Harajuku, Meiji Shrine, and More: 8 Cool Things to Do in Shibuya, Tokyo

Harajuku, Meiji Shrine, and More: 8 Coolest Things to Do in Shibuya, Tokyo

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

Youthful energy sizzles through the streets of Shibuya, which just might be the trendiest district 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 has an urge to stay up a little longer and wander the moody alleys past dawn. No matter where you go in Shibuya, there are plenty of views along the way and no shortage of things to do! These are what we recommend on your first visit.

Also read: 31 Fun Things to Do in Tokyo on Your First Visit [Updated 2019]

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. At the Aoyama Flower Market Tea House, for example, a lush café serves delicate cups of tea inside a greenhouse. But one of the best places to go café-hopping is Cat Street, the quieter sister of Takeshita Street in Harajuku and an underrated spot where you can witness Japanese hipster culture. Expect to see many showrooms, vintage stores, fashion boutiques, and hole-in-the-wall eateries that cater to tastes of a rising generation. In Shibuya, you won’t have to look too far for that picture-perfect haunt.

Also read: Top 15 Cafes to Visit in Tokyo

2. 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, a night out in its neon-lit streets is one you shouldn’t miss!

3. 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 the Shibuya train 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 the Shibuya Train 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 intersection. 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

4. Sift through the music collections at Tower Records

things to do in shibuya: tower records

Image credit: Rob Young (left); Pharaoh_EZYPT (right)

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. 

5. 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. At 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: Japan’s Cherry Blossoms 2020 Forecast: When & Where to Catch Them?

6. Write down your wishes at Meiji Shrine

things to do in shibuya: visit meiji shrine

Image credit: cotaro70s (left); kota (right)

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.

7. 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 district 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 Scramble. 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 CrepesAlternatively, 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. 

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

things to do in shibuya: explore nonbei yokocho

Image credit: Denys Nevozhai (left); Andy Yeo (right)

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: Top 10 Places for Cheap and Good Food in Shibuya

Tokyo’s busiest district is a whirlwind of delights! Anyone journeying to Shibuya will surely not run out of things to do. 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 Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer based in Manila. When she was younger, she knew she wanted to write stories or go on adventures—now, she's learning to do both. She enjoys being swept up in books that spark her curiosity for new places, both real and imaginary.

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