Looking for fashion, brands, and luxury? Ginza is definitely the place for you! Always energetic and full of people, Ginza has a lot to offer. Its stylish streets and bright lights are a must to capture with your camera! Let’s check out this neighborhood together by looking at its history, its landmarks, what to do, and its best bites.
Ginza’s fortune started during the Edo Period (1603-1868), when the silver coin mint was moved here. Its name, in fact, literally means “silver mint”. During the Edo Period, Ginza grew from an artisans area to a bustling commerce center, and several kimono shops opened on Chuo Dori street, the main street of the area. Towards the end of the Edo Period, Ginza’s fortune started to decrease, so, to be able to keep it alive, a drastic change was made.
The government decided that Ginza would be the first westernized area of Tokyo. The main streets were rebuilt, and the first western-style brick buildings popped up here. Shops with an actual paved floor, as opposed to tatami mats which were the usual up until that time, began to appear. New cafes opened in the streets, like in Europe. From the 19th century onward, Ginza slowly became the fashionable neighborhood that we know today.
Chuo dori is the main street of Ginza. It starts from Nihonbashi and goes all the way down to Ginza. Major department stores such as Matsuya, Ginza Mitsukoshi, and Ginza Six are all located along this street. The street is open to pedestrians during weekend afternoons (times depend on the season), and people can enjoy a nice walk as well as take some cool pictures.
Tokyo’s famous Kabuki theater, Kabukiza, was built in 1889. Kabuki is a traditional Japanese form of entertainment, in which actors perform plays on stage with elaborate costumes and make-up. It can be compared to the western Opera.
You can visit the theater during the day and enjoy its exquisite traditional decor. Go to the rooftop on the 5th floor for a nice view and take some time to relax.
If you decide to watch kabuki, you can rent an audio-guide that will help you understand and follow the dialogue and dynamics of the play during the performance. Be ready to clear your plans for the day, because a kabuki play can last up to 4 hours!
Check out their website for more info.
After Mitsukoshi opened in Nihonbashi in the 17th century, a second one was opened in Ginza, making Mitsukoshi the first department store chain in Japan. Mitsukoshi is famous for its luxurious style. Just like the flagship store in Nihonbashi, Ginza Mitsukoshi has two lion statues at the main entrance, making it a perfect spot for pictures and an easy meeting point. Ginza Mitsukoshi’s entrance opens onto Chuo Dori street, at the famous 4 Chome Crossing. It is located in front of Wako, another famous department store in the area.
The rooftop of Ginza Mitsukoshi is a terrace garden that offers a nice view of the area. Here you can find the statue of Shusshe Jizo-son. This Shinto god statue was moved several times in Ginza before arriving at its final destination on the terrace on top of Mitsukoshi. This statue is quite famous among locals, who often visit and worship it, as it is said to bring benefits in one’s career.
Opened in 2017, Ginza Six is the biggest department store in Ginza. It is by far the most luxurious and modern department store in Tokyo. Its style, contrary to Mitsukoshi’s traditional vibe, focuses on Japanese contemporary art. Definitely worth a visit!
What to Do
Itoya is the most famous stationery shop in Ginza. Born as a tiny shop in 1904, it was renovated and reopened in 2015. It is now a department store with 10 floors all dedicated to stationery. It became famous for selling Japanese and international stationery. You’ll be amazed when you see all the cool items they have! Make sure to stop here and see what Itoya has to offer.
Uniqlo is a Japanese brand clothing shop that is gaining popularity around the world for its good quality and minimalist style. It is possible to find Uniqlo branches in almost every part of Tokyo, but Ginza has a gigantic store with 12 floors. Absolutely worth a visit if you are into Japanese style, but be careful with your wallet! You will end up buying something for sure!
Hakuhinkan is probably the best toy store in Tokyo. It has everything you could be looking for and even more! For the little ones, this shop is like paradise! When you go inside, it will probably bring up a lot of childhood memories. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find a cute treat for your inner child!
The Shiseido Building is dedicated entirely to beauty. Here you can find the latest beauty products and give yourself a treat, with Shiseido counseling on beauty, treatments, photo sessions, and more. Come here to discover the secrets of makeup!
What to Eat
Sukiyabashi Jiro ($$$)
This is not just the most famous sushi restaurant in the entire country, it is a legend. We know it is almost impossible to make a reservation here, but we felt that we had to mention it in our list. Let us know if you make it! 😉
Address: 4 Chome – 2 – 15 塚本総業ビルB1階 Ginza, Chūō
If you couldn’t make to Jiro, here is another amazing sushi restaurant:
Kyubei opened in 1935 and is one of the world’s best restaurants according to La Liste. Order the omakase course and let the chef guide you on a sensory journey.
Address: 8 Chome – 7 -6 Ginza, Chūō
Mugi to Olive ($)
Mugi to Olive has a very modern minimalist decor. They have different broths you can choose from, including: dried sardines, chicken, clams, or a mix of these 3. As the name suggests, they use olive oil in their ramen, which is quite unique. You will find virgin olive oil at the table so that you can adjust the flavour of your ramen as you prefer. Give your ramen a new twist and try this delicious mix of Japanese and western cuisine!
Address: 6 Chome – 12 – 12 Ginza, Chūō
At Sanada they use only fresh seasonal ingredients from Shinshu, the Nagano area. This area is famous for the quality of its food. Get a taste of northern Japan and pair it with a nice sake–at Sanada they have a good selection!
Address: 5 Chome – 6 – 5 Ginza, Chūō 3F
Shabu shabu is a famous kind of Japanese hot pot dish. Here they use the best ingredients and high quality wagyu, or Japanese beef. Zakuro also has an elegant atmosphere that compliments the exquisite cuisine. (opens only for dinner)
Address: 4 Chome – 6 – 1 銀座三和ビル B1F Ginza, Chūō
Ginza Tricolore serves refined coffee, cakes and pastries since 1936. Shopping (or window-shopping) can be exhausting, so why not take a break while enjoying the retro atmosphere of this cafe. A tip? Try their eclair! The creamy custard paired with their house blend coffee is exactly the treat you deserve.
Ginza is the perfect neighborhood for you to indulge in some fancy shopping and stroll around looking at the most famous brands world-wide. Also, each building here is dedicated to a specific brand and is unique in shape and design. Don’t miss the chance to visit it and take your best shots!