Shibuya is shoppers’ heaven. All the big department stores are here, and entire vertical malls are filled with trendy teens. But there’s more to the area. Read on.
Shibuya Station can be a little disorienting. I found it difficult to determine where I was coming out of the exits. I came up with the following to try to help. When you come out of the station, look around:
• If you see Tokyu Plaza straight across the street, you came out the west half of the South Entrance. Turn right (north) and follow the street under the Subway tracks to get to Hachiko Plaza. (Hachiko Plaza honors the dog Hachiko who used to wait there every evening for his master, even after the master’s death. The area around the statue is a popular rendezvous spot for dates.)
• If, as you face the street, the elevated subway is to your left, and the elevated highway to your right, and you see the Kenwood sign across the street, and the dome of the planetarium to it’s left, you are on the east side of the station. Turn left (north), go under the subway, and you will be at the corner of Meiji Dori (Ave.) and Miyamasuzaka Street.
• If, as you look out with the station behind you, there is a Triangular ASAHI sign on the building in front of you, and you can see up the street in front of you and see a sign to Nomura and Pola, you are on the North East side of the station, at the corner of Meiji Dori (Ave.) and Miyamasuzaka Street. If you went under the JR tracks to your right, you would be at Hachiko Plaza.
• If, as you look out you see three televisions, and an elevated JR track to the right, you are in Hachiko Plaza. If you went under the JR track to your right, you would be heading East up Miyamasuzaka Street towards its intersection with Meiji Dori (Ave.). Brian Marriott 11/01
NHK Studio Park
This is a fun place to spend an hour or so during a day of shopping and dining in busy Shibuya. And it gives the non-shoppers a break from department-store overload! The tour gives visitors a look at the latest developments in the media, including various program production technologies. The interactive displays are fun for both children and adults. Displays include a 3D Hi-Vision theater, a dubbing studio where you can read the voices for animations and dramas, and a try-it-yourself studio where you can give the weather forecast or be a program presenter. Admission is ¥250 for adults and ¥150 for junior/ senior high school students, elementary school and younger are free.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the JR train to Shibuya Station and go out the Hachiko Plaza Exit. From Hachiko Plaza, walk up the street and you see the Seibu and OIONE signs on (between the 1st & 2nd TV counting from the right). At the second light the road will branch into a “Y” with an OIOI store in the middle of the branch. Bear to the left here. Follow this road straight to the end. The NHK Broadcasting Center is a complex of three buildings across the street straight ahead and to the left. Hours: 10am-6pm (enter before 5:30pm). Closed third Monday of each month (Tuesday, if Monday is a national holiday). Also closed December 25-31. Open every day in August. Telephone? Kristen Marriott 12/01
NHK Broadcast Museum
You know the Newseum in Washington, D.C.? This is the Japanese version. It has three floors of exhibits ranging from the first public radio transmitter used by NHK to the first TV camera they used, as well as old radios and many other historical items. One interesting display is the recording of Emperor Showa’s address to the nation announcing the end of World War II. Another fun room has a number of interactive components where you can pretend to use a teleprompter with a blue screen in the background to put yourself in another scene, and an area to practice sound effects for radio broadcasts.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: From Shinjuku take the Yamanote line south to Ebisu. Transfer to the Hibiya subway and go towards Hiroo (New Sanno). Two stops past Hiroo get off at Kamiyacho Station. Go out Exit 3 and turn right. Do not cross the intersection. Take a right at the first light. Immediately before the tunnel take the stairs on the left hand side of the road up to the museum entrance. 9:30am-4:30pm. Closed Mondays and at year-end. 2-1-1, Atago, Minato-ku, Tokyo 〒105-0002
Tel: 035-400-6900. www.nhk.or.jp/museum/english/main.html. Brian Marriott 11/01. Hours and address verified 2010.
This appears to be part of the Science Museum. Anybody know? If so, it may be closer to Takebashi or Kundanshita stations. See map at website below.
Any serious cyclist should enjoy the Bicycle Culture Center in Toranoman, near the American Embassy. Displays include early two-wheeled wonders as well as the latest and greatest. The tall narrow building contains an information room on the 3rd floor, a museum in the 2nd floor and an event hall on the 1st floor. A local route map with towns in “English” can be bought in the Display Gallery, in addition to books in Japanese about cycling in Japan. Admission is ¥600 for adults, ¥250-400 for children.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome/Chuo Line to Yotsuya, transfer to the Marunouchi subway and take it to one stop to Akasaka-Mitsuke. At Akasaka-Mitsuke, walk across the platform to the Ginza Line and go one stop to Toranomon. Try to get in the last car so that when you reach Toranomon, you can exit through the ticket booth and go up the stairs opposite to the street. Once above ground, walk (right) toward the NCR building past the Alitalia and other airline offices. Cross the street. Just past the NCR building, turn left on the narrow street with the gas station. Turn right on the second street. The building with the Bicycle Culture Center will be on your left. It’s known as Jitensha Kaikan No. 3. Postal address: Kagakugijutukan 2F Room I, 2-1 Kitanomaru koen Chiyodaku, Tokyo. 〒 Hours: 9:30am-4:50pm. Telephone: 03-3217-1231. www.cycle-info.bpaj.or.jp/english/learn/bcc.html. Teresa Negley. Liz Ruskin updated address, website and hours in 2010.
