For people who want a more traditional experience, especially shopping, staying at the station, or heading north is the best way to go. The Tokyu department store is located above and below Shibuya station. Heading north from Shibuya crossing will lead you to Seibu and Marui department stores. All of these shops provide a typical Japanese department store experience. You can find them in every major centre of Tokyo, and almost every major city in Japan. However, be sure to explore all of the side streets. I have visited Shibuya countless times and every corner, every back street, changes constantly. Many of the old shops have left the northern areas, in favour of more traditional fashion boutiques. However, if you walk around enough, you’re sure to find a lot of nice shops that even residents who have lived their whole lives have never even found.
If you are feeling more adventurous, or you just have too much time on your hands, the areas to the south and east provide a very different feel for Shibuya compared to the north and west areas. Directly to the east, people tend to associate it with Omotesando. To the north east, it’s more Harajuku. To the south, it feels more like Ebisu. Omotesando is an upscale area that is very akin to Ginza. The main difference is the affluence. While Ginza is for people to be seen, and you’ll see a large variety of classes, Omotesando tends to be one class only, rich. Harajuku was talked a lot by Gwen Stefani for its fashion and need to break away from the normal culture. The north east corner of Shibuya borders Harajuku, and hence has more in common with that style of fashion. It is also a location of an infamous park where homeless people tend to live, and rows of yakitori shops similar to the small shops in Shinjuku. Again, like in Shinjku, I would not recommend them as they tend to be a little expensive, and they may not be so friendly to foreigners. It’s better to go to Shinjuku. The south region will see things be more food oriented. Ebisu tends to have more food shops than anything. You can also see some interesting fashion outlets, but people tend not to shop here. There are more apartments than shops, but if you want to go for a nice walk, this area is a nice area.
All in all, Shibuya is a place to visit. It’s noisy, bustling 24 hours a day, and willing to show you new insights into Japan. Is it a true picture of Japan? No. Will you be amazed by the crazy lights, strange people, and wonderful shopping? Yes. Make sure you visit during the day and night. In the day, do your shopping in the north. At night, return to Centre Gai and take a stroll around the Love Hotel Hill. Don’t be surprised when you pass expensive cars with blacked out windows parked in front of a sex toy shop.