Shibuya has been looking at some major changes in the past few years, with more still to come. Over the course of a 15-plus year development plan, Tokyo’s most iconic city is being reborn into a whole new vision: “Entertainment City Shibuya.” This ambitious project will see brand new facilities dedicated to entertainment, international enterprise, and creative industries. Bold, modern reconstructions – some of which have already been completed – will boast museums and event halls, theaters, shopping, dining, and so much more.
You may have already caught glimpses of new walkways and flashy exteriors around the station. As the redevelopment project gets closer to completion, the unique culture of one of Tokyo’s most famous neighborhoods will reach a whole new scale of international fame and, ideally, invite a new influx of tourism, business, and even residents. Here, we’ve covered the developments to date, as well as projections for more to come through 2027.
2012 – Shibuya Hikarie
The first part of the 15-year-plus development plan for Shibuya was completed in 2012. The 43-story Shibuya Hikarie building is a 183-meter tall skyscraper overlooking the scramble crossing. The shopping center is easy to get to from the station, connected by both aboveground and underground passages. The outside is adorned with LED lights and the inside boasts eight floors of shopping as well as restaurants, offices, and even a theatre at which patrons can catch Broadway musicals and other live shows. Visitors can also find conferences and creative projects held in the building, and level 9, in particular, often houses free-of-charge exhibitions featuring art and photography.
|Address||2-21-1, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo|
2017 – Shibuya Cast
Shibuya’s next major development came several years after the Hikarie building opened. In 2017, the Shibuya Cast building opened its doors, kicking off the opening with 10 days of events dedicated to food, music, and art. The building, which is located a little farther from Shibuya station proper at the end of Cat Street, hosts 18 floors of shops, cafes, restaurants, and the like. Shibuya Cast is one of several Shibuya developments that show an increased interest in creative industries and start-ups, offering shared office space and a creative complex dedicated to the sharing of ideas and technology.
|Address||1-23-21, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo|
2018 – Shibuya Stream
After Cast, we didn’t have to wait long for the next in the lineup. Shibuya Stream opened its doors in 2018. The building sits right on top of Shibuya Station’s Tokyu Toyoko lines and was, apparently, a part of overall plans to redevelop some unused platform space within the station as well as to connect other lines for greater ease of transport. The development of Shibuya Stream also included the restoration of the Shibuya River, adding more green space and an overall more appealing atmosphere for visitors. The complex is connected to the Daikanyama area, an area that has been getting some recent buzz for new developments, specifically with an appeal to those in creative industries. The building itself houses shops and eateries, including open-air cafes and events.
|Address||3-21-3, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo|
2019 – Scramble Square, Fukuras, and Parco
Compared to the developments from 2012 to 2018, 2019 and 2020 saw an explosion of development around the Shibuya Station area. Although some projects have seen delays due to the COVID situation, the development plans have nonetheless seen some impressive progress.
Shibuya Scramble Square
Perhaps the most significant accomplishment of the Shibuya developments to date, Shibuya Scramble Square boasts itself as the highest building in the Shibuya area. This 230-meter-tall monster stands just above Shibuya Scramble Crossing and houses 47 floors of industrial and commercial facilities. The most noteworthy of these for visitors may be Shibuya Sky. Sitting pretty at the top of the Scramble Square building, Shibuya Sky offers visitors a view over Tokyo in all directions. The rest of the tower, however, is nothing at which to turn up one’s nose. The picture of metropolitanism, the Square offers restaurants and shops dedicated to modern tastes and the latest trends. In a very short amount of time, the building has already become one of the most popular spots in all of Tokyo.
|Name||Shibuya Scramble Square|
|Address||2-24-12, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo|
2019 also welcomed Shibuya Fukuras, an 18-story building committed to – you guessed it – shopping and dining. Shibuya Fukuras has more to offer than just your run of the mill shopping malls, however. Visitors can find art exhibitions, traditional Japanese cuisine such as soba and sushi, and even specialty restaurants such as Pepper Parlor, where patrons are waited upon by one of Japan’s famous robots. Other floors offer open-air gardens full of greenery and comfortable seating, international dining and entertainment, and beautiful views of the surrounding cityscape.
|Address||1-2-3, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo|
Another 2019 opening was Shibuya Parco. The luxury shopping center had undergone a long process of reconstruction – two years long, in fact. The new and improved facility houses luxury brand shopping on the first floor, for those who like to keep it flashy. If you’re not super into luxury shopping, however, don’t worry. Other floors host a mix of shops and restaurants to fit anyone’s style. Beyond that, there’s a cinema as well as a live theatre, art galleries, and – for the otaku in all of us – a floor exclusively for fans of manga and gaming, with a Pokemon center, JUMP STORE, and giant Nintentdo store.
|Address||15-1, Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo|
2020 – Metro Ginza Platform, Miyashita Park, and the Tokyu Closure
2020 was an interesting year, as we can all attest. The Olympic Games, in preparation for which many of Tokyo’s redevelopment was planned, were postponed. And alongside the delay of the games, the response to COVID-19 has also seen the delay of much of Shibuya’s redevelopment plans. The year wasn’t all bad, though. The developments made in 2020 ushered out some of the old and welcomed in the new as we press on toward the future.
