Tall buildings, with many people bustling across the intersection... this "Shibuya Scramble Crossing" is truly a representative place that embodies "Tokyo". 

Shibuya became known as the "city for youth" after the opening of the PARCO shopping mall in 1973, which brought together youth fashion brands. Not only for shopping, it naturally became a gathering place for people pursuing various dreams, leading to the development of art and music scenes. With the addition of art museums and live houses, Shibuya now captivates not just the youth but also adults.

Since the 2000s, a decades-long redevelopment project has been underway, accelerating Shibuya's transformation and evolution. With many people gathering, Shibuya is filled with izakaya pubs and bars that bustle from morning to night.

Drinking Culture in Japan

What image comes to mind regarding Japan's drinking culture? The Japanese actually drink quite a lot.
While known for being diligent and working late hours, after a solid day's work, it's common for Japanese office workers to go out drinking with colleagues. 

Not only is it a way to relieve stress, but many great ideas have been born in such settings, contributing to Japan's economic development! So, Japanese cities are filled with izakaya pubs and bars offering "affordable drinks and meals" that are easy on an office worker’s wallet.

With so many options, some people go "hashigo" (bar-hopping) through multiple places in one night. Areas lined with izakaya are called "nomiya-gai" (drinking districts) or "yokocho" (alleyways).

Shibuya Yokocho

Shibuya Yokocho
Source: Official website

While there are several "yokocho" in Shibuya, one gaining particular attention is "Shibuya Yokocho"
.Conceived as "a fusion of nationwide soul food and diverse entertainment," it opened in 2020 as the quintessence of yokocho culture and a melting pot of food and entertainment.

Along the 100m-long street are around 20 shops where you can enjoy not only delicious meals but also events showcasing Japanese culture like dance and music – a new, ultra-fun hangout spot. Located on the 1st floor of MIYASHITA PARK mall, just a 3-minute walk north from JR Shibuya Station, it's open from 11 am till night.

Official URL: https://shibuya-yokocho.com/
Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shibuya_yokocho/

A Nationwide Gathering of Local Specialties!

ALL Japan
Source: Official Twitter

At Shibuya Yokocho, you can savor local specialties from across Japan. In the Hokkaido area, in addition to seafood rice bowls, the thick-cut grilled pork loin on the "butadon" (pork bowl) is also famous, and of course available here. The ultra-milky soft serve is a great dessert option too.

The Kansai area features food from Osaka and Kyoto, like okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes, dubbed "Japanese pizza") and kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers), a representative B-gourmet dish. There are also dedicated areas for seafood and meat, letting you sample ingredients from all over the country!

Photo-Worthy Cheers Drinks at Each Shop

Source: rurubu & more

Each shop offers a "cheers drink" that's also a visual delight. For example, in the Kanto area, the immensely popular "Kingyo Hai" (Goldfish Highball) features a cute goldfish bowl with a chili pepper shaped like a goldfish floating inside!

For something more imposing, there's a yakitori tare (sauce) pot, a fire bucket reminiscent of a fire station at one shop, and a massive mug modeled after a popular baseball team's cap. 

The liquor poured generously into these vessels is totally Instagram-worthy! The drink varieties range from cocktails to shochu and sake, so be sure to check in advance.

Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho

Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho
Source: Official website

While Shibuya Yokocho offers a relatively new yokocho style, Shibuya is also home to long-standing, historic yokocho alleys like Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho.

"Nonbei" refers to someone who loves to drink. During Japan's period of rapid economic growth in the Showa era (1930s-1980s), Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho served as a relaxing spot where salarymen would unwind solo or with colleagues after work over drinks.

This legacy continues today, with regular patrons keeping the alley lively well into the night.

Official URL: http://www.nonbei.tokyo/

Over 70 Years of Nostalgic Ambiance

Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho View

Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho has a rich history, originating from food stalls that sprang up in the Shibuya area after WWII. During the economically prosperous Showa period, these stalls relocated to the current location, creating "Nonbei Yokocho."

