Ginza

A shopper's paradise in Tokyo

 By Megan Steckly   Nov 5, 2012

Bustling streets, crowded shops, gorgeous clothes, and high-end brand names are all synonymous with the fabulous Ginza area.

Located in the heart of Tokyo, Ginza is known as one of the best shopping districts in the world. With a myriad of well-known prestigious European and Western brands, Ginza is also host to many exceptional Japanese designers and is an excellent place to get a taste of the fashion culture in Tokyo. Designers include and are not limited to, Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vutton, Van Clef and Arpels, Mitziyaki Pearls, Chloe, Kaon and Muller of Yoshiokubo.

Established as a center for modernization in Tokyo, Ginza was one of the first places to introduce numerous civil engineering projects including paved roads and unique architecture. Once home to advertising offices and government buildings, these buildings have migrated to hosting fashion boutiques and excellent restaurants. As this area has grown, the tradition of unique architecture has persisted resulting in striking shop fronts throughout the area. Perhaps the most famous structure which retains a taste of old is the iconic Wako building. Complete with a tower holding a Seiko clock face, it is pretty hard to miss.

After spending a bit of time in Japan most travelers notice the high standards of dress and unique style, which is rampant throughout the culture. Manicured and exceptionally presented suits on both men and women during the week set a standard for good grooming unsurpassed in most other countries on the same scale. And while a weekend in Harajuku sets an incredible precedent for self-expression and creativity in fashion, the style in Ginza is considerably more subtle, elegant and expensive. Either way, there is an amazing sense of meticulousness, which goes into every fine detail of the clothing, accessories and styling.

To gather a full appreciation of this meticulousness, simply wander through one of the beautifully appointed and presented department stores.The Mitsukoshi department store chain is one of the largest in the country, or perhaps you’d rather visit Matsuzakaya, which boasts a history that dates from 1611. Of course all the shops in Ginza are recommended and if shopping is your passion, be sure to leave plenty of time to explore.

For the guys, perhaps the Sony building will be of interest. Displaying all the latest products from Sony there is plenty to keep you intrigued and interested here. Or the next door Galerie Nichido for art aficionados. The police museum is also open and free to explore. Note however that the displays are most all in Japanese but nonetheless interesting even if you can't read the details.

For those less interested in wandering the shops, you can dabble in some of the edible wonders available. Highly recommended is the Manneken waffle shop. These waffles, although Belgian in reference are actually a Japanese creation and fascination; rightfully so as they’re fabulous. Never without a line, it’s worth the wait to taste one of the freshly made warm waffles. Snack size, they are perfect for with a cup of coffee (perhaps from the interesting Cafe de L'Ambre) or buy a box to take home as a reminder of your time. Manneken waffles can come plain, flavored or stuffed with flavored cream and are a bargain at between 120-240 yen individually.

For another interesting uniquely Tokyo experience, head to the basement of one of the department stores. Here you will find an underground market full of incredible fresh fish, prepared foods and the most gorgeous chocolates and desserts you have ever seen.

On that note, sweets are something of an art in Japan and the opportunity to immerse yourself in these delectable treats is readily available. Wind your way down a side ally and you may come across a number of cake or chocolate shops with cafes above them. This is a decadence that's sure to impress anyone.

If you’re hoping to grab lunch or dinner, there are many restaurants and cafes in the area where to you can rest tired feet or try some upscale dining.

Written by Megan Steckly
JapanTravel Member

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Kathryn Spoor 3 years ago
Great article! This is a great place to window shop and browse. Being a car lover I also enjoyed the Nissan show room. Great place to visit!