Your Ultimate Guide To Seeing The Best Of Tokyo’s Shibuya District In A Swift 24 Hours

shibuya tokyo

I visited Shibuya in Tokyo for the first time this year and, like all those who have come before me, I haven’t stopped talking about it since.

Chances are you also know an insufferable person like me — heck, you might even be one — and they’ll usually tell you that they didn’t have long enough in the city or are desperately wanting to go back.

The longer you have in this wild city the better, but given most of us have chewed up a shitload of annual leave over the last two years, I’ve created a few Shibuya must-sees for those on a bit of a time crunch.

Walk Across The Famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing

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Me, bracing myself to cross the intersection. Image: Supplied.

The Shibuya Scramble Crossing is essentially what it says on the tin — a mad scramble to cross the road (seriously, upwards of 1,000 people can cross from all corners of the intersection at a time).

Some would describe it as the Times Square of Shibuya, with lit-up advertising and billboards surrounding the pedestrian crossing and tourists stopping to take photos before their crossing time’s up.

It’s exciting, quick, chaotic and, of course, free to be a part of. Shibuya wakes up late, so the Scramble Crossing becomes more and more worthwhile the later it gets. The difference for me crossing at 11am versus 6pm was unbelievable. I suggest and afternoon and a night visit if you’re staying close — it’s easy enough!

Check Out The Hachikō Memorial Statue By Shibuya Station

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The best doggo! Image: Supplied.

In essence this tourist attraction is a small dog statue, but the story is so sweet (and sad) that it’s worth the visit if it resonates with you.

Back in 1920s, Hachikō the dog would go to Shibuya Station and wait for his owner to come back from his daily commute. When the owner suffered a fatal cerebral hamorrhage, he never returned from work — but Hachiko kept coming back to the station, to the same spot, to wait for his owner every day for the next nine years.

I know, I know. It’s actually too much. The statue has a line of people waiting to take photos with it (or of it) every day and is now a symbol of loyalty. The statue is easy to visit given it’s next to Shibuya Station and right near Shibya Scramble Crossing. You can literally bang the tourist attractions out with a matter of minutes!

If you’re interested, there is a movie (that’ll make you cry) called Hachi: A Dog’s Tale with Richard Gere — based on the story of Hachikō — if you want to get up to speed.

Stock Up On J-Beauty

I will be allocated 45 minutes for this corner alone. Image: Supplied.

MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya Main Store is directly across from Hotel Indigo Shibuya and has entire levels dedicated to J-Beauty (you’ll find other levels for snacks, clothes, stationery and more).

Don’t forget your passport to get your products tax-free (on the top level) and to reserve plenty of time for your visit — don’t underestimate how much time can be spent sifting those face masks and nose wax.

There’s also Matsumoto Kiyoshi Shibuya where you’ll find cheap, TikTok-trending drugstore beauty items as well as Cosme in Harajuku, which is basically Japan’s MECCA.

Eat Flying Sushi At Uobei

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The most affordable and headache-free place I’ve eaten in years tbh. Image: Supplied.

If you’re looking for a fun, convenient and affordable — yet still unique — place to eat in Shibuya, I’d highly recommend Uobei.

Uobei is a busy sushi place where you are allocated a seat number, you order off an iPad-like screen as many times as you like and your sushi flies down a conveyor belt to your seat within minutes. I ordered four plates of sushi and a beer and it was roughly $14 AUD. Wild!

Given there are so many epic food options to try in Japan, Uobei is a good one for a quick snack or lunch or dinner when you’ve got to be somewhere quickly.

Virgin Australia cabin manager Shisei was born in Tokyo and recommends Japanese Soufflé pancakes from A Happy Pancake in Shibuya “for the fluffiest and dreamiest pancakes in Tokyo.”

“I recommend to royal milk tea flavour for something different from other pancake shops. Don’t forget to check out the very Harry Potter-like hidden bathroom located inside the library shelf!” He said.

Take A Stroll Through Yoyogi Park

Better in Spring, I imagine? Image: Supplied.

As with any city, it can feel a bit hustle-and-bustle with all the buildings and shops and as if you need a taste of nature. Yoyogi Park is your solution in Shibuya, and actually one of the biggest in all of Tokyo.

Yoyogi Park has several bodies of water, hundreds of cherry trees (I missed out on seeing this in full force as I visited in Autumn) and is on the way from Harajuku to Shibuya if you were wanting to visit the neighbouring area anyway.

I would suggest getting the train from Shibuya Station to Harajuku Station to experience the public transport system (it’s an attraction in and of itself) and then walking back to Shibuya through the park. I say this because you can end up walking around the park trying to find an entrance, while the Harajuku side’s entry is nice and clear with the large temple out front.

Do Karaoke Where Lost In Translation Was Filmed

Singing over the streets of Shibuya? Sign me up. Image: Supplied.

Have I seen the 2003 movie Lost In Translation featuring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson? No. Did it get talked about a lot when I was in Tokyo? Hell yeah it did.

In some stroke of luck Room 601 at Shibuya’s Karaoke Kan — aka the Lost In Translation room — was available for us to sing (badly) and dance (worse) in.

It looks a little different to when it was actually filmed (it’s been 20 years, after all!!!), but considering you’re going to be doing karaoke at some point during your Tokyo visit, why not make it iconic? Heaven knows I’ve been telling people I did karaoke in that very room.

If you’re really feeling it and have missed the train (they all stop at midnight), try a hole-in-the-wall bar or WOMB nightclub afterwards. Or be sure to grab late-night (or breakfast) ramen like the locals!

This writer travelled as a guest of Virgin Australia. Check out their flights to Japan, including the newly launched 7.5-hour flight from Cairns to Tokyo.

Image Source: Ken Straiton/Getty Images.