Even among the rapidly changing areas of Tokyo due to redevelopment, Shibuya is a neighborhood that continually evolves not only in its cityscape but also in its culture.

The famous Scramble Crossing, which has been the setting for numerous movies, dramas, and anime, and the Hachiko statue, synonymous with Shibuya's meeting spots, are world-renowned. Even as a Japanese person, I get inexplicably excited when I visit after a long time.

With its concentration of art museums and live music venues, the positive and powerful energy where new art and music are constantly emerging, and the open atmosphere where various races gather, are unique charms of this neighborhood.

Where people gather, there are naturally many drinking establishments, and it's also typical of Shibuya to see young people endlessly discussing their dreams over drinks. This time, I'd like to introduce ways to enjoy "Shibuya drinking."

What is an Izakaya?

While there are various styles of drinking establishments, this time I’ll focus on "izakayas." Unlike typical bars where alcohol is the main focus, izakayas primarily serve food that pairs well with drinks.

It's similar to pubs in the UK or bars in Italy and Spain. From old-style izakayas that have been around for decades to neo-izakayas that offer Instagram-worthy multicultural cuisine and spaces popular with young people, they continue to evolve and increase in number!

Many unique izakayas leverage their strengths, such as those specializing in fish or meat dishes, those with a wide range of fruit-filled alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, or those where the owner's character is the selling point. It's also a stylish way to enjoy hopping between 2-3 establishments in one night, savoring a bit of food and drink at each.

Also, the "otoshi," the first small dish served in izakayas (included in the table charge), often features the shop's recommended dish of the day, so be sure to try it.

The Izakaya Scene in Shibuya

There are over 4,000 restaurants and bars in the Shibuya area, making it a "sleepless city" where you can find food and drink until dawn.
While Shinjuku and Roppongi are also great for enjoying Tokyo nights, Shibuya is characterized by its abundance of casual and reasonably priced establishments, perhaps due to its large young population. I personally like the relaxed atmosphere and (depending on the establishment) the appropriate level of friendliness.

And even within the category of izakayas, there's a wide variety ranging from "taishu sakaba" (casual pubs where even solo diners can easily enter) to hidden gem establishments with private rooms, and small eateries where you can chat shoulder-to-shoulder at the counter.

Sometimes alone, sometimes with a lover, with colleagues or in a group... being able to choose according to the situation is unique to Shibuya. From here on, I'll introduce a selection of must-visit izakayas in Shibuya!

Izakayas with Private Rooms for Relaxation

Umeko no ie

Umeko no ie
Source: Tabelog

While many Japanese izakayas are small and cramped, the charm of "Umeko no Ie" lies in its completely private rooms that ensure privacy. There are various types of private rooms available, including couple seats for 2, table seats for 4, and horigotatsu (sunken kotatsu).

It's popular for allowing guests to relax quietly and enjoy their meal away from the hustle and bustle of the city, despite being in the heart of Shibuya.
The creative Japanese cuisine and desserts, with their elaborate presentations, are also popular among discerning local women.

Another feature is the wide variety of umeshu (plum wine). They offer a diverse range of rare umeshu and umeshu-based cocktails, including refreshing umeshu combined with fruits, adult-oriented spicy ginger umeshu, and umeshu enjoyed with the aroma of black tea.

- Address: 7F VORT Shibuya briller, 1-20-5 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Access: 3 minutes walk from JR Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit
- Closed: Open daily
- Phone: 050-5269-9047
- Hours: 17:00-23:30 (Last order for food 22:30, drinks 23:00)
- Official website: https://umeko.dkdining.com/shibuyakouen/


Source: Tabelog

If you want to enjoy a truly Japanese-style space and cuisine, "Nagomiya" is recommended. Having just opened in December 2023, this new establishment features a chic space separated by fusuma (sliding doors), with soft lighting from traditional andon lamps and bamboo indirect lighting creating a relaxed mood.

They are known for their creative Japanese cuisine using superior ingredients from various regions, such as freshly caught fish sourced directly from trusted fishermen, horse meat from Kumamoto Prefecture, and Daisen jidori chicken from Tottori Prefecture. It's also popular among business people for meetings.

My must-order items are the sashimi and the extra-large hokke (Atka mackerel) from Hokkaido. The juicy hokke, grilled over charcoal by the chef, pairs perfectly with sake! I highly recommend trying it.

- Address: 4F Lu82 Building, 26-4 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Access: About 4 minutes walk from JR Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit
- Closed: Open daily
- Phone: 03-4216-0239
- Hours: Monday-Friday 15:00-0:00, Saturday/Sunday/Holidays 12:00-0:00 (Last order for food 23:00, drinks 23:30 all days)
- Reference site: https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1303/A130301/13290891/

Yokocho (Alleyways) with Retro Atmosphere Izakayas

Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho

Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho
Source: Official website

Among Japanese youth, there's a "Showa retro boom" where the Showa era (1920s-1980s) is considered "emoi" (emotional). "Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho" strongly retains the atmosphere of the Showa era, with about 30 small eateries and bars with just a few counter seats crowded together.

