A lot of people find the concept of planning a trip to Tokyo overwhelming. We understand. It's a huge place with hundreds of thousands of different things. That could never be fit into a two-week trip.
Here's a little tip for you that has changed the way we plan our trips to Tokyo (and in turn, made our trips a lot better too):
You should treat each area of Tokyo like an individual city. Plan lots of 1-2 day trips to these smaller areas, rather than one larger trip to Tokyo.
This trip changed the game for us. Now we research one area at a time, hit up all the best places in each area over a day or two. Then move onto the next part of Tokyo.
By planning our trips this way we have found dozens of hidden gems that simply get lost when you google 'things to do in Tokyo'.
Today we're going to share with you the ten best things we have done in Shibuya.
#10 - Takashimaya Times Square
Ever dreamed of a 16 floor building devoted entirely to shopping? Well, look no further than Takashimaya Times Square.
Whether you're interested in shopping the latest fashion - check out floors 10 and above- or looking for the best street food on this side of Tokyo - then check out the basement - you'll find something for you.
Other notable areas include a huge book shop that offers the largest range of English novels in the city, and a floor entirely devoted to all things DIY.
This shopping center is open every day of the week, is only two minutes walk away from the nearest train station, and is staffed by attendants that speak Chinese, Japanese, and English.
#9 - Maid Cafe (and other themed cafes)
Themed cafes are a huge deal in Japan. One of the most popular options at the moment is maid cafes.
If you're familiar with Anime you'll probably be aware of Maidream. This is a trend when people wish they could live the life of traditional English maids.
Maid cafes are usually staffed by Maidreamers. If you're interested in experiencing this unique part of modern Japanese culture then stop by Maidreamin for afternoon tea.
The cafe offers a fun Japanese take on the traditional English Tea shop. Kids can stay for free and are even given free ice cream. Adults must pay 800 yen for every hour they stay in the cafe.
This allows you to interact with the maids and they will perform special rituals for you. The most popular one of these is used as a blessing to improve the taste of food.
#8 - Hachiko Memorial
This memorial will make your heart melt. There are very few societies that spend enough time celebrating dogs. Nepal has a yearly festival to celebrate our four legged friends. In Tokyo, they have the Hachiko Memorial statue.
Just outside Shibuya Station, you can find the Hachiko Memorial Statue called Loyal and Faithful. The statue sits in an area surrounded by souvenir shops and street food vendors.
There is often quite a long queue to pose with the statute, so you may find yourself needing to make the most of some of those snacks.
The statue is dedicated to the dog Hachiko who met his owner at the train station after work every evening. He continued to do this for 9 years following his owner's death.
After Hachiko's own death, the workers at the train station had this statue erected in the puppy's honor to celebrate all the good dogs in the world.
#7 - Nonbei Yokocho, Drunkards’ Alley
If you are looking to get an idea about what a typical Japanese night out is like then you'll want to head down to Nonbei Yokocho.
This alley is full of small bars, used by the residents of Tokyo after a long day at work. They are often dimly lit and make no effort to compensate for tourists. This is where you want to go if you're looking for an authentic Tokyo experience.
In Nonbei Yokocho you'll not only find some great bars, but you'll also find some delicious drinks and street food.
#6 - Shibuya Crossing
We love reading travel articles. However, we are always shocked when we see the Shibuya crossing so high up on everyone's list.
Yes, this is one of the most iconic places in Shibuya, if not the whole of Tokyo. But, it's definitely not the most exciting thing to do in the city.
However, if you do want the true Tokyo experience then you should at least pay this place a fleeting visit. Remember if you pause on the crossing for too long to get photos, you might upset a local or too.
There is also the Shibuya Crossing Starbucks that is worth a visit. This cafe offers unparalleled views from ground level and above the crossing.
#5 - Harajuku
If you are at all interested in learning more about the Japanese Street Style craze, or just want to visit some of the funkiest shops in the country then you need to put a trip to Harajuku on your to-do list.
