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Join a fun Shibuya Food Tour with Arigato Japan

One way to get the feel of a new city is to get to grips with its food.  On a recent stay in Tokyo we did just that, joining the Shibuya Food Tour run by Arigato Travel.  This foodie centric tour company matches groups of travellers with an experienced local guide to show them around the area, introduce them to some great local eateries, local foods and to learn some of the customs around food and eating.

In previous years we’ve joined the Asakusa daytime food tour, and the All Stars tour of Ginza and Shimbashi also run by Arigato Travel and thoroughly enjoyed them.  It was an easy decision to pick them again to get a deeper look into Shibuya in the evening.

Shibuya scramble

On this springtime visit we hit Shibuya during Golden Week, a period when several public holidays all run together. We’ve been in the city before during this busy holiday season, but it seems to get more crowded and intense each year.  Add to this that Shibuya has undergone some massive development around the station area over the past few years and even if you know the place fairly well it can be hard to get your bearings amid the demolition and changes. Having someone guide us through it early in our stay was going to be a huge help to finding our feet again quickly.

The tour starts at Hachiko’s wall, a common meeting spot adjacent to the statue of Hachico that just seems to get more popular as a photo spot every year.  If you don’t know Hachiko’s story I’ll link it here, it is a sad but moving story about the bond we have with our furry family. Make sure to watch out for the statue and mural as you exit the station near the Shibuya scramble crossing.

Hachikos wall outside Shibuya Station

We met our guide Yappy and started having a chat while we waited for the rest of the group who were running a bit late.  Before crossing the Shibuya Scramble intersection, we headed up to a new vantage point to get a better perspective of the crossing and the crowds that can build up here.

Until now the Tsutaya Starbucks across the road has always been my favourite vantage point to see the crossing from above (it reopened in 2024 after renovations) but this new option is completely free and publicly accessible, you don’t even have to buy a coffee to enjoy it.

Shibuya scramble from the station walkway

After a look at the crossing and some local history of the area from Yappy he was leading our little group out into the crossing and through to the narrower lanes of Shibuya beyond. We were headed for our first stop of the evening, a standing sushi bar.

Who doesn’t love sushi and what a great start to the evening’s food tastings. Made to order sushi restaurants serve mainly nigiri sushi, a layer fish seated on top of the formed vinegar rice but we also got to try something a bit different on the tour.

We sampled from both lean and fatty tuna, salmon warmed by its grilled mayonnaise topping and Engawa which is the delicate fin of flounder or other flat fish. It was a new one to me but delicious, perhaps a new favourite.

We also had a delicate temaki hand roll with conger (sea) eel. I love freshwater eel (unagi) in Japan and always try to include it once or twice in any trip but the conger eel was new to us, surprisingly quite a mild flavour, good texture, with the added crunch of fresh vegetables and crispy nori wrapper it was very good.

Lean and fatty tuna sushi at standing bar in Shibuya
Temaki hand rolled sushi with congor eel

Our next stop is another Japanese classic, ramen. You’ll find many different ramen restaurants around the city from ultra casual street edge dining like this one to mid-range and even Michelin rated establishments.

Ramen can be the backbone of budget eating in Japan, a hearty meal for as little as Y600. There are literally thousands of ramen shops around Tokyo alone and there are a few decisions to make when you order so having an idea what you might like or not like up front is good. Do you like fat noodles or thin, mushrooms, egg, what sort of broth? So many decisions.

A good broth is a great place to start and while this ramen stand is among the great budget finds in Shibuya that doesn’t mean that they skimp on flavour. You can order other broths like miso, but their specialty is their 4-day tonkotsu or pork bone broth. Boiling the bones for many hours results in this milky broth you can see below, it is loaded with collagen and all the healthy bone broth benefits then topped off with a nice fatty flavourful chunk of roasted port, seaweed, green onions and mushrooms.

They are going to have to roll me on to the next stop if we keep eating like this, I know you don’t have to finish you plate but yum it really is good.

Pork broth ramen
Pork broth ramen with mushrooms held in chopsticks

Giving ourselves a bit of time for that course to digest a little we explore a bit of Shibuya on foot and take some group photos. The other 4 in our group head home early tomorrow morning so Yappy shows us some of the most popular souvenirs in Donki, or Don Quixote a top spot for the popular Japanese KitKat flavours and other food treats to take home for friends.

We wander through a few more streets and it’s time for course number 3 and it’s one of my favourites, okonomiyaki. This isn’t the more familiar Osaka style though, they specialise in the Hiroshima version, a layered okonomiyaki with a generous serving of noodles baked in.

Half the fun with this dish is watching it being cooked and while we are seated comfortably at a table to order our drinks and eat, they were also happy for us to stand around the bar and watch the chef assemble our dinner.

Hiroshima okonomiyaki cooking
Hiroshima okonomiyaki ready to eat

Our 4th stop is an izakaya, a style of casual bar that serves food along with drinks. This one is a chain that has specialised in Nagoya style chicken wings with their spicy peppery kick for over 50 years. Of course, they also serve other izakaya classics like kushi katsu skewers, slices of fluffy Japanese omelette and gyoza, the part steamed, part fried dumplings everyone loves.

We ordered drinks again at this stop as part of the tour and if you haven’t tried matcha beer before it is surprisingly good. As a general rule I’d say I like matcha better than I like beer, but I do often have a beer in Japan and I really enjoyed this one, I would definitely order it again. Normal beer, shochu or soft drinks are other options if you aren’t a matcha fan.

Drinks at Yamachan including a matcha beer

We are all very full at this stage, even the teen boys on the tour are struggling to finish, so we take a final walk through the streets of Shibuya that have continued to get busier as the evening progresses. Yappy steers us into a store that looks like the food basement floor of a high-end department store like Daimaru or Mitsukoshi but this one is part of the station complex. This is where our tour ends for the evening with a red bean paste filled pancake, apparently not a dorayaki but had a very similar texture and flavour.

Shibuya at night
A pancake like dorayaki

The Shibuya food tour with Arigato Japan is a great one for getting an overview of many Japanese dishes that are enjoyed on a night out with friends and a few drinks across Japan. It is a lot of fun, no one is leaving hungry and there are some great finds along the way to explore further during the remainder of your stay in the city.

Looking at booking your own food tour in Tokyo? This Shibuya food tour is a good pick for a night out with drinks, we like the Asakusa daytime tour as a good option with the family and you can’t go past the All Stars walk through Ginza and Shinbashi if you want to try some foods that most of us visitors are less familiar with.

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