The alley retains a strong Showa ambiance with its rows of red lantern-adorned shops, instantly transporting you back in time from Shibuya's modern youthful vibe. The nostalgic, old-world charm offers an authentic taste of Japan, where you can experience true”nin-jyo" (human kindness) as the staff, regulars, and even neighboring shop owners all treat each other like family.

Perfect for "Hashigo" (Bar-Hopping)

With around 40 tiny izakaya, bars and eateries crammed into areas just 2-3 tsubo (6-10 seats) each, you instantly become friends with everyone the moment you enter! From homestyle cooking to wine bars and bistros, the diverse options are sure to have something for you. Can't decide on just one place? Do some "hashigo" (bar-hopping)!

"Hashigo" literally means "ladder" but refers to going from one drinking establishment to the next. In yokocho areas, it's common to hop between several places.

Niku Yokocho (Chitose Kaikan)

Niku Yokocho
Source: Official website

A must-visit for meat lovers! Shibuya has "Niku Yokocho" (Meat Alley), one of Japan's largest yokocho areas dedicated to meat dishes. From yakiniku (grilled meat) to meat sushi and hamburger steak, if it's a meat dish, you'll find it here. If you want to try bites from different shops, they even offer a delivery service!

Recently a hit with the younger crowd for enabling real-life connections (said to attract 500,000 visitors a year), Niku Yokocho occupies an entire floor of Chitose Kaikan, about a 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station in the Center Gai shopping area.

Official website: https://chitose-shibuya.com/%e8%82%89%e6%a8%aa%e4%b8%81/

Affordably Enjoyable

Given its popularity among the youth, it's great that the prices at this yokocho are quite reasonable. You can eat and drink to your fill for around 3,000 yen on average! The relatively inexpensive drink prices are a big draw.

With its lively izakaya stall atmosphere, it's an energetic and fun place to let loose. This is quintessential Tokyo izakaya culture that you can experience affordably. If you want to indulge in that, Niku Yokocho in Shibuya is a great option.

Shibuya Center Gai

Shibuya Center Gai

Now about Shibuya Center Gai, where Niku Yokocho (Chitose Kaikan) is located. Officially called Shibuya Center Shotengai, true to its name, it's a central area in Shibuya lined with trendsetting shops spanning fashion, restaurants, music, game centers, and more.

Continuing to set trends, Shibuya Center Gai draws quite an eccentric and stylish crowd, making people-watching an entertaining activity in itself. The busiest hours are from 3-6 pm, so plan accordingly to either hit that window or avoid it!

Official URL: https://center-gai.jp/

Plentiful Izakaya Options!

Shibuya Center Gai is also an izakaya battleground! From cozy traditional izakaya to lively large drinking halls suited for groups, the area offers a wide range of options.

In recent years, a new breed dubbed "neo-izakaya" has emerged - keeping the izakaya vibe but with modern, stylish decor and menus incorporating trendy items. Their photogenic qualities have made these places increasingly popular among the younger crowd.

Izakaya Open Till Morning

Ended up missing the last train after getting too carried away? Not ready to call it a night with your newly bonded crew? No worries, as Shibuya has plenty of izakayas that operate till morning (some even 24 hours)!

With a range of genres like seafood, meat dishes, and Spanish tapas bars, you can find something to suit your mood. And since this is Japan, there's no need to worry about safety issues. Just note that trains typically don't start running again until around 5 am.

Shibuya offers so many ways to enjoy drinking, from establishments evoking the nostalgic charms of old Japan to cutting-edge trendy spots - this constantly evolving town is home to a diverse array of nightlife options.

You can hop between places in a single yokocho alley, or make your way across different yokocho and Center Gai. With Shibuya's nights being long, immerse yourself fully by indulging in the various offerings.

For first-timers feeling overwhelmed by the vast options, the "Shibuya Bar Hopping Night Tour in Tokyo"by Magical Trip is highly recommended. Knowledgeable guides will take you to Shibuya's prime izakaya and bars!