This area is not directly in Shibuya but is one step along the subway line. But if you're traveling down to Shibuya then you should not skip Harajuku.
Takeshita Dori (street) is one of the most popular destinations for shoppers in Japan. Nearly every Japanese fashion trend was born on this street. If you are at all a fashion fan then Takeshita Dori and its surrounding malls are a must-visit.
#4 - Tokyo Camii & Turkish Cultural Center
This may not be what a traditional tourist destination is expected to look like, particularly in Japan. But this is something in Shibuya that should not be missed.
Tokyo Camii (also known as Tokyo Mosque) is the largest mosque in Japan. If you are looking for somewhere to pray whilst in Tokyo then the 5th floor is open to worshipers from all over the world.
The Mosque was finished in the year 2000. Over 30 different Turkish craftsmen worked on different elements of the Mosque. They even had large amounts of marble shipped over from Turkey to build it.
The Turkish Cultural Center is an adjoining building to the mosque. This building is a small museum dedicated to Turkey that has a Turkish Cafe inside it. This cafe serves delicious Turkish coffee and snacks.
#3 - Museum of Yebisu Beer
Tourists can take a short tour of the Yebisu Beer headquarters. This tour includes a brief look at the behind-the-scenes of the business as well as a tour of the brewery.
This brewery tour has been named one of the best brewery tours in the world. If you're a fan of beer then this should not be missed.
During this tour, you are given the opportunity to try every beer that Yebisu makes. The tour also includes a hearty meal that costs less than $10 (USA).
Whether you're visiting in winter or summer you're going to want to visit this Museum.
#2 - Yoyogi Park
If you're looking for a peaceful way to end your day in Shibuya, why not take a stroll through Yoyogi park…
One of the great things about this park is that it is loved as much by the locals as it is by the tourists. If you're looking to experience a slice of everyday life in Tokyo, don't skip this park.
This is one of the largest parks in the city and it is often filled with street performers, dessert stands, and gorgeous greenery. You may even spot an adorable local dog or two.
#1 - Meiji Jingu Shrine
Speaking of finding some inner peace in the middle of downtown Tokyo… If you don't visit anywhere else in Shibuya, make sure you go to Meiji Jingu Shrine.
The entrance path into the Meiji Jingu Shrine is lined with a series of beautifully decorated Sake barrels. Two large gates mark the entrance to the shrine.
Behind these gates sit a garden hosting over 10,000 trees and over 150 species of Irises (visit in July if you want to witness these in bloom).
Another notable part of the shrine is the Treasure House. Within this house paintings of former Emperors are stored, alongside personal items and Kimonos that belonged to the former rulers.
How to Travel to Shibuya
Tokyo is a lot bigger than most people expect it to be. A lot of visitors do not allow for the cost of public transportation when planning their trips.
Buying a MetroCard for the length of your trip is one of the best ways to save money in Tokyo. As well as allowing you to travel on their train systems, this pass will also give you access to a few of the busses around the city.
Let's talk about the best ways to travel to Shibuya.
From the airport -
There are two great options if you are looking to travel straight to Shibuya from the airport.
You can either take the Skyline train (this will take just over 40 minutes and provides some great views to kick your trip off with) and the airport bus (this will stop off at many popular areas in downtown Tokyo.
The length of this bus ride will entirely depend on traffic in Tokyo that day).
From central Tokyo -
There are three inexpensive ways to get from central Tokyo to Shibuya - the subway, by train, or on the bus.
The T01 bus leaves from central Tokyo every 10 minutes and will stop off at many popular areas in downtown Tokyo.
Trains on the JR line travel out from central Tokyo, through downtown Tokyo, and beyond.
If you're looking to travel on the subway, jump on the Shinjuku line. These trains leave every 10 minutes and take between 11-16 minutes to get to Shibuya.
From Odaiba -
If you are traveling from the man-made island, the fastest and cheapest way is to jump on the Rainbow Bus. This will take you from the center of the island directly to Shibuya station.
And it will give you the opportunity to take in some of the stunning scenery from the Rainbow Bridge whilst you're at it.