ShoppingWe need more write-ups for good shopping in Shibuya. Anybody?
This store started as the craft department of the Tokyu Department Store, but it has since become its own wonderous thing. Of course, the craft materials are top-notch. And it’s not just the girly stuff either. This is also a hardware store, with exotic wood, plexiglass holograms, leather tooling, craft wire of every hue and weight … . But check out the other departments: housewares, stationary & stickers, outdoor goods, bikes, drugs and cosmetics. It also has a gift store that carries yukata and other top-quality Japanese goods. It is similar to The Loft in its breadth of merchandise, but Hands caters more to the whole family, while The Loft seems a bit trendier and younger to me. Tip: You might want to bring you passport. The store website at the moment says “Customers who present a foreign passport can receive Tokyu Hands shopping coupons.” (The English version of the website is very helpful and has a good locater map, but for the hours and holiday closures you have to look on the Japanese site, which you can read through Google Translate.)
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Arrive at Shibuya Station and take the Hachiko Plaza exit. From Hachiko Plaza, cross the street and take the pedestrian lane just to the left of the huge 2nd-story Starbucks. Bear left where the lane splits, at a store called “Gem Kawano”. Keep going straight until you get to an intersection that has an ABC Mart and a McDonald’s. Turn right. Go one block and turn left, then, in a few meters, bear right. Tokyu Hands is straight up this street, one long block past a store called FrancFranc. (Shibuya is a warren of cute shopping streets, so there are many ways to get there. It is less than half a kilometer from the station to the store.)12-18 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Tel.: 03-5489-5111. Open 10-8:30 most days. Liz Ruskin, 2011.
Need an awesome Halloween costume? Party favors? Postcards? Furniture? Kitchen items? Whatever it is you need, The Loft most likely has it! Located across the street from The Disney Store in Shibuya, The Loft is a six-story department store that has a lot of everything. The basement has shoes, athletic equipment, swimming devices, and water toys. The first floor consists of Japanese fans, wind chimes, rubber stamps, wrapping paper, stuffed animals, candles in every color, hundreds of postcards and greeting cards, party goods, and Halloween party costumes. These are not your run-of-the-mill costumes though; they’re excellent and some are expensive. They have a sumo wrestler, ski bunny, witch, Robin Hood, nun, maid, etc. They also have a great selection of wigs, noses, glasses and bow ties (for clown costumes). Moving up to the second floor, you will find many kitchen items including dishes, furniture, and pillows. The third floor houses bathroom items, hangers, home supply items, wood and planters. On the fourth floor there are art, office and school supplies. The fifth floor has picture frames, puzzles, pictures, and books. Finally, on the top floor, there are clocks, watches, art deco items, umbrellas and a small restaurant. If you need it, it can be found here!Loft is similar to Tokyu Hands, but mavens say Loft is cooler. Both have several branches in Tokyo but their flagship stores are in Shibuya.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Ride the train to Shibuya Station. From Hachiko Plaza, walk up the street you see the Seibu and OIONE signs on (between the 1st & 2nd TV counting from the right). At the second light the road will branch into a “Y” with an OIOI store in the middle of the branch. Bear to the left, here. Cross to the left hand side of the road. The Disney Store and the Loft are next door to each other on the left hand side of the road across from the McDonalds and the KFC (they are separated by a brick pedestrian-only road). 21-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 〒150-0042. Hours: 10am-9pm. Tel. 03-3462-3807. Karen Ozment. Address, hours and phone number updated 2010.
The Disney Store
On a brick-lined street in Shibuya is a shop where Mickey, Minnie, Jasmine, Simba, Dopey, Winnie-the-Pooh and all of our other favorite Disney characters await our arrival to take them home! This three-story Disney Store carries the same products as it does in the United States: clothes, jewelry, figurines, stationery, stickers, books, videos, placemats, dishes, magnets, and toys for all ages. One interesting item that is found overseas is a small series of bilingual books, such as “ABC,” “Hurry Up,” “Good Morning,” and “Let’s Go.” Each book costs ¥700 and might make a nice gift for your children or for children you know in the States. Prices are similar for most products, except for books and videos, which are more expensive in Japan than in the U.S.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Ride the train to Shibuya Station. From Hachiko Plaza, walk up the street you see the Seibu and OIONE signs on (between the 1st & 2nd TV counting from the right). At the second light the road will branch into a “Y” with an OIOI store in the middle of the branch. Bear to the left, here. Cross to the left-hand side of the road. The Disney Store and the Loft will be next door to each other on the left hand side of the road across from the McDonalds and the KFC (they are separated by a brick pedestrian only road). Hours: 10-9 daily. Telephone: 03-3461-3932. Karen Ozment 10/94, directions updated 11/02
This is a great theme restaurant in Shibuya for adults (children may be scared). The staff is dressed as doctors, nurses, or prison inmates. Upon entering, two people are chosen to be handcuffed and let through the prison bars to your table in another room. The rooms are low-lit with medical curtains separating the tables. Alcoholic beverages range from beer in a bedpan to a strawberry-based “blood transfusion.” For a theme restaurant, we were surprised at how good the food was. The multi-cultural plates vary so much, sharing is a great option (like a tapas bar). We had kielbasa with sauerkraut, penne with mushrooms, pork loins, and beef stirfry.
