Tokyo’s Shibuya Station has a magnetism that few can resist. Surrounded by high-rise buildings adorned with futuristic giant video screens, Shibuya has a fantasy quality that evokes comparisons to Blade Runner and anime films. It’s famous for its crowds of youth, fashion boutiques, music venues and a nonstop nightlife. It’s also one of Japan’s busiest rail hubs, serving commuters from the western and southern parts of the Tokyo region. It’s also a stop on the Narita Express service for Narita Airport.
Navigating Shibuya Station can be challenging since it’s not housed in one building. It’s a large rail and subway hub that’s spread out over several underground and aboveground layers. Many Tokyoites have been confused by its current layout since the Tokyu Toyoko Line was buried deep underground in March 2013, forcing commuters to make more time-consuming transfers to the JR Yamanote Line.
What’s more, Shibuya Station is undergoing a massive redevelopment that will add skyscrapers, office blocks and condominiums to the area surrounding the station. All aspects of the project will be complete by 2027; for details, see our article on Shibuya’s redevelopment.
This article will familiarize you with the layout of Shibuya Station and its train lines and platforms. Note that construction is ongoing and buildings are being renewed at Shibuya Station, so the information presented here may not reflect what you see on the ground.
Shibuya Station consists of a mix of railways and subways, so your experience will differ depending on the rail line you use. The main points of reference are:
- The main complex of JR Shibuya Station
- Shibuya Crossing (aka Shibuya Scramble) and Hachiko Square on the northwest side of JR Shibuya Station, famed for its large video screens and statue of Hachiko the dog
- Shibuya 109 building, a fashion landmark a block from the northwest side of Shibuya Station
- Shibuya Hikarie, an office, shopping and entertainment high-rise building on the east side of JR Shibuya Station
- Miyamasuzaka, a street sloping downward to the northeast side of JR Shibuya Station
- Shibuya Chikamichi, an underground passageway connecting the east and west sides of Shibuya Station
The aboveground JR Shibuya Station, which is operated by East Japan Railway (JR East), straddles the JR Yamanote Line, which runs north-south through Shibuya. JR Shibuya Station is housed in a building that’s part of Tokyu Department Store, one of the most prominent structures in the complex. The JR Saikyo and Shonan-Shinjuku lines also stop at Shibuya, but they are located further south than the Yamanote Line and are accessed by a walkway.
Above JR Shibuya Station is Shibuya Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line linking Shibuya with Asakusa by the Sumida River. Because of the hilly geography of Shibuya, the Ginza Line is above ground here as well. The Ginza Line terminates at Shibuya.
The third aboveground station at Shibuya is on the Keio Inokashira Line, which connects Shibuya and Kichijoji in western Tokyo. The Inokashira Line Ginza Station terminus is located on the second floor of the Shibuya Mark City mall, immediately west of the JR Shibuya Station; the two are connected through an elevated passageway.
Aside from the Ginza line, there are two Tokyo Metro subway lines at Shibuya that run underground and connect with Tokyu Corporation commuter railways.
The Hanzomon Line runs east-west from Oshiage to Shibuya, where trains continue on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line, which runs southwest to Futakotamagawa and Chuo-Rinkan Station in Kanagawa Prefecture.
The Fukutoshin Line runs north-south from Ikebukuro to Shibuya, where trains continue along the Tokyu Toyoko Line, which goes southward to Motomachi-Chukagai in Yokohama’s Chinatown via the Minatomirai subway line.
The Hanzomon, Den-en-toshi, Fukutoshin and Toyoko lines all join in a large underground complex with common ticket gates. The complex extends from the east side of Shibuya Station to the west side; there are multiple entrances on both sides.
Navigation and Underground Arcades
While it’s possible to walk the periphery of JR Shibuya Station to get from one side to the other, you can avoid most of the construction zones by going underground.
The Shibuya Chikamichi is an L-shaped underground passageway and arcade that runs from the Shibuya 109 building on the west side to the Shibuya Hikarie building on the east side. Although it’s somewhat confusing, the Chikamichi is a convenient way of going from east to west or vice versa without having to deal with the aboveground intersections and overhead train lines.
Note that most of Shibuya Chikamichi is on the second basement (B2) floor, but near the Shibuya 109 building it has another floor (B1), which isn’t nearly as extensive.
Another underground arcade that sits above the Shibuya Chikamichi is Shibuya Chikagai, a collection of fashion and accessory shops that begins below Hachiko Square (via a large staircase) and connects with Tokyu Foodshow, the basement food floor of Tokyu Department Store. To get from the Chikamichi to JR Shibuya Station, you’ll have to walk through part of the Chikagai.
Shibuya Station Main Gates and Exits
There are four main gates at JR Shibuya Station.
- The Hachiko Gate, named after an Akita dog famed for its loyalty to its master, opens onto Hachiko Square on the northwest side of the station. The statue of Hachiko here is one of the most popular meeting spots in Japan. The corresponding underground subway exit is No. 8. The square opens onto Shibuya Crossing, with the Shibuya 109 building a block to the west. The corresponding underground subway exits for the 109 building are No. 1 and No. 3a.
- The Miyamasuzaka Exit is on the northeast side of the station and opens onto the foot of Miyamasuzaka Hill, which leads toward Aoyama-dori Street and the Minami-Aoyama fashion and shopping district. The corresponding underground subway exit is No. 10. The area in front of the exit is currently a bus depot including services to Roppongi and Roppongi Hills (bus stop 51).
- The Central Gate, South Gate and New South Gate are on the central and southern sides of the complex and open on to passageways for the West, East and New South Exits.
- The East Exit is on the east side of the station and faces the Shibuya Hikarie high-rise complex. The area in front of the exit is currently under construction. The corresponding underground subway exit is No. 15.
The West Exit is on the west side of the station, south of the Hachiko Gate, and faces a large bus depot for Tokyu buses, taxi stands, as well as a construction zone. Another famous Shibuya statue and meeting spot, the Moyai head, stands here.
JR Train Line Platforms
There are four train platforms at JR Shibuya Station. Each is color-coded.
Platform 1: Yamanote Line bound for Shinjuku and Ikebukuro
Platform 2: Yamanote Line bound for Shinagawa and Tokyo
Platform 3: Saikyo and Shonan-Shinjuku lines bound for Shinjuku and Omiya, as well as city-bound Narita Express services
Platform 4: Saikyo and Shonan-Shinjuku lines bound for Osaki and Yokohama, as well as airport-bound Narita Express services. Some Saikyo Line trains have through service to Tokyo Teleport (Odaiba), Kokusai-Tenjijo (Tokyo Big Sight) as well as Shin-Kiba on the Rinkai Line.
Platforms for Subways & Other Railways
Hanzomon Line/Den-en-toshi Line
Platform 1: Den-en-toshi Line bound for Futakotamagawa and Chuo-Rinkan
Platform 2: Hanzomon Line bound for Oshiage
Fukutoshin Line/Toyoko Line
Platforms 3 & 4: Toyoko Line bound for Yokohama, Motomachi-Chukagai
Platforms 5 & 6: Fukutoshin Line bound for Wakoshi
The Ginza Line terminates at Shibuya and only has one outbound platform (No. 2) bound for Asakusa. The Inokashira Line also terminates at Shibuya and has two outbound platforms bound for Kichijoji.
Article by Tim Hornyak. All rights reserved.