It's said that in the 1920s, street guitar and accordion players would wander through, creating a mysterious atmosphere that feels like stepping into a different dimension, completely different from today's face of the big city Shibuya.

You can enjoy a gentle time, warming your heart with casual conversation with the mama at the counter or neighboring customers... The comfortable distance is just right.

- Address: 1-25 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Access: 2 minutes walk from JR Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit / Hachiko Square
- Hours: Vary by store
- Closed days: Vary by store
- Official website: http://www.nonbei.tokyo/

Shibuya Yokocho

Shibuya Yokocho
Source: Official website

In contrast to Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho, which allows you to enjoy the old-style atmosphere of the Showa era itself, "Shibuya Yokocho" has emerged as a new entertainment alley.

About 20 shops offering local cuisine and street food from all over Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, are gathered here. Popular menu items that people want to eat in Japan, such as ramen, yakitori, and gyoza, are lined up, so it might be fun to compare the taste differences rooted in each region.

Events related to local festivals and collaborative performances between enka singers and DJs are also held, making it a lively and vibrant gathering place that's like a festival every day!

Some shops are open until 5 in the morning, so you might try bar-hopping with clubs and bars to fully enjoy the sleepless city of Shibuya all night.

- Address: 1F RAYARD MIYASHITA PARK South, 6-20-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Access: 3 minutes walk from Exit B1 of Shibuya Station on JR, Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Ginza Line, Fukutoshin Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line, Den-en-toshi Line, Keio Inokashira Line
- Closed: Open daily
- Hours: Monday-Saturday 11:00-5:00, Sunday 11:00-23:00 *May vary by store
- Official website: https://shibuya-yokocho.com/

Neo Izakayas for Instagrammable Photos


Source: Tabelog

The culture of Japanese izakayas continues to diversify even now. Among them, neo izakayas have been gaining popularity, especially among young people in recent years.

Their charm lies in offering multinational creative menus not limited to Japanese dishes that pair well with alcohol, creating Instagram-worthy spaces, and adopting a style where young people and women can easily drop by even alone.

At "Awayokubar" they offer a wide lineup of "bubbly" drinks themed around popular Japanese beers, fruit-filled sours, domestic craft gins, and overflowing sparkling wines served in generous glasses.

The à la carte dishes are also creative, and it's pleasing that even kushiage, a staple izakaya menu item, is prepared healthily with plenty of vegetables! It's no wonder that there are so many female customers.

- Address: 1F SHIBUYA MARK CITY, 1-12-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Access: Directly connected to Shibuya Station on the Keio Inokashira Line
- Closed: Open daily
- Phone: 03-5459-1837
- Hours: 17:00-23:00 *From 16:00 on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
- Official website: https://www.dd-holdings.jp/shops/awayokubar/shibuya#/


Source: Tabelog

As the name suggests, "Toridoshi" specializes in chicken dishes and sour-based drinks. The casual modern interior with counter and table seats is filled with young customers every day.

Particularly popular are the fresh fruit sours that use seasonal fruits abundantly. From strawberries in spring to dragon fruit in summer, and even shine muscat and melon! The sours topped with seasonal fruits are as beautiful as cocktails and have an Instagrammable appeal that makes you want to take photos.

When you come here, first order the signature Doshi-yaki, marinated in special spices and grilled in the open, or the fresh chicken “aburi sashi”. You can enjoy the deep, flavorful taste unique to high-quality, fresh chicken.

- Address: 1F MST Building, 1-13-5 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Access: 2 minutes walk from Shibuya Station West Exit on the Keio Inokashira Line, 5 minutes walk from JR Shibuya Station West Exit
- Closed: Irregular
- Phone: 03-6427-8555
- Hours: Monday-Friday 17:00-23:00 (Last order for food 22:00, drinks 22:30) *From 16:00 on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
- Official website: https://toridoshisibuya.owst.jp/

Recommended Izakayas for Meat Lovers

Shibuya Niku Yokocho (Chitose Kaikan)

Niku Yokocho
Source: Official website

"Shibuya Niku Yokocho" is a gathering of 28 small shops themed around meat. As Japan's largest "meat theme park" attracting about 500,000 people annually, it's an essential food spot for Shibuya tourism.

From casual yakiniku restaurants with great cost performance to high-end yakiniku restaurants offering Chateaubriand, Japanese-style izakayas with a variety of meat sushi including beef tongue, wagyu, horse meat, and duck, to shops selling 100% Japanese Black beef hamburgers so fresh they can be eaten rare - the lineup is so attractive it's hard to choose!

While a trip full of light Japanese food is nice, this yokocho is perfect for when you're in the mood for something with a bit more punch.

