Shibuya District Tokyo And A Dog’s Tale

Updated: Apr 1, 2022 @

shibuya district shibuya crossing with people
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Said to be the busiest in the world. The Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo.

Shibuya district is one of the special wards in Tokyo and is most definitely worth checking out on any visit to this amazingly humongous city.  The Shibuya train station itself is worthy of a visit as it is one of the biggest and busiest ones in Japan.

It feels like you are in a giant mall rather than a train station with its many eateries and retail stores. It is also famous for the story of Hachiko, the loyal dog. This was the major reason l wanted to visit Shibuya. I am a sucker for dogs.

Shibuya District: A special Ward:

shibuya district at night
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I don’t think it would be too far-fetched to say Shibuya Japan is a city within a city :-). We ducked into the Bic store to check out cameras when it started raining.

Shibuya Tokyo:

The Shibuya Tokyo district actually started out as the grounds of a castle owned by the Shibuya family in the 11th century. Once the railway terminal was built, the area quickly expanded and it became a special ward of Tokyo 1932. The current population is just over 221,000 people in an area of just 9.3 miles!!! 🙂 😉 .

We were lucky that we had a direct line into Shibuya from our AirBnB rental in Ikebukuro ( a delightful typical Japanese house among the locals. We loved it and recommend it highly) and the whole trip took less than twenty minutes. To say the station is overwhelming would be putting it mildly :-).

There are at least ten exits from the station. A wrong one would put you in a completely different section of Tokyo, so it is extremely important to know your exits, not just at this station, but at all of them.

The Shibuya Dog:

To see the dog statue, you want Shibuya Station Hachiko exit. There are a lot of policemen in the station and it is best to ask and make sure you are going the right way. Here are a couple of things Shibuya is famous for.

Shibuya itself would be an amazing place to stay since you would be right in the middle of all the action. For more inspiration on areas to stay as a tourist, be sure and check this awesome post about other recommended neighborhoods to stay in Tokyo.

Hackie Statue: (Hachi true story)

As there was a long line, you had to get in quick and out..
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What to do in Shibuya? Visit Hachiko! As there was a long line outside of the Shibuya station exit where the statue is located, you had to get in quick and out.. It’s worth taking your picture with the Hachiko dog.

Find hotels near Shibuya Station here

Hachiko is the name of an Akita dog that was born in November of 1923 on a farm. It is one of the most famous, faithful dog stories. A professor at the University of Tokyo adopted him at the age of one.

For the next year or so,  the dog would wait patiently for his master to return from work at the station exit daily. The professor dies at work suddenly one day and does not make an appearance at the station.

For the next nine years, nine months, and fifteen days, Hachiko loyally waited for his master’s return, until the very last day of his life at the age of twelve.

shibuya district hachiko collage
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The real Hachiko. Source. The famous Hachiko statue is located just outside the Shibuya station.

Related Reading: Asakusa Temple

One of the professor’s students followed the dog to the professor’s former home and wrote a newspaper article. This led to commuters bringing the dog scraps of food and fame for the area as people visited man’s best friend. He was cremated and buried next to his master.

A bronze statue of Hachiko was unveiled in 1934 in what is now the Hachiko exit. The Hachiko square is a really popular and busy meeting for young and old alike. It was really crowded when we got there and l was more than happy to wait my turn and get a picture of this dog. For sure my dogs would have gone with the first person who gave them a scrap 🙂 .

If you haven’t seen the Richard Gere movie about this dog’s life, you should, but only when you are ready to have a good cry. I loved the movie, but can’t watch it again. I tear up just thinking about it.

The Movie. Yeah..the trailer is not the best, but the movie is awesome.

 

Shibuya points of interest:

Shibuya Crossing: (Places to see in Shibuya)

Insane scene at the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo!
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Insane scene at Shibuya scramble crossing! Shibuya crossing is definitely the highlight of a visit to Shibuya 109.

Related Reading: Tokyo Impressions

One thing the Shibuya district is famous for is the Shibuya crossing that is located closest to the Hachiko exit. It has what is known as a scramble crossing. Traffic is stopped in all directions to allow people to walk all the intersections. I have to tell you, it is freaking unbelievable to see.

There must have been quite a few thousand people crossing when we went which was on a week night. It was kind of cool to be part of this mass exodus from one side to the other. A lot of people were clicking away, or shooting video.

