With 3,000 people crossing at peak times Shibuya Crossing is an iconic Japan landmark and one of the best photo spots in Tokyo! Dubbed the cross roads of the world, it’s a heady mix of bright lights and chaotic crowds set against the instantly recognisable maze of zebra crossings that line the street below. Shibuya Crossing is a must see for all photographers in Tokyo and we spent many hours there in search of the best photo locations. We’ve put together this list of our 5 top photo locations in Shibuya: it’s our guide on where to take the best pictures of Shibuya Crossing. Enjoy!
Shibuya Crossing Photography Tip: our favourite time to visit Shibuya was after dark for both photography and the Shibuya experience. The crossing comes to life when the neon signs illuminate the crossing and Tokyo residents fill the streets after the working day ends.
Sim Card & Internet
One of the best investments you can make for your trip to Japan is to buy/rent a sim card or 4G hotspot. This will give you internet access while on the go throughout the cities in Japan, where free public wi-fi is extremely limited.
We have used both sim cards and 4G hotspots during our trips to Japan. A sim card is perfect if you just have your phone – just check the sim card is compatible with your phone The 4G hotspots are great if you have multiple devices that need internet or if you’re travelling a group. They also avoid any compatibility issues with installing a sim card.
We used the Klook app to order our sim cards for our last trip. The app is great as you can order in advance and pick up on arrival or from various departure cities.
- The best 4G hotspot on offer is provided by URoaming with unlimited data – check prices now!
- The best sim card is from Docomo (who we used) – check prices now!
1 | From Street Level
Photographing Shibuya Crossing from street level means throwing yourself into the ever present crowds that scramble across its streets. We set up our tripod and tried out a few street level angles at the crossing: our favourite street level photo spots were directly outside Starbucks and on a traffic island between Shibuya Station and L’Occitane. Both were perfect for capturing long exposures. Just be careful to stay aware of the other pedestrians and the traffic should the lights turn red!
Shibuya Crossing Photography Tip: Shibuya Crossing is instantly recognisable as a Tokyo and Japan icon and has made appearances in movies such as Lost in Translation and Fast and Furious and even made an appearance in the One Direction video for One Way or Another.
2 | Starbucks
Directly overlooking Shibuya Crossing, the first floor of the glass fronted Starbucks Shibuya Tsutaya is the perfect location for a classic Shibuya shot. Grab a coffee and a snack at the ground floor café and make a beeline for the first floor where the window seats offer unobstructed views of the entire crossing. While Starbucks is perfect for daytime pics it can be difficult to capture the perfect shot after dark – to avoid a glare from the lighting and reflections of the tinted windows you need to have your camera lens as close to touching the pane of glass as possible.
Shibuya Crossing Photography Tip: The Shibuya Starbucks gets really busy – it’s a popular coffee stop as well as attracting Shibuya sightseers eager to experience its incredible views. Make sure to budget some time to wait for one of the highly coveted and limited window seats as there’s likely to be a queue.
Our Photography Gear
3 | L’Occitane Café
On the west side of the crossing, the flagship store of L’Occitane houses a Shibuya Crossing hidden gem with its 3rd floor café. A host allocates seating in the café resulting in a more relaxed atmosphere and the flavoured iced teas are a real treat. The window seats in L’Occitane are highly coveted so securing one might involve a wait.
Shibuya Crossing Photography Tip: There are some trees on the sidewalk in front of the L’Occitane building which can obstruct the views of the crossing depending on where you sit.
Where to stay in Tokyo
We had visits to Tsukiji Fish Market and Sushi Dai on our Tokyo wish list and opted to stay within walking distance of the Fish Market given they both required 2am starts. If you want to dedicate some hours to capturing Shibuya both at day and night and from different vantage points we’d recommend including a night in the Shibuya Excel Hotel, Tokyu and take advantage of its incredible views of the Crossing.
- Shibuya Excel Hotel, Tokyu: The 25th floor restaurant level offers the best views of Shibuya and the location, beside Shibuya station, is excellent for exploring the city – Check prices here!
- Tokyu Stay Tsukiji: The closest hotel to the Tsukiji fish market, Tokyu Stay Tsukiji is a great option for visiting the Tuna Auction and Sushi Dai. You are literally across the street! Check prices here!
- Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel: A solid and modern hotel option. It’s a 10 minute walk from the fish market but also really central for seeing the rest of the city. Check prices here!
4 | Shibuya Station
Shibuya Station is an excellent option for a free viewing spot of Shibuya Crossing. An indoor walkway, located on the second and third floors, between the Yamanote Line Tamagawa exit and the Keio Inokashira Line exit offers views of the crossing through its glass walls. The walkway is en route to the Shibuya Mark City complex.
Shibuya Crossing Photography Tip: Shibuya is a busy station so be careful not to get in the way of commuters while admiring the views!
Shibuya Crossing Photography Tip: On exiting Shibuya Station don’t forget to check out the statue of Hachikō, the loyal dog who awaited his dead master’s return for nine years, nine months and fifteen days at Shibuya.
5 | Shibuya Excel Hotel, Tokyu
The views of Shibuya Crossing from the 25th floor of the Excel Hotel are immense but, in recent years, the hotel has restricted access to hotel and restaurant guests only. We managed a brief visit to the 25th floor and the high vantage point makes for one of the most incredible views of the crossing.
Shibuya Crossing Photography Tip: if you really want to capture the incredible views from the Excel Hotel consider booking a room, even if only for one night, as Shibuya is an awesome place to spend a night and the breakfast views from the restaurant will take your breath away – check latest prices here