Image credit: Yoshikazu TAKADA on Flickr

What will Shibuya look like in 2020?

With preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics underway, there are a number of high-profile urban renewal and development projects in progress throughout the city.

The Tokyo Bay area has gotten much of the attention because it will be one of the main competition venues, as well as being the site for the athletes’ village. The bayside will not be only area getting a facelift.

In this article, we will take a look at developments in Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s most colorful and busy districts, and a center of youth culture and entertainment.

However, there are plans to make dramatic changes to the area, with the aim of making Shibuya into a skyscraper and business district by 2020.

Shibuya Now

Currently, the tallest skyscraper in Shibuya is the Cerulean Tower, built by the Tokyu Corporation. It is 184 meters tall and was completed in 2001. In 2012, the Tokyu Corporation again generated some buzz when the Shibuya Hikarie building (180 meters tall) hit the scene.

The Shibuya Hikarie is directly connected to Shibuya station and is an integrated shopping, dining, and entertainment complex. It is considered a prime retail and office destination and is the venue for Tokyo Fashion Week. However, most locals do not think of skyscrapers when they think of Shibuya.


Three companies, Tokyu Corporation, JR East and Tokyo Metro are carrying out a joint project that will change the whole look of the neighborhood surrounding Shibuya station. The project encompasses a large area, divided into four districts:

  • Shibuya Station
  • Shibuya Station South
  • Shibuya Sakuragaoka
  • Shibuya Dogenzaka

Each area is slated to have one or more skyscrapers, but the project will focus on the renewal of Shibuya station itself.

Shibuya Planned Project Site

47-Story Observation Deck

The east wing of Shibuya station will be reborn as a 230 m-high, 47-story skyscraper, with a rooftop observation deck. Read about the 47-story observation facilities to be built atop Shibuya Station here. When completed it will dwarf the Shibuya Hikarie building and is envisioned as a new landmark for Shibuya. Plans are for it to be built by 2020. The west and center wings will be completed by 2027. See more photos here.

Image of Shibuya Station rooftop observation facilities.
Image of Shibuya Station rooftop observation facilities.

The “Shibuya Station South” district will welcome a 180m-high 34-story skyscraper, and the Sakuragaoka district will have two buildings taller than 150m. A 110m-high 18-story building will be coming to the Dogenzaka area.

Shibuya Image of Completed Project

What will become of Hachiko?

What will happen to Hachiko Plaza, one of the most famous meeting points in Tokyo? And what about Shibuya Crossing, perhaps the most chaotic (and photographed!) intersection in the world?

According to the developers behind the project, because tall buildings use vertical space more effectively, there will be more space available on the ground which can be developed as public squares or gardens.

For example, Hachiko Plaza will be expanded by 1.5 times. The defunct Tokyu rail tracks in the Shibuya Station South district will become green space and have a tree-lined promenade.

Also, apparently, buildings will be connected with skyways or underground walkways to give people more mobility, regardless of inclement weather!

Shibuya Image of Completed Project-3

The developers’ vision for Shibuya is to make it a futuristic city, a mixture of New York’s Times Square and Silicon Valley. Central to this vision is to turn Shibuya into a business district.

In recent years, companies such as CyberAgent and major communications and internet companies such as DeNA, KDDI, and LINE have opened offices in Shibuya.

Shibuya Image of Completed Project-2

The developers want to encourage this trend. Plans are to dedicate most of the space in the planned skyscrapers to office use, thereby attracting more companies to settle in Shibuya. The thinking is that if Shibuya can become a business district, workers will also want to live nearby, leading to the reinvigoration of the surrounding area.

Cross Section of Buildings
In the Dogenzaka area development, facilities aimed at attracting foreign businesses and ex-pats include international medical care facilities, serviced apartments, high-end apartments, and childcare facilities.


You may also be interested in: Shinagawa to be Japan’s Gateway to the World? and Two New Skyscrapers Coming to Shibuya

Sources: Suumo Journal (Japanese) and Tokyu Corporation’s “Urban Planning Proposal for Areas Surrounding Shibuya Station

Article updated as of May 1, 2016

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