Shibuya is perhaps the most recognisable place in Tokyo. The bustling streets, the towering buildings and the giant TV screens can be too much to take in at once. However, all of this and more makes it a particularly unique, and photogenic, area of the world’s most populous metropolitan city.
Home to the majority of Japan’s youth fashion and culture movements since the 1970s, you will find yourself surrounded by native young adults and teenagers as well as tourists taking in the sights.
You may be wondering where the best sights are – particularly those aforementioned photo-spots. This article will give you with a definitive – and, more importantly, varied – list of where you can find 10 of the most Instagrammable spots in Shibuya.
1. Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Starting with the most obvious. You probably know about Shibuya Scramble Crossing before even visiting there. It is said to be the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing, with up to 3000 people crossing at a single time. It proves to be a sight to behold both from above and on the ground.
The crossing area is full of sights in itself. When the lights change, you will see a mass of humanity unlike any other, but the fun is spotting the individuals in the crowd. From tourists desperate for their crossing picture, to dazzlingly-dressed locals, you can see anything and everything in a matter of seconds.
Lurking behind the crossing is the famous Shibuya 109, popular among young women. Outside the station you will also find a statue of Hachiko, a dog noted for his incredible loyalty to his owner. The statue of Hachiko is often labelled as a must-visit spot in Tokyo.
So, after you’ve taken pictures of Shibuya Scramble from the ground, but now may wonder where the best place is to get a photo from above?
2. Shibuya Sky
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Located in the colossal Shibuya Scramble Square building, Shibuya Sky offers panoramic views of central Tokyo like nowhere else. The observation deck boasts a rooftop bar, hammocks for relaxing and compass guides to see other local landmarks such as Tokyo Tower and the National Stadium.
Shibuya Sky’s most alluring attraction, though, is the chance to see the city at night. When the sun sets, Tokyo – and Shibuya in particular – takes on another life. Illuminated by neon glows and advertising boards, Shibuya at night is a photographer’s dream. As well as this, Shibuya Sky also hosts an 18-beam beacon that can be seen from miles away. It is a spectacle to be seen up-close too.
Shibuya Sky is not the only place to view the city – and the crossing – from above. Visits to Magnet, Hikarie and the Starbucks directly overlooking the action are all worth visiting – but Shibuya Sky offers perhaps the most complete and unimpeded lookout.
Book Here: Shibuya Sky
3. Miyashita Park
Miyashita Park is a green oasis among the concrete of Shibuya. Despite re-opening during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has already established itself as a go-to place for people looking to relax and take a break from the bustle of the streets nearby.
Located almost directly opposite Shibuya Station, the redeveloped park has almost everything you could ask for. The rooftop greenery is also home to a skatepark, a climbing wall and a multi-purpose activity space. Below are three floors of shops ranging from high-end brands to cheap sweets.
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There is also no shortage of places to eat, with both a food court featuring all kinds of fast food, and individual restaurants offering food from both Japan and other countries.
The key appeal to Miyashita Park from a photographer’s perspective, though, is by the escalators on the south side. Here is a perfect viewpoint of an understated and old-fashioned street that marks a stark contrast to the ever-developing city around it.
4. Nonbei Yokocho
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The word “yokocho” means “alleyway” in Japanese, but it has come to take on a greater meaning involving the eateries and izakayas it houses which usually always provide perfect photo opportunities for street photographers.
Nonbei Yokocho in particular stands out because it is still enduring despite the futuristic surroundings that dwarf it. You will find Nonbei Yokocho marked by its typical Japanese lanterns hanging at either end, and the dim lights of the izakayas give it a nostalgic illumination at night.
It is easy to miss the inner-alley, directly next to the more obvious street that leads to Miyashita Park. This smaller, more discreet hideaway is perfect for pictures at any time of day, but it is particularly recommended to visit on a rainy night. Puddles reflecting the bright red lanterns gives a beautiful image that is sadly dying out in an increasingly-modern city.
If you want more of these kind of pictures for your camera, there is another spot conveniently placed only seconds away.
5. Shibuya Yokocho
Shibuya Yokocho is definitely one of the most Instagrammable places in Shibuya!
On the ground floor of Miyashita Park is a more modern yokocho that still sports an old-style identity. Shibuya Yokocho opened alongside the newly developed park, and has quickly become a popular place to go for drinking and eating typical Japanese food while socialising.
