With its neon lights, towering department stores, and trendy nightclubs, Tokyo’s upscale shopping district of Ginza is a chic, cosmopolitan adventure. You can catch a Kabuki performance, check out the latest Japanese film or art exhibition, and dine at some of Tokyo’s best restaurants. And, then, of course, there’s the shopping.
Even if you don’t have the money to splash around at such exclusive stores as Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Chanel, you can still enjoy window shopping at its finest. Highlights include the Sony Building and Hakuhinkan Toy Park. Another must-see attraction is the Wako Department Store, a neo-Renaissance-style building known for its impressive clock tower. You could easily spend hours wandering the area’s other prestigious department stores, such as Mitsukoshi and Matsuya.
Ginza is also a great dining destination, and guided tours of the area tend to focus on its food scene. