Shibuya is a ward in Tokyo, Japan with a buzzing nightlife, shopping and cheap great sushi and cool shrines. You might also know it for their crazy scramble crossing junction. It is a district area situated right beside the Shinjuku ward, which too is also quite a beast of its own which I am covering in a separate post. Today, we are going to check out the mellower, but just as loaded Shibuya ward.
Shibuya scramble crossing
The poster boy of Shibuya is the iconic scramble crossing. It is a massive crossing where pedestrian are free openly cross anywhere on the road. You can even inter-cross between different junctions and even diagonally across from 2 junctions away.
Moreover, it does get pretty disorientating on the ground at first as there is no order or linear flow which you can follow, everywhere one going in all directions. Hence, a crossing tactic is to focus on which building on the other end of the crossing. Simply just keep walking in that direction in a straight line.
Also, if you wish to watch the chaos from afar, the best place to watch from Tustaya building second floor Starbucks right in front of the junction. You can simply take an escalator up to the second floor and freely enter the dining area. Also, a line of bar stool tabled seating here overlooks the junction which you can use (preferably with a drink) to watch the chaos below.
Hachiko Memorial Statue
Furthermore, you won’t be faulted if you find the name Shibuya related to the Japanese Shiba Inu dog. Or it is the large Shiba Inu mosaic mural on the walls at the Shibuya station is a giveaway. It is largely due to a Shiba Inu by the name of Hachiko. The story is that this Shiba inu which diligently turns up at the station every day to meet his master, which sadly had already passed away.
Also, you can pose for pictures with his statue in a small courtyard garden. This green area greets you right at the entrance of Shibuya station. Also, it is a popular meeting spot with an old green electric tram carriage, with usually one or two street buskers in sight.
City views from Hikarie mall viewing deck
Moreover, the Hikarie mall is one of the few places you can catch a great free bird eye’s view of Shibuya Tokyo and the scramble crossing junction from a vantage point.
Additionally, the Sky lobby on the 11th floor is a vast open lobby connected to an office tower. You can simply head into the pedestrian mall and take an elevator to the viewing deck floor. Also, notably, there are a number of malls in the immediate region, including the Hikarie mall which are all connected via pedestrian overhead bridges.
Shopping and food, lots of it
Additionally, if shopping is your thing, Shibuya gets you well covered, really well covered. Also, you can find many big name stores here. Right at the Shibuya station is the 109 mall. Inside, it houses numerous boutiques selling trendy Japanese pop fashions.
Moreover, Shibuya has the usual anchor mall offerings to keep any shopper delighted. Here, you can find a massive Muji store complete with its own food court.
Pop Culture stores
Even pop-culture, anime, manga fans would rejoice with a massive Mandrake, Animate toy and comic store, as well as a Disney store here too. This is similar to the one and compliments the inventory offerings we visited in Akihabara Tokyo.
Additionally, there is even a mall located on the 6th floor of Shibuya Parco mall. It is a huge store complete with everything Nintendo merchandise. Moreover, interestingly, adjacent to the Nintendo store is also a Pokemon center with a Mewtwo standing by the entrance.
The Pokemon store is vast, a trait typical of Pokemon centers in Japan. It comprises of two halls with a vast selection of limited Japan-region only Pokemon merchandise such as plush toys.
Also, topping up the selections here at Parco is a Capcom store too. It is a much smaller stall but not limited in terms of merchandise offerings.
Moreover, there is a massive 8 floored Tokyu hands store here too which is more mega mart than the tiny stores we see in Singapore. Also, interestingly, you can even find unique items power tools, hardware and even a restaurant in this mega Tokyu hands in Shibuya. Electronics megastores such as Labi, BIC camera, and Shibuya Loft store selling craft items.
Topping up the big name stores here is the Mega Don Quijote Shibuya. It is like any typical Japnanese Don Quijote (Or what we call Don Don Donki in Singapore). In addition, this branch also retails some unique quirky Shibuya-unique Shiba inu dog-themed merchandise.
Nice Roast and Sushi food places
Additionally, recommended dining areas includes Niku Yokocho meat side street. It is a dinner place inconspicuously located on the 2nd floor of an office building. Also, it is part of the popular night life dining areas here in Shibuya. It is popular with locals and tourists too.
However, you ought to be wary of some tourist rip-off deals offering too good to be true deals or even free food. Otherwise, it is a great place for BBQ meats with friends over beer.
Moreover, if you are still hungry at night, there are several 24 hour eating outlets to meet your dining needs. Selections includes Ichiran Ramen Shibuya and Hanamaru udon located right beside Shibuya metro station.
Katsu Midori- Best Sushi in the region
Additionally, a highly recommended Sushi place in Shibuya, or probably the entire Tokyo for that matter, is the one which goes by Katsu Midori. Like most Japanese dining gems, it is inconspicuously tucked inside a main street shopping building.
Moroever, it is located on the 8th floor of the Seibu Shibuya shopping center. Katsu Midori is self-proclaimed to be the “No. 1 conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Japan“, serving very reasonably priced Sushi. I had to try it out for myself, and from my dine And I can say they are not wrong.
It is not like the long local queues of the Sushi place does give you a hint or two of its popularity. Hence, with the crowds, it is advised to reach the restaurant by 11:30am for lunch and dinner, 5:30pm to beat the long queues.
Additionally, you are greeted by staff in pure Japanese hospitality on arrival. Subsequently, you are led to a choice of conveyor belt facing lined tables or booth seating if you are in a group.
Affordable Sushi for the masses
Prices range from the colour of plate you take. White plates costs 110 yen, blue at 140, green plates at 170 yen, red 210 yen, and most expensive black plate range about 500-600 yen each.
Sushi recommendations here includes their beef sushi as well as their really fresh Sushi, fatty Tuna and snow crab. Exotics choices includes Sea Urchin, clams and their cooked blowfish, which is safe to eat unlike their raw counterparts.
Also, you pretty large good quality portions despite being affordably priced at 200 yen to 300 yen a plate for most of their Sushi range. Sashimi is really fresh, even rivaling premium Sushi outlets in Singapore and a much cheaper price point.
Special or impromptu order items arrive via Sushi Train Conveyor belt sushi. Interestingly, you can also purchase Katsu Midori souvenirs on the conveyor belt too.
Miyamasumitake Wolf Shrine
The Japanese Shinto religion involves animals as god messengers or even the gods themselves. Hence, it is not uncommon to find various animal shrines in Japan, including in the heart of cities. One notable animal shrine in Shibuya is the Miyamasumitake Wolf Shrine of the wolf guardian.
Additionally, the shrine is located a short 300 meters, 15 minute north-bound walk from Shibuya central metro station. A long staircase and archway greets you at the entrance which brings you up to a vast open courtyard with a stone garden. It is notably strangely surrounded by residential apartments. You can find a shrine and prayer altar as well as a counter you can buy charms from too.
Additionally, all proceeds goes into supporting the shrine itself. Notably, I had visited several cat (Neko) and fox (Inari) shrines in Japan. Notably, it is uncommon to find one devoted to wolf guardians (Okami), making this one of the rarest shrines you can find in Japan.
Moreover, the other such notable shrine is the Mitsumine Shrine. It is a relatively rare shrine that worships Japanese wolves, which is notably a now-extinct animal in Japan, that has been revered as a guardian against misfortune.
All in all, Shibuya is a Tokyo ward full of shopping, a buzzing nightlife and one of the best value Sushi restaurants in Tokyo. It is definitely on your visit list in when you are in Tokyo.