You will find your eyes darting everywhere to take in all the sights in such a concentrated spot. It is a perfect place to capture the social side of Japan, but also focus on the finesse of the décor. The shops all resemble an older style – much like its authentic neighbour – and the attention to detail is impressive.
The always-photogenic lanterns hang everywhere, while the bright lights give a subtle reminder you are still in the 21st century. Indeed, there is so much to see, eat and drink here that it is possible to forget to take any pictures at all.
If you want to visit similar places, feel free to check out our list of the best yokocho in Tokyo.
6. Shibuya Star Lounge
Star Lounge looks like a venue straight out of a movie. The red façade provides another unique spot in Shibuya. Located in the glittering Udagawacho, the live house hosts all kinds of music from rock to hip-hop.
A dusky red interior complete with chandeliers and a disco ball continue the atmosphere that starts outside. Star Lounge is another spot that takes on a life of its own at night as glowing golden bulbs light up the front. The variety of music played inside comes with no shortage of people to provide foreground action to photos.
While Udagawacho plays host to a lot of the high-end beauty of Shibuya, Dogenzaka is home to some of the seedy underbelly. Neon lights fill the side streets and smoky restaurants give an atmospheric flair to proceedings.
Don’t be put off by this though. The area is perfectly safe and truly full of nooks and crannies that are worthy of pictures only Tokyo can provide. It is easy to find, behind the earlier-mentioned Shibuya 109.
A highlight of Dogenzaka is the Shibuya Dotonbori Theater. Easily found by its huge red and yellow neon signs, take your camera here at night to capture the essence of what this district is all about.
8. Pokemon Center
You may be tired from all the street photography, so here is something different. The Pokemon Center in Shibuya Parco is a now-quintessentially-Japanese place to visit.
Opened in late-2019, the Shibuya branch offers some more unique features to stand out from its counterparts. It might feel like you are entering a futuristic laboratory from the sleek black and white interior, but the amount of Pokemon goods on offer will be sure to put you at ease.
You can also find a Shibuya-exclusive, street art-style Pikachu toy, as well as street clothing and skateboard decks. The true masterpiece, and indeed the ultimate photo spot, is at the entrance. A life-size Mewtwo floats meditatively in a tank and is arguably the number 1 sight for Pokemon-lovers in Japan.
9. Pepper Parlor
While there are a lot of places to eat in Shibuya, none are quite the experience of Pepper Parlor in Tokyu Plaza. Pepper Parlor is a café that specialises in waffles, but also offers other food like pasta, as well as various drinks. It’s all fairly reasonably priced, but that isn’t the draw.
When you enter, you will be immediately greeted by a reception desk of several robots known as Pepper. Pepper is a humanoid who can speak several languages and respond to human interactions. There are a dozen of them in the café, and will meet you at your table while giving you the chance to talk and play games.
The café occasionally collaborates with other brands, such as the Yokohama Gundam Factory, where you could see some Pepper units specially coloured to mimic the iconic Japanese anime robot.
If that isn’t enough, you can see other robots whizzing around to clean and deliver orders to tables. There is also a group of smaller robots, named NAO, that give dance performances. The entire experience proves to be light-hearted and enjoyable, with plenty of other-worldly things to take pictures of. You would be forgiven for thinking this was a location from Star Wars, but you do not need a spaceship to visit there.
10. Aoyama Technical College
If you want to see something different to where all the other cameras are pointing, Aoyama Technical College is one of those places. Less than 10 minutes’ walk from Shibuya Station, the college specialises in building and interiors – and that is quite clear from merely looking from outside.
A beauty you will find in Tokyo is that there are unique structures neatly fitted between the ordinary. Grand designs sitting comfortably next to the simple and functional. These forms of architecture make for excellent photo spots. They can also serve as something of a badge of achievement for finding them among the maze of streets.
Aoyama Technical College is a perfect example of this. It is designed to both inspire its students, and capture the imagination of passers-by. The building looks something like a Transformer that got stuck halfway between changing from vehicle to robot. It is truly a sight to behold, and well worth a quick stop if you are looking for somewhere to take a picture that hasn’t been taken thousands of times already that day.
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed our list of the 10 most Instagrammable spots in Shibuya that will amaze your followers. Tokyo is a city of variety, and Shibuya embraces that. All of these places can be visited in one day and are easily accessible on foot. Be sure to check them all off when you visit, and capture what makes the city such an icon of modern Japanese culture.