The Savvy Guide to Shibuya 109
The iconic Shibuya 109 shopping mall, nicknamed “marukyu,” lies at the heart of Shibuya’s fashion culture. It is situated alongside the famous scramble crossing and is a mecca for young women. In the 90s, the Shibuya “gyarus” (gals) brought 109 into the spotlight as the place to shop for the “gyaru” look. With their dyed blond hair, fake tan, miniskirts and unusual makeup, the Shibuya “gyarus” inspired the world with their cutting-edge style.
Whilst the original Shibuya girls have now grown into motherhood and become “mama-gyarus,” Shibuya 109 retains its reputation as a place to shop for cute and unusual Japanese fashion. However, Shibuya 109 is not for the faint hearted! You will lose all track of time as you step away from the natural light and into the kitsch neon maze of this tube shaped building. Shibuya 109 is home to ten floors of fashion and beauty products, as well as a few surprises that will leave you incredulous!
Shibuya 109 can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. With pumping music, store attendants shouting “irrashaimase” and a series of escalators to navigate amongst the crowds, it is easy to feel lost. Here is our guide to getting the most out of your Shibuya 109 shopping experience:
If you are in the market for an unusual pair of shoes or boots, head down to the first basement level for a good variety of funky footwear. My personal favorite is Esperanza XYZ, where all the shoes are made in Japan. The store displays the shoes by size so you can enjoy browsing without fear of any disappointment when you discover your size isn’t in stock. The shop carries a good selection of larger sized shoes (Japanese size 24.5cm, approximately a U.K. 6, U.S. 7, or European 39).
Most of the clothes in Shibuya 109 are only available in one size, which can be very frustrating if you do not have a body type similar to that of young Japanese women. However, depending on the item you can sometimes be lucky with shawls and other knitwear. Ruby to Be! on the second floor sells bohemian style fashion which can be fun to browse through. If you have a petite figure then floors four, five and six have a fabulous range of unusual clothes. The store attendants usually wear the clothes that are on sale and they are happy to help. It is great fun to watch them at work in their heavy makeup and platform shoes. Fitting rooms tend to be small or just a curtain at the back of the store, so be sure to ask them if you want to try anything on.
In September, two new costume stores opened. Sadistic Action on the basement level and T-Spook x Party City on the fourth floor. Both stores carry a good variety of high quality costumes for the party season. As the name suggests, some are more risqué than others!
Shibuya 109 is a haven for unusual accessories. I always enjoy browsing through the hair clips and alice bands in Sarah Zodiaque on the second floor. For colorful socks and tights head to Doll Kiss on the third floor. If you’re a girl that loves diamantes and bling, don’t miss Ruby Rose on the sixth floor, where you can buy bejewelled phone cases and character accessories.
Voeux in the basement is worth a visit to marvel at the array of colored contact lenses. The shop stocks every conceivable color! However, a shopping trip to Shibuya 109 would not be complete without also spending some time browsing around the top floor. Here you will find lots of unusual Japanese beauty products and accessories.
Food & Drink
For a unique souvenir from your visit to 109, visit the Café ma Maison on the seventh floor and pick up a tub of lollipops encased in a Shibuya 109 tube. Flavors include strawberry, orange, mint, dark chocolate and white chocolate. If you need a little pick-me-up, then head to SBY on the eighth floor, where there is a juice bar, a crepe stand and bubble tea.
Shibuya 109 is all about having fun and embracing the Shibuya girl lifestyle. It is a place for browsing and picking up things on a whim. Enjoy it!