Shibuya Crossing – Top 10 Things to Do
No mere intersection, Shibuya Crossing is brimming with things to do and see. We've done our Shibuya Crossing research and come up with a definitive guide to the 10 best things to do at Shibuya Crossing - the busiest (and craziest) intersection in the world.
Shibuya Crossing – Everything You Need to Know
Take the JR Yamanote line or the Metro Ginza line, Metro Hanzomon line and Metro Fukutoshin line to Shibuya Station. The Shibuya crossing can be accessed from the Hachiko exit (Exit 8).
Read our article if you are still confused about the JR train and Metro subway systems in Tokyo.
What is the Shibuya Crossing?
The Shibuya intersection, claimed to be the most crowded intersection in the world, is unquestionably Tokyo’s most recognizable landmark. The crossing is an intersection for 5 major crosswalks and 10 vehicle lanes, as many as 3,000 pedestrians can cross in tandem and roughly 500,000 people cross daily. You’ll certainly know when you’ve arrived. Representative of the city more widely, the crossing is busy, loud and packed with things to see and do.
You’ll likely recognize Shibuya Crossing from Hollywood movies such as “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”, “Lost in Translation”, “Resident Evil: Afterlife” and countless TV shows, newscasts and music videos. But the crossing is more than mere spectacle.
But it’s just a crosswalk, no? No! There’s all manner of things going on, so much so, we’ve gone to the trouble of compiling a list of the best.
What’s more, for some tips on budget activities a little further afield, check out our recommendations for 12 free things to do in Shibuya.
1. Soak up the metropolitan vibes
The Shibuya crossing is encircled by high-rises, each adorned with giant LCD screens and colorful ads vying for attention. Immersing yourself in the scramble, you will be overwhelmed with the dynamic movement of the crowd, the roar of the traffic, advertisements, people, the neon lights and flashing images from above. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Feel the vibe. You are in one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the world!
2. People watch
Separating yourself from the crowd and watching from a distance is a wonderful experience.
This busy junction is always packed with tourists, students, shoppers, groups of friends, couples and commuters. As the lights turn red, masses of pedestrians from every direction rush into the intersection. Organized chaos ensues, with walking, sidestepping, bumping, swerving and sliding people all doing their best to get to where they’re going. Armies charging into battle, cards being shuffled, dancers on stage – choose your analogy at will.
As people make it to the other side and the throng dissipates it’s as if nothing even happened. Until the next time the lights turn red. When it’s raining, the colorful umbrellas enhance the chaos and make for an excellent photo opportunity.
3. Take a photo
Find a melee of photographers and videographers wandering around the crossing trying to capture the most artistic photos they can. Some would argue the crossing has already been captured from every angle possible – but no one told them that. For amateurs, the trick is to shoot a photo of yourself standing still among the moving crowd with a slow shutter speed. The blurred figures surrounding you will make the photo extremely surreal and impressive. You’ll likely face the mild wrath of a few rushed commuters, however. Selfies, as always, are cool too.
4. Visit Hachiko
This dog statue is another must-visit spot in Shibuya. This statue was erected to honor Hachiko, an Akita dog known for his exceptional loyalty to his owner – professor Hidesaburo Ueno. Every day he waited for his owner to finish work outside the station and continued to do so for 9 years, 9 months and 15 days after the professor’s death.
Nowadays, the statue of Hachiko is the most popular meeting point in Shibuya. Hachiko is also often dressed up during different events throughout the year.
5. Watch some performances
At the Shibuya crossing, there is a variety of street performances put on daily, from questionable dances to epic rap battles. This part of Shibuya is never boring.
6. Enjoy the randomness
Shibuya never fails to surprise tourists and pedestrians. Indeed, the crosswalk exemplifies two of Japan’s defining features: randomness and weirdness. All kinds of bizarre performances and unique advertisements are staged here. Take for example this creepy ad for horror movie “Sadako” below…
At the Shibuya intersection, anything goes.
7. Spot the Mario Go-Karts
The crossing is also a popular spot for real-life Mario Kart drivers, tearing up the tarmac and amusing pedestrians. Getting dressed up as your favorite Mario character and hitting the roads is an increasingly popular activity in the Japanese capital and Shibuya Crossing is the natural place for the karts to gravitate towards. Find out more and try it for yourself by clicking here.
8. Café L’Occitane (avoid Starbucks!)
Let’s face it, Starbucks is overrated. Though this location – opposite Shibuya Station with a view overlooking the famous intersection – makes it one of the busiest Starbucks in the world, it’s nothing more than a tourist trap. The counter on the second floor is extremely narrow, it’s always jammed with people and the drinks quality is not exceptional either.
Just across the street, on the opposite corner lies a much better option that not too many people are aware of – L’Occitane Café. The shop is spacious with a decent view of the crosswalk, not to mention the menu full of various delicious French desserts and teas. Choose L’Occitane Café instead of Starbucks and you will not be disappointed!
Opening hours: 10:00 am ~ 11:00 pm
9. Halloween at Shibuya Crossing
On a normal day, Shibuya Crossing is full of surprises and Halloween is the apex. The standard bloody zombies and adorable schoolgirls are here in abundance alongside some slightly more out-there outfits, like the gaggle of geese above. The streets are jammed with people in all directions, hanging out, taking photos and having a blast. People often say Tokyoites are shy and reserved – well, not on Halloween. Also catch the famous DJ police, loved for his unconventional crowd control techniques. Get ready for the most unforgettable Halloween ever!
For a taste of the Halloween chaos:
10. New Year’s Eve countdown
Shibuya definitely never sleeps, especially on the New Year’s Eve. The intersection is referred to as the “Times Square of Tokyo” as every year thousands of people flock here to see out the year in style. It is an extraordinary experience to be surrounded by people, to countdown to the new year together with the crowd, to hit various clubs for some parties and to visit different shrines. Best of all, on New Year’s Eve the trains run throughout the night so it’s the one night of the year you’re guaranteed to not get stranded.