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TRAVEL | What to Do


Article | Dayna Hannah

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Tokyo’s skyline just got a whole lot shinier! If you’ve gone to Shibuya in the past five years, you might have noticed an ambitious construction project. In November 2019, the scaffolding came down, and the new Shibuya Scramble Square skyscraper opened to the delight of Tokyoites everywhere. Now, there’s a new item to add to your “Things to Do in Shibuya” list.

Shibuya is internationally famous for its intersection outside of the Hachiko Exit. The pedestrian signals turn green on all sides at the same time, and as many as 2500 people cross in all directions. As much fun as it is to experience, it’s even better to see from above. Now, you can do it from 230 meters high!

Towering at 47 floors, Shibuya Scramble Square is the tallest building in the area. You won’t have any trouble spotting it once you’re close to Hachiko Memorial Park. Like many highrises in Japan, it serves several functions at once.

In the basement, you’ll find a Kinokuniya supermarket. Among their products, you’ll spot seasonal international and domestic fare. If you want a small reprieve, you can enjoy sangrias at their cafe and bar or fresh pastries at the bakery. They also occasionally hold events and food fairs.

If you’ve ever been inside of a Japanese department store, you might be familiar with “depachikas." The lower floors of these kinds of establishments often have deli-like booths selling foodstuff souvenirs that you can take home. Shibuya Scramble Square is no different, but the slick and polished first floor has a remarkable selection of notable shops. In particular, stop by the Mori Yoshida Paris patisserie for the Mont Blancs, and the Horihuchi Fruit Farm (堀内果実園) for preserves.

The 2nd through 9th floors house swanky shops selling internationally-familiar and Japan-exclusive brands. Among them, you can find names like Kate Spade, Swaroski, and Converse. Or, you can explore former model Hiroko Hayashi’s designs, get competitive prices on shoes at ABC Mart, or browse cute accessories at A-Jolie.

The upper floors have lifestyle goods shops, and you can have a meal on the twelfth and thirteenth floors. The most attractive part of these restaurants is their large windows that look out onto Shibuya’s scenery. Speaking of which, let’s get into the real reason why Shibuya Scramble Square is a must-visit for travelers.

If you don’t want to shop, you can skip the crowds and go directly to the 14th floor. There are elevators inside, but the 213 stores can get so busy, you might have to wait a while before you can board. Instead, take the outdoor elevator to the left of the main entrance.

Shibuya Tokyo; Shibuya Scramble Square; Sky Gate Elevator; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog;

On the 14th floor, you’ll find the Sky Gate ticket office for the rooftop observatory. Upon purchase, you’ll receive a reservation time for when you can proceed to the upper levels. If you have a tight schedule, you can book your tickets and entrance times in advance online.

On your way up, you’ll pass futuristic installations that’ll stimulate your curiosity and imagination. The elevator shoots you up to the 45th floor, where you’ll find the souvenir shop selling goods related to Shibuya and Tokyo’s lifestyle and culture. The adjacent escalator takes you to the indoor observation area called the Sky Gallery.

The Sky Gallery has floor-to-ceiling windows around its perimeter and high-tech art installations. There are both interactive displays and exhibits that use real-time statistics related to the Shibuya neighborhood. You can visualize how many people are walking across Shibuya Crossing, how many trains are at Shibuya Station, and the current weather forecast. If you’re feeling peckish, there is a cafe with trendy decor and plush chairs as well.

Shibuya Tokyo; Shibuya Scramble Square; Coin Locker with Coin Return; Sky Gallery; All Japan Tours; Japan Travel Blog;

Before you can go on to the 46th floor’s observation deck, you must go through a safety check. The open-air rooftop of the Shibuya Sky Stage doesn’t have any coverage from the elements, so you’ll have to put any loose items like hats or sunglasses into a locker. The lockers require a 100 yen deposit, but you’ll get your money back when you retrieve your things.

Note that Shibuya Scramble Square prohibits camera equipment like tripods outside. Also, if you’re carrying a handbag, the staff will loan you a strap to attach it to your person.

When you go through the glass door exit, you’ll see the steep staircase and escalator up to the top. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t handle heights very well, be aware that there isn’t a railing or other border between you and the tall windows. Though the glass reaches far over your head, you might still get that icky tickle in your feet.

The Sky Stage gives you a 360° view of Tokyo. You can take in the sights of Tokyo Tower and SkyTree as you relax on white couches near the windows. Or, lay back on one of the hammocks to watch the clouds go by. To get the full experience, try to get to Sky Gate just before sunset so that you can watch the world go by during the day and the city’s neon lights dancing through the night.

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