- Address: 2F/3F Chitose Kaikan, 13-8 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Access: 2 minutes walk from JR Shibuya Station Exit A2
- Closed: Varies by store
- Hours: Varies by store
- Official website: https://nikuyokocho.jp/

Here, let me introduce the "Shibuya Bar Hopping Night Tour in Tokyo," a guided tour that allows you to experience Shibuya Niku Yokocho more deeply. A local guide familiar with the Shibuya area will navigate you to authentic izakayas frequented by locals while guiding you through the Shibuya Scramble Crossing.

It's an all-inclusive tour with drinks and food included in the price, so you can participate easily without bringing anything. Please enjoy the seasonal dishes and recommended “nihonshu (sake)”.

For details on the "Shibuya Bar Hopping Night Tour in Tokyo," click here: https://www.magical-trip.com/product/e97da2a4-a99c-4ec8-b2c2-e5e9ae25a8f6

Jidoriya Tsukada

Jidoriya Tsukada
Source: Tabelog

If we're talking about the standard Japanese drinking style, it would be "yakitori as a snack with drinks," wouldn't it? "Jidoriya Tsukada" offers a way to enjoy chicken dishes, which have always been the most familiar to common people, in a higher-grade manner.

Using only "Miyazaki Jitokko" and "Kuro Satsuma Dori," which are also well-known as brand chickens, they prepare every part including rare cuts without waste. Starting with charcoal-grilled jidori chicken, they offer a full range of menus that bring out the inherent umami of the ingredients, from sashimi that allows you to compare different parts like liver, thigh, and breast meat, to hot pot dishes like mizutaki and shabu-suki that gently draw out the chicken's flavor.

If you're unsure what to choose, selecting a course that covers the recommended dishes is a safe bet.

- Address: 3F Shibuya Iwasaki Building, 2-6-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Access: 1 minute walk from JR Shibuya Station Exit A1
- Closed: January 4, 5
- Phone: 03-5456-6277
- Hours: 17:00-23:00 (Last order 22:00) *From 13:00 on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
- Official website: https://lp.tsukadanojo.jp/jidoriya/#

Recommended Izakayas for Fish Lovers


Source: Tabelog

"Kaikaya," with its bright and cheerful facade reminiscent of a seaside eatery, is known for its fresh seafood dishes sourced through the owner-chef's carefully cultivated seaside connections over time.

It's popular among foreign tourists as well, offering not only fresh local fish but also luxurious items like abalone, shrimp, crab, and high-grade tuna. The wide range of arrangements, from Japanese cuisine as a base to ethnic and European-style, is also appealing.

There are numerous creative menu items where you can discover new deliciousness in ingredients, such as tuna kama (the part below the gills) spare ribs and “shirako (milt)” gratin.

- Address: 1F Hoshino Maruyama Building, 23-7 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku
- Access: 8 minutes walk from JR Shibuya Station Exit A0
- Closed: Wednesdays
- Phone: 03-3770-0878
- Hours: 17:00-22:30 (Last order 21:30)
- Official website: https://www.kaikaya.com/

KINKA sushi bar izakaya

KINKA suchi bar izakaya
Source: Tabelog

"KINKA" is conceptualized as a "SUSHI BAR IZAKAYA originating from Canada." The space, produced by a Canadian designer, has created a buzz with its modernity that sets it apart from traditional sushi restaurants.

The signature menu item is “aburi” sushi, prepared in the open kitchen with a live feel. These nigiri sushi are made with seasonal fish, each topped with a special sauce and seared. The combination of the melting fish oil and the sauce is exquisite!

You'll also become addicted to the visually stunning menu items created with bold ideas, such as Japan's first lobster sushi and tempura. The original drinks are also unique, including highballs using tea, beer cocktails, and sangria made with fruit and”nihonshu (sake)”. The lineup is so intriguing for alcohol lovers that you need to be careful not to over-order.

- Address: 2F Ichigo Fiesta Shibuya, 3-10 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Access: 4 minutes walk from JR Shibuya Station Exit 3A
- Closed: Irregular
- Phone: 03-6452-5258
- Hours: 11:30-14:30 (Last order 14:00), 17:00-23:00 (Last order 22:00)
- Official website: https://kinkasushibarizakaya.com/

I've introduced a selection of izakayas that rival full-fledged restaurants with their commitment to cuisine and carefully chosen drinks.

While izakayas typically offer a wide variety of nihonshu and shochu due to their focus on Japanese cuisine, in recent years, the options have greatly expanded to include craft gins, domestic and international wines, as well as non-alcoholic drinks.

Some establishments are open from lunchtime on weekends, so starting with a leisurely daytime drink can be one of the pleasures of travel. It's a universal truth that people naturally gather where there's good food and drink, and information is exchanged. The openness that allows for casual enjoyment even with people at neighboring tables is a good point of Japanese izakayas.

I hope you'll experience and feel the current Tokyo in Shibuya's izakayas, and if possible, make friends with the locals and have a wonderful time.