Very easy to lose sight of each other if you’re not careful. It reminds you of Times Square in New York in a way, with its neon lights and huge TV screens. This is supposedly the busiest intersection in the world. I believe it. The Shibuya Crossing has made an appearance in popular movies like Resident Evil, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift and Lost in Translation.

So many stores in Shibuya...thousands!
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Shrubby shopping. So many stores…thousands! Shibuya 109 is one of their most famous and they have so many stores there.

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What to do in Shibuya: (Must visit places in Shibuya Tokyo)

Shibuya District has a lot of other things going for it. Other Shibuya places of interest include:

  •   Sibuya is center of the IT industry so you can check out some awesome companies.
  • Yoyogi Park, a former training base of the Imperial Japanese Army and was later where the Olympic athletes resided in 1964 (Olympic Village).
  • Meiji Shinto Shrine. A visit to the shrine is one of the best things to do in Shibuya.
  • Harajuku district. This is the center of Japanese youth culture. This is another area that is worth visiting. There are high-end retail brands like Ralph Lauren and thrift stores all co-existing on the same street. Gwen Stefani was intrigued enough with some of the Harajuku girls to make them her backup dancers. We saw some, but l was expecting tons of them, but l guess the whole place is more gentrified now. Plenty of tourists with fanny packs 🙂 outnumbering them. The Shibuya shopping district is massive, so allow a day to peruse the area. Takeshita street in Harajuku has a lot of trendy cafes and restaurants and of course Shibuya shopping.
  • Became the first district in Japan and East Asia to recognize same sex partnerships as of 2015. How’s that for progressive!
  • Roppongi for great art and the best nightlife.
  • Shinjuku Gyo-en gardens and greenhouse. A lovely way to spend a day and enjoy the fresh air.
  • Tokyo mosque – Ottoman style mosque built in the 1930’s. A tour will be a highlight of a Shibuya district visit.
shibuya district harajuku street scene
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Shibuya points of interest include Harajuku area on a Saturday afternoon..look at the number of people. The crowd went all the way down on both sides  and side streets :-). It was exhausting but fun.

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Shibuya Harajuku girl in Tokyo Japan
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Harajuku fun girl in Shibuya. I think she was advertising her show, we didn’t understand, but she was kind enough to pose.

 

harajuku street in Shibuya 109 district
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Harajuku in Shibuya 109 district of Tokyo.

 

Harajuku girls enjoying their day. #tokyo #japan #harajuku #japan
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Harajuku girls enjoying their day in Shibuya 109 district..

We had a lot of fun discovering the Shibuya Harajuku area and Shibuya crossing. You could easily spend a month in Tokyo and just barely scratch the surface. I really hope we get a chance to go back and visit this awesome place. It was all l could do to drag Federico away from the Bic camera Shibuya.

Where to eat in Shibuya:

Some of the top restaurants in Shibuya include:

  • Ichiran Shibuya: Home to some of the best Ramen in Tokyo. Very small place with just counter seats, so no dawdling. They only do the classic Kontkotsu Ramen and it’s very, very tasty. Th best part is that they are open 24 hours, so you can eat whenever hunger strikes.

Address: 1-22-7 Jinnan Sibuya-ku Tokyo-to

  •  Ghenki sushi for conveyor belt sushi dining. This is a fun place to eat. You get to grab your sushi from a constantly moving array of fresh and delicious sushi. A great experience. It is a chain, but definitely great food.

Address: 24-8 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0042, Japan

Ghenki Sushi Hours: Monday – Friday 11am – 11:30pm

Saturday and Sunday: 10:30am – 11:30pm

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What do you think of Shibuya? Could you live there? I most certainly could not. It’s way too busy for my liking, but it was fun to visit. Do you have a dog? If so, is it as loyal as Hachiko?

 

 

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32 thoughts on “Shibuya District Tokyo And A Dog’s Tale”

  1. Love the dog story, even Spanky wouldn’t be that loyal 🙂

    For sure we’ll see this area when visiting in November. Lots of people though!

    Frank (bbqboy)

    Reply
    • Haha! I doubt if l could be that loyal either..definitely not in the winter 🙂 . You will love the area for sure, and yep..it is insanely crowded, but enjoyable for a little while. You should consider the rental too..great area, not touristy but still close to the huge Ikebukuro station.

