There’s nothing quite like the utterly frenzied yet organised chaos of Shibuya Crossing, one of the top attractions in Tokyo. Its nickname, the ‘Scramble’, perfectly sums up the nature of this jumbled intersection that sees thousands of people pass through it every day.
The crossing has long been a trademark of the district alongside Hachiko, and the junction’s foot traffic is only increasing. For some, navigating the crossing can be disorienting: when the light changes, it feels as though there are swarms of people coming towards you from all directions. For others, it's just another part of the daily commute. Whether you're there to capture the action with a camera in hand or just in the area waiting for friends, trust us — the view is better from up here.
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A playground of eateries, exhibitions spaces, Shibuya-style clothing stores and even VR attractions, Magnet encompasses all the fun things that make Shibuya what it is. The top floor, dubbed ‘Mag’s Park’ is an event space and also a permanent observation deck where you can get a good look at all the Shibuya Crossing action below.
For safety reasons, drones and selfie sticks aren’t allowed on the deck, but never fear – you can still get an epic photo with the overhead camera that will catch a bird’s-eye shot of you and part of the crossing (pictured top). The photo op will set you back ¥1,000 on top of the ¥300 admission free, so you’ll have to be extra creative with your pose to get the most out of it.
Catch the best views of Tokyo at this 360° open-air observation deck at the rooftop of Shibuya Scramble Square. Shibuya Sky is approximately 230 metres above ground and is the highest point in the district of Shibuya. The ‘Sky Edge’, a corner where you can look down at the cityscape below (especially the famous scramble crossing) without any obstruction, is a particularly good photo spot that provides a panoramic view of the city.
In addition to the breathtaking views, the rooftop also features hammocks for cloud watching and an observation compass to help you identify major landmarks in the distance such as Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Stadium and even Mt Fuji (on a clear day).
The best things in life are free: the bridge connecting Shibuya Mark City shopping centre with Shibuya Station's Toyoko Store is a great spot to see the iconic crossing without opening your wallet. While the concourse is usually busy with commuters moving briskly to catch their next train, you’ll be able to take a long moment to press against the glass during off-peak hours and watch up to 3,000 people cross the Scramble every 90-second interval.
Coffee and people watching go hand in hand, so if you manage to nab a seat at this perpetually busy Starbucks, you’re in for a treat. Both tourists and long-time Tokyoites find it difficult to resist capturing a time-lapse of the mobs crossing the intersection while sitting at the counter with their drinks. The nearest Metro exit is also a popular spot for buskers and street dancers after sundown, so you might glimpse some talents worthy of your attention while you’re there. The coffee shop is part of an eight-storey Tsutaya, so if you can’t immediately find a seat, it’s worth browsing the selection of books, CDs and games until a space becomes available.
The L’Occitane Cafe overlooks the Shibuya Scramble so you can observe the chaos below as you sip from dainty tea cups or enjoy a light salad lunch from the comfort of this ochre yellow retreat. The cafe was produced by Pierre Herme, so in addition to light lunches, there’s also a selection of classic French sweets crafted by skilled patissieres, including mille-feuille, macarons and crème brûlée. The L’Occitane store is on the ground floor of the building, so why not give yourself a quick spritz of floral mist and test some hand cream before you head back out to brave the crowds.
More great views in Tokyo
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Sky-high views are better with a cocktail in hand. Check out these rooftop venues that serve food as well as drinks to be mesmerised by the city's night-time skyline