura at Yoyogi Park

things to do in shibuya: visit yoyogi park

Image credit: mrhayata

The Japanese have marvelled at the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms for centuries. In Yoyogi Park, the practice of hanami is one of the most popular things to do in Shibuya, Tokyo. The forest park has more than 700 sakura trees and offers plenty of green spots for picnics. 

But just as Ueno Park contains a zoo and several museums, Yoyogi Park is more than a meeting place for fragrant pink flowers. At the premises, you are also likely to glimpse cosplayers, street performers, rockers in leather, and the fashionable youth of Tokyo. In short, The Humans of Yoyogi Park.

Also read: Tokyo Sakura Season Guide: Everything You Need to Know for Your Trip

7. Write down your wishes at Meiji Shrine

things to do in shibuya: visit meiji shrine

Image credit (L-R): cotaro70s; kota

Completed in 1920, Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine built in honour of the late Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken. It is nestled in Yoyogi Park, where visitors must pass through the torii gates before reaching the main hall. Following tradition, you can purchase small wooden plaques called ema. Write a wish down on the ema and hang it under one of the trees, as the locals have been doing for decades. Ask anyone who has travelled to Tokyo, and they’ll likely say it’s one of the most unmissable sacred places to visit in Shibuya. 

Also read: 10 Must-See Temples and Shrines in Japan

8. Take a stroll through Takeshita Street in Harajuku

things to do in shibuya: visit harajuku

Image credit: Dick Thomas Johnson

For the best of street fashion in Japan, there’s always Takeshita Street. Trendy boutiques flank the pedestrian-only path, which rolls out like a runway featuring the latest trends in Japanese street style. It’s in the Harajuku area that the locals can get truly creative. 

Brave the crowds for some much-needed retail therapy, or wait until a weekday with less foot traffic. Then again, it’s much like the Shibuya Crossing. In Harajuku, the crowds are attractions unto themselves. And it’s hard to imagine the place without them.

Image credit: Dick Thomas Johnson

Aside from scoring great bargains at Daiso and 390 Mart, snacking on sweet crepes is also a popular thing to do in this part of Shibuya. Make a beeline for delicious mainstays like Santa Monica Crepes and Marion Crepes. Alternatively, feel free to peek at more outlandish concepts like Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku with a Hello Kitty-inspired menu. Needless to say, Harajuku is a rainbow cocktail of stimuli at every turn. 

9. Wander through the lantern-lit street of Nonbei Yokocho

things to do in shibuya: explore nonbei yokocho

Image credit (L-R): Denys Nevozhai; Andy Yeo

Leave the crowds for a trip down memory lane. Hidden in plain sight is Nonbei Yokocho (“Drunkards’ Alley”), a traditional alleyway where Japanese locals gather after work hours to enjoy yakitori and sake in kiosk-style bars. Some izakaya pubs down this lantern-filled street have stood here since the 1950s. 

From evening to the wee hours of the morning, you’ll rub shoulders with important-looking salarymen and business people. No spot is free from the smoke and aroma of grilled meat wafting in the air. 

Also read: Tokyo Nightlife Guide: 12 Best Bars & Clubs to Enjoy the Local Scene

10. Admire panoramic views of Tokyo at Shibuya Sky

Located atop the bustling Shibuya Scramble Square, Shibuya Sky lets you in on spectacular 360° views of the Tokyo skyline. Its sky-high observation deck sits 230 metres above ground and offers a unique perspective of iconic attractions like the famous Shibuya Crossing and even glimpses of Mount Fuji. After your fill of sightseeing and photo sessions, enjoy some snacks and a drink or two at the outdoor bar and lounge, The Roof

Note: The Roof is only open for a limited time from 28 Apr 2023 to 30 Nov 2023. To get the latest updates before your visit, click here

11. Visit Design Festa Gallery for a dose of artistic inspiration

This happening art gallery stands as the permanent outpost of the biannual design festival Design Festa, one of the largest art events in Tokyo. Much like the festival itself, Design Festa Gallery in Harajuku provides an innovative and vibrant space for emerging artists, with about 71 exhibition rooms. Most importantly, it offers artists an opportunity to sell their artworks free from commission or consignment fees! 

After exploring its exhibition spaces, head over to its in-house cafe and bar. Its chill, lowkey atmosphere makes for the perfect spot to enjoy craft beers, bar chows, and candid conversations. Not to mention, the art on the walls here offers creative backdrops for your selfies.

Also read: 12 Best Tokyo Museums for Every Kind of Art Fan

12. Explore Shibuya PARCO for a taste of Japanese pop culture

Just a three-minute walk from Shibuya Crossing, you’ll stumble upon the newly renovated Shibuya PARCO. A long-standing hub for Tokyo’s pop culture since 1973, it closed down for an extensive remodelling in 2016. Rebuilt in 2019, the shopping complex houses more than just luxury stores and streetwear brands. 

It also features a basement depachika (Japanese food hall), art galleries, a movie house, a theatre, as well as an entire floor dedicated to all things manga and gaming. So, you’ll never run out of things to do in this shopping and entertainment haven! 

Also read: 10 Must-Visit Museums in Japan for Anime and Manga Fans

Tokyo’s busiest district is a whirlwind of delights! There’s no shortage of things to do in Shibuya. This is where the night is always young. And down the streets of Tokyo, getting lost is its own prize.

Featured image credit: Dick Taylor Johnson | Flickr

About Authors

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany wrote articles on travel, food, and pop culture for TripZilla. As she plans her next adventure, she enjoys writing about the coolest places to stay around the world and where to find them.


Andrea Larice Yap
Andrea Larice Yap

Andrea is a writer and creative individual based in Manila. This tiny human runs on iced coffee, music and films. You’ll probably catch her daydreaming in a park or jotting down random words to to put in a song. Otherwise, expect her taking a dive in the pool of uncertainty called “life.”