05Must do Walking Tour in SHIBUYA
Shibuya is one of the most well-known parts of Tokyo, so it was no surprise to me when I heard that the tour was very popular for guests visiting Japan. This tour introduces great places to eat and interesting shops in Shibuya to guests so that they can spend time there after the tour is over. What makes this tour so great is the amazing tour guide, who spoke to each of the guests as much as she could and made a point to appeal to each of their interests. I got the sense that base route for the tour was likely the same every time, but the different shops she introduced and how in depth she introduced them was based on the interest of the guests participating that day.
Exploring the area around Shibuya’s famous Scramble cross walk
I arrived to the meet up spot a little early, which was at Shibuya’s info center in front of the station. The info center is a renovated old train car, and as I sat there waiting for the rest of the group, I read some of the pamphlets about Shibuya. The tour guide popped out of the conductor’s seat about 15 minutes before the start of the tour to hold up a sign for participants to gather. After the group got together, the tour started with quick self-introductions from the guide and each of the participants. We were each handed a map of Shibuya with the route we would take handwritten onto them, and the guide proceeded to explain the flow of the tour. As the info center is located right in front of the Hachiko statue that marks the spot where the famous story happened, it was only natural that the tour starts off with an explanation about Hachiko. The guide told us the story about how a Japanese professor become friends with a dog he named Hachiko, and how Hachiko waited at the train station every day at the same spot even after the professor passed away. Hachiko became a hero around Japan for this, and the erected a bronze statue in his honor after he passed away.
Getting the best view of Shibuya
After learning about Hachiko, our group moved to a skyscraper near Shibuya station from where we were able to get a better view of Shibuya. Everyone took pictures from the windows of the famous scramble crosswalk in Shibuya. There was also a large model of Shibuya showing where and when different skyscrapers were planned to go up. The guide was very knowledgeable about all the buildings and answered all our questions. After we left, we walked back towards the station, but made a sharp turn into an alley boarding the train tracks. This alley was called what translated to “Drunkards Alley” in Japanese and was lined with countless small bars. Many of the bars could only hold up to seven or eight guests, and the guide explained that many of the customers would stay in the bars for 30-50 minutes and chat with the bartenders. Many visitors also bar-hop to visit multiple bars.
Learning about the best places to shop and eat
The tour guide took us through the heart of Shibuya, recommending to us several places to shop and eat. She brought us to a variety of different shops, including a cat café, the famous Ichiran ramen chain, and a building containing three floors of meat-oriented restaurants. While we didn’t actually enter any of the shops, the one place we did spend a little time at was the giant Don Quijote, where she introduced her recommended souvenir, matcha kit-kat bars. She explained that kit-kats are pronounced “kitto-katto” by Japanese people, which sounds like a Japanese phrase that means something along the lines of “likely to win,” and that is why Japanese people like to eat them. I didn’t end up buying any kit-kats, but I did go back to the tower of meat (I had Korean barbeque for dinner.) She also recommended her favorite ramen place, which for some reason wasn’t open that day. I ended up going back the next day I opted to go back to the ramen place which proved to be amazing. All in all, the tour was a quick and easy way to learn about different ways to enjoy Shibuya with the help of a great guide and the company of other tourists enjoying Japan. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to make of the most out of their time the want to spend in the area.