Foreigners visiting Tokyo all go to Shibuya to see its famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing, and take a photo of the statue of the famous dog Hachiko. Shibuya district is crowded and features many fashion shops, restaurants, coffees shops… but if you go beyond the main streets and surroundings of Shibuya station, you enter Ura-Shibu, the “back of Shibuya”, which has a completely different ambiance.
Personally, I have walked in this area many times to go to a friend’s apartment, and I noticed that the ambiance looked extremely friendly and convivial in most restaurants. There are many restaurants I still want to try in this area! Besides, seeing young Japanese couples walk towards the entrance of “couple’s hotels” still makes me smile although I have lived in Tokyo for more than 10 years now. The Japanese culture is different 🙂
Ura-Shibu has many small streets with reasonable slopes in which you can easily get lost, one of the pleasures of tourists in Japan as such an event is the best opportunity to stumble upon an unexpected shop or restaurant, a Buddhist statue with a well-decorated and well-maintained altar, etc. There are many night clubs, so-called “couple’s hotels” where couples can enjoy a short stay in all anonymity, izakaya Japanese pubs with cheap but good food, stylish Japanese traditional restaurants (it surprised me the first time considering the surroundings), and various restaurants popular with the locals as well as with knowledgeable tourists: Italian, fish & seafood, yakitori grilled chicken, ramen noodles, etc. This is a former entertainment area with geisha and some of the remaining restaurants are quite stylish but most have reasonable prices, and the food is quite good! In some places you can drink all night long so that’s a great area to explore if your hotel is nearby. However, many shops are closed on daytime.
One of the borders is the dogenzaka street, along which you can find international fast food restaurants, a karaoke and internet cafe. If you enter the small streets from there, you can reach extremely popular clubs such as Shibuya O-East, Womb, Clubasia, or Glad. If you like art, walk north to reach Bunkamura, which hosts a great art museum, or maybe west to enter the Shoto Museum of Art. On the way, you will walk in front of Garlic x Garlic, an exceptional Italian restaurant with cuisine focused on garlic.
One of the great activities you can do as a couple (or as couples if you are on a double date with friends) is to go for a fun photo session at Samurai Armor Photo Studio near the top of Dogenzaka street and near Shinsen station. The armors there are good replicas and the photographs are really good. This experience is not cheap (13000 yen) but you should really enjoy the moment with your lover. Choose your good-looking armor, get photographed with interested backgrounds and Japanese objects (folding fan, etc.) and get all the data of the photos on an SD card at the end! The staff is experienced and their equipment professional; the photos taken are impressive!
If you go to the top of dogenzaka street instead and follow the elevated expressway going south-west, you will reach the Meguro River, which you can follow in the south-east direction (towards Naka-meguro station). Along its banks, you will find quiet paths for pedestrians where you can walk at your pace side by side and many cute and unique coffee shops, with shops selling diverse crafts and handmade products. Enjoy a romantic walk hand in hand and side by side if the weather is good, stop to drink coffee, tea, or something else when you need a break, and enjoy a sweet (try a “Happy Pudding” at Mahakala or “green bean to bar chocolate”) if you need energy to compensate for your effort 🙂 Many cherry trees are along these banks so the sun is not too aggressive for couples, the landscape is very green, and the place becomes amazing in spring when the petals of cherry blossoms fly with the wind either on daytime or with illuminations at nighttime.