When you’re visiting the Japanese capital of Tokyo, the famous crossing at Shibuya needs to be on your to-do-list of course. The 5-way-crossing is one of the busiest intersections in the world. After all traffic lights turn red and the cars stop, hundreds of people are crossing the street in all possible directions. Naturally, with all the big screens in the background, the people running around like ants and the great architecture, Shibuya photos are extremely special. Because of this, the Tokyo crossing has been in movies like Tokyo Drift, Lost in Translation and Resident Evil. As this is a one-in-a-lifetime experience, you will need to have the best view (preferably from up high) on the crossing to take the best Shibuya photos. As a frequent Tokyo visitor (check out my Tokyo Photos)I created a list of the best places to take Shibuya Photos below!
1. Starbucks at Shibuya Crossing
The Starbucks at Shibuya Crossing is located on the first floor of the building directly across the street when exiting the subway station. It directly overlooks the crossing and offers a full-size window front facing it. There is also a desk where you can sit and watch the people swarming across Shibuya. If you are able to get one of the limited seats at this desk, you can take some awesome Shibuya Photos from there! It is not the highest vantage point, but there is nothing that obstructs your view of the crossing. As this is a cafe and not a public place, you should buy a coffee downstairs (hey – it’s not bad!) and sip it upstairs. Sadly the lighting inside Starbucks in the evening makes it one of the best places for Shibuya photos only during the day. After a long day exploring Tokyo, a big Capuccino is not a bad idea either!
2. Excel Hotel Shibuya
One of the more hidden spots to take Shibuya Photos is located in the Excel Hotel near the Crossing. If you are looking for the highest vantage point to take Shibuya photos, you definitely want to go here. Just like Starbucks, this is no public place – so do not annoy anyone when taking the elevator up to the lobby on the 19th floor. Normally the staff is very relaxed about tourists taking photos from up here, but if they tell you to leave – please do so. And don’t think about using your huge tripod blocking the pathway of employees (duh). The more elegant way would be to stay a night in the hotel and get a room with a view on the crossing. This way you have all the time you need and the best view from above! Rates for this (quite nice) four star hotel can be found at orbitz.com for example.
3. Shibuya Subway Station
My personal favorite for Shibuya photos and the most convenient place is the subway station itself! If you exit the Ginza line, you will automatically come across a window spot where you can have a great view on the crossing. If you can’t find it just wander around the station – the viewpoint is located near a small cafe and directly faces the crossing of course. You don’t have to buy a coffee there, you don’t have to annoy hotel staff – you can just calmly take your Shibuya photos. Another good thing: the window board will serve you perfectly as a tripod so you can travel light! Speaking of “light”: the station is kinda bright, so you will have to find a way to eliminate this in your photographs – but it works, check out my photo!
4. On Shibuya Crossing
Why find a place to take Shibuya photos from up high when you can just “dive in”? Get your tripod and wait for the green light for pedestrians. Once you can cross, put up your tripod and take a photograph with a long exposure, having hundreds of Japanese and foreign people pass by your lens! This way you can capture all the hectic rush of this very special place in Tokyo. Try different angles and spots, with the billboards in the background and without. Play around with the exposure and find the best image for your own taste!
As you see, there are many different spots to take Shibuya photos. Some are up high, some right in the middle of the crossing. Now it’s just up to you to find the best spot for yourself – everyone has different preferences. I can tell you from my experience that you can spend hours wandering around and taking photos from all views. Just make sure you do not only look through your lens, but also capture this very special place with your own eyes and just enjoy the moment!
What is your favorite place to take Shibuya photos? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter!