Shibuya Center Gai

A shopping street where the youth gather. It’s just beyond the famous scramble intersection of Shibuya

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Center Gai, a place where the young get together, is right next to the famous crossing in Shibuya. There are stores for the youth lining the narrow street, and among the crowd and the noise, a unique atmosphere is created.
24-4 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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The distinct feeling of Shibuya’s Center Gai is a highlight of touring Tokyo  

Going from the plaza where the statue of Hachiko stands in front of JR Shibuya Station and across the scramble intersection, you will find the gateway to Center Gai in the corner. Right at the front of the crossing, there is a huge display screen showing electronic advertising. To the left side of this, there is a road extending off to the west which happens to be Center Gai. You will find it easily since there is an arch at the entrance.  

Long ago, there used to be a river flowing on that site where construction proceeded, and in the 1930s, it became a commercial area with dining and drinking establishments. In the 1950s, it was further developed as an area to rival Shinjuku, and before long, young people started coming in and out of the area in large numbers, and currently, there are restaurants, karaoke boxes, fast food joints and other places crowded in there where the young generation including junior high and high school students amass.  

There is a motley mix of diverse shops in great numbers which have their signboards along the narrow street creating a distinct atmosphere. Since this is an area of not high-brand stores but of entertainment facilities and stores for clothing, shoes, and food that are within financial reach of young people, there are massive crowds of folks like high school students on holidays. And for popular stores, there are also scenes of long lines snaking along the street. All of this make up the unique space of Shibuya Center Gai, and it is this atmosphere which makes it one of the highlights of touring Tokyo.

However, there were problems as the street became known for a while as an area of high crime. With fears for the existence of this sort of area, in 2011, there was a change in the name for Center Gai to wipe away the negative image of the area attracting teenage delinquents. The new name of Basketball Street was given from the world of sports which was popular among the young as a way to create a clean image, and the efforts are continuing to clean up the area and provide a safe environment so that tourists and residents can visit in security.

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9 years ago
Great atmosphere both day and night
At night, Shibuya Center Gai is packed with people. Bars, shops, and restaurants pack the streets at ground level and above. People stand outside trying to bring you into their establishments. An authentic feeling of modern Tokyo can be found here. Vehicles advertising the latest singles from J-pop bands drive by bellowing out loud music, neon lights spread seemingly forever, and the sights and sounds of Tokyo create an atmosphere unlike any other. Despite the crowds and noise, the ambiance can be strangely enjoyed, and Shibuya Center Gai is a great place to see people, life, and of course, Tokyo.
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