The staff puts on an exciting show every night in Japanese, fun even if you don’t have an interpreter friend along to narrate details. 6:30pm Inmate/inpatient escapes; 8pm ER Surgery Show 1; 10:30pm ER Surgery Show 2; 2am (Fri & Sat nights only) Mystery Show.
Open 5pm-midnight Sun-Thurs, 5pm-4am Fri & Sat. The entry fee is ¥600 per person while meals range ¥800-1500 with drinks ¥680-880. There is an English menu and western-style restrooms. For more info, call 03-3770-7100 or check the Japanese language website http://alcatraz.hy-system.com/
Directions: From Fussa Station take the JR Ome/Chuo Line to Shinjuku and change to the Yamanote Line, getting off at Shibuya. Exit the station at the 5-way intersection and look for Building 109, it will be on your left at a cross-roads. Cross the street and pass Building 109, staying to the left of it. Turn right onto the small street before the 7-Eleven. Walk a short way and you will see the Harvest Building (2-13-5 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku) on the right. Alcatraz E.R. is on the second floor. Rachel Bliss, 2007
There is an excellent Greek restaurant in Shibuya, a wonderful way to wrap up a day of sightseeing and shopping downtown. The Aegean is one of only a handful of Greek restaurants in the Tokyo area. The home-style cooking menu abounds in olive oil, garlic, fresh salad, yogurt, and feta cheese recipes. And don’t forget the wine! Greek retsina wine is a compliment to any dish. However the quality doesn’t come cheap; a dinner for two will cost you about ¥10,000. Try the set menu, which includes an appetizer, salad, main dish, dessert, and coffee. It’s the best way to experience true Greek cooking, short of hopping on a plane to Athens. The interior is small, but comfortable and cozy. Murals line the plaster walls, and the restaurant is full of the owner’s original sculptures.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the JR Yamanote Line to Shibuya Station. Go out the East Exit, and look for the Kenwood sign and dome of the planetarium across the street in front of you. Turn right, and cross the intersection via the walking bridge onto Meiji Dori (Ave.). Aegean will be a short distance ahead on your left. It is on the basement level, so look for the sign on the sidewalk.
B1, Oriental Building, 3-18-3 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Hours? Telephone: 03-3407-1783. Kristen Marriott, date?
The food can be described in two words: predictable and reasonable. You get free chips and salsa. How about a Tecate with lime (¥650) or maybe a Corona (¥700)? Do shots? There’s a selection of Cuervo (¥500-1000). Taco plates (¥780-1180) have two or three tacos with beans and salsa. Enchiladas and burritos (¥880-1080) are popular, perhaps because of the generous portions. The Outrageously Chimichanga (¥l280) is a beef and rice mixture fried inside a huge flour tortilla, served with a special ranchero sauce, guacamole, and sour cream. Three of us shared this tasty treat and there was still some left over. Fajitas (¥l780-2480) come in chicken, beef, shrimp, and combination varieties. For beef lovers, a must-try are “San Antonio Fajitas” (¥2980) where generous strips of top quality beef are grilled at your table, to your taste, with tomato wedges, onion, and yellow pepper chunks, then combined in soft flour tortillas with the usual accompaniments. Combination plates (¥l480-1880) feature a mix and match of dishes, plus soup and salad. There are also two child plates (tacos or quesadillas for ¥580). Don’t forget dessert! Ice cream (¥380), Kahlua mousse, Mexican cheesecake (¥450), banana chimichanga (¥4810), and fried ice cream (¥480).
DIRECTIONS: There are three locations in Tokyo: Nishi-Kasia (03-3804-0704), Eifuku-cho (03-5376-7611) and Roppongi (03-5466-7917) The last location is close to the New Sanno. It is across the street from Exit A-5 at Omotesando Subway station. From Hiroo, take Hibiya Line four stops to Hibiya, switch to the Chiyado Line (green) and go five stops to Omotesando. The restaurant is on the third floor of the La Mia Building, which also houses boutiques. Hours: 11am-11:30pm daily; bar opens at 5pm.