New Metro Platform
One practical development in Shibuya has been the opening of the new platform for the Metro Ginza Line. The platform has now doubled in width and also gotten a style update with a new roof designed by Tadao Ando, an award-winning architect of Japan. Visitors looking on from the outside will notice a stylish wavy design in the shape of an “M”, but it’s not all about looks. The interior of the platform, once crowded with columns and structural pillars, now features an open, airy feel. With more direct connections to other lines, the platform also makes for easier transfers. There is also now a tunnel that allows pedestrians to easily cross from one side of the station to the other, a welcome addition to this hectic station.
Another redevelopment plan that finally came to fruition in 2020 was Miyashita Park. Originally, this park was a public green space that sprawled alongside the JR Yamanote line. Now, the park itself has been elevated – literally. The green space – an open lawn that now features a number of adventurous fun from bouldering to skating – sits on the roof of a new, beautiful shopping mall. Visitors can head to the first floor for their Gucci fix, or skip the first floor and head straight for the escalators to check out a variety of shops and restaurants scattered through the 2nd and 3rd floors, including a very unique KitKat store where you can make your own custom KitKat bar!
There is also a brand new alleyway filled with rows of restaurnats dubbed “Shibuya Yokocho,” which is poised to become one of the best places to find something delicious to eat in Shibuya.
Architecture enthusiasts will be interested to know that the complex is the first project released under the Rayard brand of the Mitsui Fudosan real estate company. The new Rayard brand is focused on combining commercial facilities with green spaces, so we should have more to look forward to!
|Address||6-20-10, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo|
Tokyu Department Store Closure
Another major development of this year was not an opening, but a closing. In September 2020, the Tokyu Department Store – which had been in business for 85 years – closed its doors to make way for future construction. The Tokyu name is well-known to Shibuya’s frequent visitors and had grown to be a landmark of the Shibuya Station area. Upon its closing and leading up to the building’s demolition, artists expressed their love for the store and their gratitude for the years of service through graffiti and street art. Although a bittersweet step in the process of Shibuya’s development, Tokyu’s closure is not forever. The company will likely open a new department store in the Shibuya area sometime down the line – and no doubt it will be yet another hallmark of the city’s arrival into the future.
Beyond 2020 – Much More to Come
Although much of the Shibuya developments were planned to take place in time for the 2020 Olympics, there is still much more to come before the final stages of the “Entertainment City Shibuya” project are complete. The construction plans are likely to continue through 2027 (foregoing any delays), and include the reconstruction of several of the station’s major buildings.
2023 – Sakuragaoka and Dogenzaka
The Sakuragoaka developments are scheduled to come next, with an apartment tower of nearly 30 stories and an office tower of nearly 40. These developments are planned to be finished in 2023. There is also a new 120-meter-tall skyscraper being built by the company that owns the popular Donki Hote stores which will be completed in Dogenzaka in 2023.
2024 – Shibuya 2-Chome
There are plans for another skyscraper near Shibuya Station, in Shibuya 2-chome, right next to Shibuya Hikarie. The early renderings of the building show a tall glass skyscraper with 24 above-ground floors and 4 underground floors. It is still unclear what the building will be used for, but the plans call for it to be connected via pedestrian bridges to the surrounding buildings and provide a large gathering space. Presumably, the lower floors will house shopping and dining facilities.
2027 – A New Shibuya Scramble
And finally, by 2027, we should be seeing the completion of the reconstruction of the station’s Central and West wings, including a new exterior to the station that will emphasize Shibuya’s iconic scramble crosswalk. These two buildings will offer visitors a variety of both underground and above ground shopping, to be sure, complete with incredible views.
Keep Your Eyes Open!
Although we could spend ages just exploring the recent developments in Shibuya and those to come, this isn’t the only section of Tokyo that’s been undergoing changes. Other developments have been progressing all over the city. The Tokyo Station area itself is soon to be adorned with three brand new towers.
Other areas, such as Shinagawa and the Minato Ward, are seeing brand new hotels and shopping centers. And the Harajuku/Jingumae area – another of Tokyo’s most popular neighborhoods – has already seen the reconstruction of the station and other parts of the famous shopping district. Although we still don’t know what will happen with the Olympics and international travel, there is much to look forward to for Tokyo-ites and travelers alike.
Title Image: PIXTA
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.