      Reply
  2. I remember reading about that dog as a child in a children’s encyclopedia I had. It has really stuck with me and I got teary-eyed just reading about that part again. So what’s the longest you have ever been “home” at one time?

    Reply
    • I got teary-eyed reading about it again. Such loyalty. I cried buckets when l watched the movie. Haha! I think the longest lately is this current break. We’ve been “home” since June 6, so it will be almost 5 weeks at one time :-). Insane right? We’re going to run out of places soon ;-).

      Reply
  3. I really need to visit Tokyo one day! I can’t believe the mass of people walking the shibuya crossing. It must be a bit scary to be surrounded by so many people. I don’t think i could live in there but it surely is a must see.

    Reply
    • I felt the same way. I couldn’t live there, but it was nice to be part of it for a day or 2. There are massive crowds. You could just stand there and would get moved to the other side. Tokyo is awesome. I hope you get to visit too :-).

      Reply
  4. Fascinating culture & sights. I love how you immerse yourself in places you visit. I saw the movie Hatch but had no idea it was based on a Japanese story. I need to find out more & most definitely about Harajaku.
    Thousands of people crossing the road would give me the heebie jeebies! Then again, I avoid crowds:-)

    Reply
    • It certainly is fascinating. It is just so humongous, it would have been futile to rush through trying to see everything. It was much better to enjoy some pieces fully which is more the way we like to travel. A mix of touristy with a bit of local living to get an overall picture. Yes, the brave dog Hachiko was real. They actually kept his fur and was stuffed and he sits at a museum. Harajuku is insanely packed..insane..If you have claustrophobia, best to avoid on a weekend..haha. Thousands. It’s surreal, but cool.

      Reply
  5. Superb! I love crowds and it seems like those places were built for me. You need a lifetime to explore all the shops in that small area, that if you don’t miss the exit and pick the wrong one out of the ten… which certainly opens up to a similar, but different world 🙂

    The story of Hachiko is also very impressive. I remember that when I watched Haci a few years ago, I was really impressed. Beautiful and shows that sometimes animals offer more than some humans…

    Reply
    • Oh, l love that. Animals offer more than humans. So true.. unconditional love is awesome and a reason why l prefer my dogs to a shitload of people :-), even though l doubt they would wait years for me. Now, you should see them run when the carer comes to pick them up, they don’t even look back ;-). Loving crowds, you would definitely enjoy this and pretty much every area of Tokyo. You definitely don’t want to miss your exit, walking back might be over a mile underground ;-(. Yep C! Tokyo was made for you. 🙂

      Reply
  6. I loved the story of Hachiko and it sounds like an excellent reason to make a pilgrimage to the Shibuya district which has definitely seen some changes since the professor’s time. The district might send me into a massive culture shock shutdown but it sounds like a place to visit ONCE (I really did love Times Square) just to experience the thousands of people going in all directions, the flashing signs, multitude of stores and the chaos and confusion. Has me thinking it would be an awesome place to people watch if you could just find a place to stand! Anita

    Reply
    • “If you could just find a place to stand” – Exactly. If you notice, there is like a slab of cement where people are perched so they can get a photo or film, which is what Fede tried to do, but there are quite a few people. Inside the station, there is a vantage point to watch it through the glass window from above, but it is like a disco there…packed with so many young people..like 10 deep so it’s no use as you can’t see. It’s fun to experience once, but surely l wouldn’t want it on a daily basis. Yes, l had to see the statue as l loved the story of him and the professor. I saw a picture of the area from those times, it sure does look different.

      Reply
  7. Well a dog is called the mans best friend, not for nothing. I remember watching the movie twice and crying both the times.

    Reply
    • True, they do give unconditional love. Yeah…cried like a baby as well 🙂

      Reply
    • Thank you so much for the kind words :-). Japan had never been on my radar either and we wouldn’t have gone had it not been for the cheap fare :-). Now, l want to go back!!!

      Reply
  8. I’ve heard about Hachiko’s story. That’s why I absolutely LOVE dogs. They’re so loving and loyal. You don’t think your dogs would stick around for you? Lol! We definitely hope to visit Japan someday soon and will definitely visit the Shibuya District when we go even though I’m averse to large crowds. When in Rome…right?

