Shibuya Center-Gai, right across from Shibuya Station, is a hub for modern music and nightly entertainment. As you exit Shibuya Station, you’ll be greeted by the bustle of Shibuya Crossing, and after entering the street just to the left of the Tsutaya and Starbuck signs, you’ll find yourself in Shibuya Center-Gai. In addition to the main street, this vast area also includes a large number of side streets and alleyways, so make sure you set aside plenty of time to explore it all!
Shibuya Center-Gai was originally a road built on embankments on the Udagawa River, the name of which can still be found at some addresses in the area. Now, the river has been replaced by countless shops, restaurants, clubs, and attractions, so let’s take a look at 10 of the best things to do when you visit Shibuya Center-Gai.
1. Cross the Shibuya crossing
An obvious number one: enter the famous Shibuya Crossing, known as one of the busiest crosswalks in the world. At its peak, up to 3,000 people cross this intersection when the light turns from red to green! The crossover has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and video games, and it’s sure to wow in real life, too. The Junction View Starbucks is one of the busiest Starbucks stores in the world, offering great views of the junction below. Be sure to check out the big screen TVs that surround the intersection, promoting the latest music, video games and movies.
2. Buy clothes
Shopping is one of the main attractions of Shibuya Center-Gai, and you won’t miss the clothing stores. Popular chains as well as quirky and unique shops can be found here, and don’t forget to check out the many shops hidden underground or in huge multi-story buildings. Tokyo is known as one of the most modern cities in the world, and with the options at Shibuya Center-Gai alone, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
3. Play in an arcade
Arcades are lively and entertaining places to visit for both children and adults. Inside you can find a wide collection of arcade games, including crane games, racing games, shooting games, fighting games, retro arcade games, rhythm games and purikura posts (more on these later). Part of the fun is finding particular game fans who have really honed the gaming skills for their favorite hobby. At night, it’s not uncommon to see office workers standing shoulder to shoulder with high school kids, all frantically playing rhythm games and all incredibly good at them. In most arcades, you’ll need 100 yen coins to operate the machines, but there are usually coin-changing terminals available. Try not to get too addicted to the games, there are so many more things to spend your time in Shibuya!
4. Relax in a cafe
Besides the Starbucks overlooking Shibuya Crossing, there are plenty of other cafes to be found once you enter the area around Shibuya Center-Gai. This includes some rather unusual and unique options, such as animal and even maid cafes, but there are also many more traditional places to kick back and enjoy a good cup of coffee or tea accompanied by Japanese sweets.
5. Drink at an Izakaya
In Shibuya, there are plenty of opportunities to grab a drink and enjoy delicious bar snacks. the concept of a izakaya order drinks and small plates continuously throughout the night. Anger izakaya It’s the Japanese way of meeting friends or colleagues to eat, drink and be merry. They are a great way to try typical Japanese dishes, as well as a good opportunity to mingle with the locals. Japan is well known for being a polite and demure country, but at a izakaya the facade is crumbling and people tend to relax, so make the most of this opportunity to interact with the real Japanese!
6. Take good photos
There’s a reason this area of Tokyo appears so often in movies and other media: it’s incredibly photogenic. The neon lights, the vertical billboards on the buildings, the clean streets, the fashionable people, the red lanterns hanging from the izakaya storefronts – all add to the unique atmosphere of the neighborhood. On rainy days, Shibuya takes on a completely different look with the city lights beautifully reflected in the puddles. Whatever the weather, you’re guaranteed to be able to take great photos to share with the people in your home.
7. Eat conveyor belt sushi
Although Shibuya Center-Gai is known for hosting a wide variety of international restaurants, you can of course never go wrong with Japanese cuisine. If you are looking to try good quality sushi items at affordable prices, visit Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurants (kaiten sushi either kaitenzushi). Order from a screen and watch your sushi momentarily arrive on the conveyor belt. This combination of innovative technology, affordability, and high quality food will never disappoint.
Have you really been to Japan if you haven’t visited a Hands of Tokyo store? If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, Tokyu Hands is a one-stop-shop for many unique Japanese products, including housewares and DIY products. You can find many examples of Japanese design and innovation on the many floors of the famous Tokyu Hands branch in Shibuya. A great place to shop for souvenirs or gifts!
9. Purikura essay
We allude to purikura Earlier in this article when we talked about arcades, but those photo booths are self-explanatory. In a purikura photo booth, there is usually room for four people, so feel free to bring your fellow travelers inside the booth with you. Strike a few poses while the booth takes your photos, then the real fun begins! Purikura it’s a kind of photo editing that will instantly dial up the cuteness of any image. The eyes are comically widened and the skin is smoothed and blurred. You can add colorful shiny background and glitter effects. Add some cute blush and animal ears while you’re at it. Finally, cover the image with stickers and slightly nonsensical English phrases and print your most unique keepsake yet.
10. Eat ramen
Shibuya is well known for its fantastic ramen, and there is no shortage of ramen restaurants here. An excellent option is the chain of stores “Ichiran Ramen”: choose your favorite ramen at the entrance terminal, modify it to your liking and pay your food ticket. When you sit down and hand your ticket to the staff, they will prepare your dish right away. The main shop in Shibuya is always crowded and you’ll have long lines, but the other shop in Center-Gai tends to be much quieter without compromising Ichiran’s famous quality, so stop there for your ramen fix.
With all of the above and more to offer, Shibuya Center-Gai could easily become your new favorite spot in Tokyo. What are you most looking forward to?
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