Shibuya embodies what most people envision Tokyo to be: crowded streets, neon lit skyscrapers and youngsters in the most outstanding ensembles. I visited this lively area during the summer time and decided to put together a little guide: where is the best place to go shopping, have – a futuristic – dinner and do some sightseeing aka people watching?
SHOPPING IN SHIBUYA
Shibuya is the area to go shopping in Tokyo, as it is the place where many Japanese fashion trends started. You’ll find lots of Japanese brands as well as big international stores here. And if you’re not into shopping it’s a great place for people watching. Japanese are known for their outspoken style and Shibuya is no exception: watching the youth strut through the streets of Shibuya in their unique creations is like sitting front row at a fashion show.
Shibuya 109 is probably Tokyo’s most famous department store. This never ending shopping walhalla is worth visiting even if you’re not into shopping. It’s like a clothing museum where every kind of style you can imagine is being sold. The stores inside the Shibuya 109 tower are quite expensive even during sales. That being said, the quality most of clothes is great.
Every shop inside Shibuya 109 mall has it’s own unique style. And Japan being Japan, they step things up a notch compared to department stores in Europe or even the States: all the sales assistants of a particular store are styled from head-to-toe in the style that they represent. Now, this might not sound so strange, but if I tell you that even their hair is dyed a certain color (ranging from purple to blond, depending on the shop) and their makeup (this can even include tanning or whitening) done in a way that fits the particular style they represent it gets a little stranger. For example in Liz Lisa, one of Japan’s most famous clothing brands, all shop assistants have light colored poofy hair, doll like makeup on their face and wear pastel colored floral dresses.
There is a HUGE Forever21 in Shibuya. This might not sound so exciting for my American readers, but in Europe a Forever21 store is a rare sight. In my country, The Netherlands, the first one only opened this year. People from Germany travel all the way to Amsterdam just to shop at Forever21. Next to that I’m highly convinced that Forever21 carries a different, much better, collection in Asia then in the USA. This could be totally false, but that’s what I perceived walking into the store.
Let’s face it: Japan, and especially, Shibuya is quite expensive and hot in the summer. Fortunately for us tourist the streets of Shibuya are packed with people giving out free samples of products that are usually so good that you’ll end up buying it in bulk. All joking aside – Japanese products are of extreme good quality – during hot days smart marketers are for example giving out free drinks, a great opportunity to try something new and cleans your thirst. Most Japanese supermarkets and sweet stores have free samples as well. Me being an extreem sweet tooth I made great use of this – and of course ended up buying it by the bulk too…
SIGHTSEEING IN SHIBUYA
While Shibuya is best known for it’s fashion, there are also a lot of non fashion related things that are worth a visit. I visited the following two places.
If you go to Shibuya in Tokyo you can’t miss out on seeing the scramble crossing that is Shibuya Crossing. The pictures above are taken from the Starbucks located right on the crossing. Here you have the best overview. Watching the lights turn green at Shibuya Crossing is like watching a nest of ants erupt. It’s people watching at it’s best!
The famous story of Hachiko: the owner of Hachiko, a Japanese professor named Ueno, took the train to work everyday and when he returned Hachiko was there waiting right on time. Even after the professor died Hachiko continued to wait at the Station. At statue of Hachiko stands right outside Shibuya station and had become a well-known meeting spot for Japanese and tourists alike. The statue doesn’t stand on the exact spot where Hachiko waited for professor Ueno. This sport, which was located in the old station, is marked with bronze paw-prints accompanied by a Japanese text telling Hachiko’s story of loyalty.
EATING IN SHIBUYA
There are countless and countless of little restaurants in Shibuya. While my boyfriend Chris and I were wondering the streets of Shibuya we randomly came across several really unique restaurants. Wandering around for food is definitely a recommendation if you have a bit more time, if you only have a day or two I highly suggest visiting the following place.
Futuristic Sushi at Uobei
Uobei sushi is the most futuristic place I’ve ever eaten: you order your sushi from a screen and a little train delivers the plates in front of you. Only 105 yen ( at this rate around 0,75 euro) per plate. The sushi there is great for the price you pay and the experience of eating in a place like Uobei will definitely contributed to an amazing experience in Tokyo.
For more restaurant options check out Cheeserland.com, a blog by a Malaysian fashion blogger and Japan lover.
And if you’re not in the mood for authentic Japanese food: there are lots of good italian restaurants in Tokyo. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant we went to, but it was near the Spanish Slopes. The pizza there was amazing. On a lot of other blog I’ve also read that the quality of Japanese made Italian food is great, so I definitely recommend trying it out.
If you want to have more information about the things you can do in Shibuya also check out japan-guide.com.
Hope you enjoyed this little Shibuya guide!