    Reply
    • Yep! When in Rome.. :-). No, seriously, l don’t think they would be that loyal..haha! first person with food and they would be gone. The story is so touching. You would have to do the crossing at least once when you go. It was really cool 🙂

      Reply
  9. Hachiko was indeed a man’s best friend, I had not heard of this lovely story before. Few years ago my sister’s dog was taken away from her, she tought that she had lost him for ever, but 3 months later somehow he managed to escape and find his way home, he was tired and looked very skinny, but was otherwise healthy, needless to say that my sister was so delighted. Tokyo is a fascinating city I would love to visit it one day.

    Reply
    • Wow! I can’t believe your sister’s dog made it back after 3 months. That is determination and devotion. Your sister must have been so thrilled. Hackie’s story is so moving, and l swear the movie made me cry so much, l thought Richard Gere did a very good job. I’m not a huge fan of his, but lately l have liked his stuff. I am so sure you would love Tokyo, and Japan as a whole :-).

      Reply
  10. I’m headed there in Sept. This has probably been the most overwhelming trip I’ve tried to plan. Normally by now I’d have everything booked but there’s sooooo much to do and see in Tokyo. I think I’m gonna try to book your BNB recommendation. Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
    • I am so excited for you. You’re right, planning it all is pretty overwhelming. It is so huge that making up your mind is mind blowing. You will not regret that BNB place. It is literarily a 4 minute walk to the nearest metro stop or a 12-15 minute walk to the big Ikebukuro station (where the train comes into directly from Narita airport if that’s the one you’re coming from). Let me know if l can help in any way…we did Tokyo and Kyoto (you can take 1/2 hr train ride from Kyoto to Osaka for the day if you have time). It’ll be great :-).

      Reply
  11. I’d be on sensory overload! The NYC Subway scared me with my girls, I don’t think I could handle this one. I’ll just keep reading your stories and experience the world that way. ????????

    Reply
    • Haha! Sounds good! We welcome armchair travelers. I have to admit that it can be intimidating as there are thousands. Coming out from the train station at Harajuku and looking down the long street which is on a sloe kind of so you can see down, the street is longer than a mile and l don’t know if you get a feel from the picture, the sidewalks are just packed! as far as the eye can see. Exciting and intimidating at once. NYC subway is a beast as well, l was not fond of it at all either :-).

      Reply
  12. My travels have yet to carry me to Japan, but I’m really chomping at the bit to visit. I’ve seen so many pictures of this famous crossing and I’m excited to just take it all in…although I’ll have to overcome my disdain for huge crowds! LOL But I live in NYC so I’ve got plenty of practice!

    Reply
    • Oh yeah..you have plenty of practice living in NYC! Will probably be even less scary..haha! I’ve been in Times Square for New Year’s eve and that was always insane. This crossing is really cool and one of the many things l enjoyed in Japan. I hope you get to visit :-).

      Reply
  13. I’m from NYC so I’m used to the city life however I’m not in the midst of Time Square or anything. I’m down for a visit but not sure if I’d live there but Tokyo seems popping

    Reply
    • It certainly is popping as you put it! That city is alive all the time :-). I would love to live in Japan, maybe not quite in the city..way too crazy, but it is a bit too expensive..well, more than a bit :-).

      Reply
  14. So funny you posted this because I was recently discussing places I wanted to visit and this was high on my list! Now I want to go even more!!!!

    Reply
    • You should definitely make it happen. Japan wasn’t even really on my list. Thank God for the cheap fare we took advantage of. You would love it for sure :-).

      Reply
  15. Waiting (im)patiently for your next adventure complete with colourful pictures of beautiful sights & delicious food! ;-D
    Hope you are good and enjoying the summer. We here in UK have had more days of showers than sunshine:-( but the Brexit movie is keeping us distracted. Lol

    Reply
    • Haha! It’s so good to know that you are waiting impatiently for more pictures, even though l know it’s really the food you are waiting for ;-)! It’s coming, just a bit distracted with the actual traveling..Enjoying the summer so far on our getaway. I will post about it soon, promise. Shocked about Brexit, but l have a feeling it’s going to work out in the end.. I hope 🙂 ;-).

      Reply

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