Shibuya is Tokyo’s energetic heart. This area is just so damn cool. This is the perfect Shibuya one day itinerary to hit up all the major sights.
Iconic Shibuya crossing, where 200,000 people flow across each day, is the perfect representation of this part of Tokyo. Dynamic, busy, organized chaos. Youth culture thrives here, and famous Harajuku is the centre for all things cool. This Shibuya one day itinerary stops at all the major sights.
It may come as a surprise that one of Tokyo’s most famous and serene shrines is located in Shibuya. Meiji Shrine is one of the best spots to visit in the area, so make sure to make room for it on your Shibuya itinerary.
What are the best things to do in Shibuya? Here’s a quick Shibuya one day itinerary.
Visit Hachiko’s Statue
Hachiko’s story is one of Japan’s beloved childhood tales. This statue commemorates the real-life dog for his unfaltering loyalty. Hachiko’s owner, a professor named Hidesaburo Ueno, would commute to work every day. Hachiko would meet his owner at Shibuya Station to walk him home at the end of each day.
One day, Ueno passed away. But Hachiko continued to wait at the station every evening for the next 9 years until his own passing.
Long after he died, stories continue to remember Hachiko for his loyalty. His story is a national symbol of faithfulness, inspiring movies, books, and the bronze statue in Shibuya.
The statue is right outside Shibuya Station. Just take the Hachiko entrance/exit to pass by the iconic statue. It’s a sweet story.
Cross famous Shibuya Crossing
Walking across Shibuya Crossing is an experience.
It’s a “scramble crossing”, which is a fancy way of saying all directions stop for pedestrians. Every few minutes, traffic stops completely and the intersection becomes a sea of people. It’s one of the world’s busiest scramble crossings. Apparently, as many as 2500 people cross at a time.
The intersection is bright, surrounded by shops and giant TV billboards. It feels like being in Times Square of Tokyo. It’s crazy to see the huge amount of people that cross every time—it was one of those moments when I realized the scale and density of Tokyo.
The Starbucks over the crossing is one of the best vantage points. It’s awesome to go upstairs and watch the crowds from above. There is seating along the main window, which is always packed (of course). I was lucky enough to snag a spot. It’s great for people-watching, but you’ll have other tourists sticking cameras over your shoulder. All part of the experience!
Nowadays, there’s a new ticketed vantage point called Shibuya Sky. It’s an observation deck 230m over Shibuya. I’m sure it has a great view.
Shibuya crossing is on every Shibuya one day itinerary. It’s worth stopping by once during the day, and then once at night when all the signs and billboards light up.
I recommend wandering back into the heart of Shibuya later, but first, stop by Meiji Shrine. It closes earlier than the rest of Shibuya—sometimes as early as 4 pm. It’s one of the best things to do in Shibuya, so you don’t want to miss it.
Meiji Shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji, the first emperor of modern Japan. It was built in 1920, destroyed during World War II, and rebuilt again shortly after. It’s up there as one of Tokyo’s most visited sites. Despite being quite busy, the shrine feels serene and spiritual.
The design is simple and less adorned than some other famous shrines. It’s hard to believe it’s in the middle of Japan’s biggest city.
One of the best parts of visiting is the walk from the main gate to the shrine. When you walk through the giant Torii gate, the scenery transports you somewhere far away from the city. You can hardly hear the hum of traffic nearby.
You’ll pass tall displays of sake barrels, and the evergreen trees tower over you as you walk down the path. The forest surrounding the shrine consists of over 100,000 trees of 365 different species, donated from all over Japan.
Once you reach the main hall, you can make an offering, say a prayer, write down your wishes on an amulet, or purchase a protective charm. The shrine grounds also hosts several festivals throughout the year.
To spend a little time in nature, take a pit stop in Yoyogi Park. It’s right next to Meiji Shrine, and it’s one of Tokyo’s largest and most popular parks. There are some cherry blossom trees, so it’s a pretty sight in the spring. But it’s the autumn leaves that steal the show, when it’s ginkgo trees turn intensely golden.
I personally think there are more exciting things to do in Tokyo than visit the park. But the park is a serene spot to take a rest. Yoyogi Park is charming because it attracts all sorts of people. If it’s a nice day, it’s the spot to sit and people watch while you have a picnic and rest your feet from all the sightseeing.
Harajuku area & Takeshita Street
This area is just so. Damn. Fun. Most travellers associated Harajuku with Takeshita Street (myself included). Takeshita St is the famous crowded street with all. the hip stores and colourful displays.
There are tons of chic boutiques, funky dessert shops, and trendy cafes. Of course, you’ll see some of the unique street style that makes this area famous. Youth culture is alive and well here. You’ll walk past people who look like they stepped right out of a magazine. Grab a fruity Japanese crepe or a rainbow grilled cheese sandwich and take lots of pictures – it’s super colourful and fun.
Takeshita Street can get super busy. I visited at sunset and it had mostly emptied – but this means many stores were closed as well. It was nice to be able to take some pics without jostling with other people.
Harajuku actually refers to the area around Harajuku station. It’s worth wandering off the main Takeshita Street. Cat Street is another famous area, especially if you’re coming to shop rather than fight the crowds.
Omotesando Avenue is the thoroughfare with all the bougie stores and mega-brands. It’s a pretty shopping street to walk down.
You’ll also want to stop by Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku. It’s an Insta-famous spot, but it’s just as cool in real life. It’s pretty trippy going up the escalator in this cave of mirrors.
Shop & explore Shibuya 109 and Center Gai
The area around Shibuya Crossing is as busy as the crossing itself. Center Gai is the main street that connects to the crossing. There are tons of malls, stores, and restaurants in this area. You truly won’t understand the scale of the stores here until you accidentally spend hours wandering through just one shop!
Lifestyle stores Tokyu Hands and Loft are my favourite. Everything in there is so freakin cute.
Shibuya 109 is a multi-level shopping centre and boy, does it have that hip Tokyo-youth aesthetic. It’s ten floors of trendy, neon-lit fashion-mazes. It was originally built to target fashionable women in their thirties. Now it skews a little younger. The shops carry trendy clothing, accessories, and beauty products, including some subculture fashion.
This area is so vibrant, everyone looks so damn cool, and the style is chef’s kiss. I wish I could fit into Japanese-size clothing (it’s much smaller than North American sizes) because the fashion was cooler than I’ll ever be.
Tokyo has a few of these little alleyways that look like relics of decades past. Nonbei Yokocho is the one to check out in Shibuya. The narrow, rundown alleyway is such a cool street to wander through. These streets light up with warm lanterns and have clouds of izakaya smoke permeating the air.
Nonbei Yokocho is also known as Drunkards alley. Some of these bars here date back to the 1950s and are favourite drinking holes of patrons in the community. Most of these bars are very cosy; some literally only fit four to five people.
This Shibuya one day itinerary will take you from morning to night in one of Tokyo’s most exciting areas.
Shibuya is exciting, frenetic, and busy – it’s one of my favourite spots in Tokyo. If it’s your first time visiting Tokyo, this itinerary shows some of the best things to do in Shibuya.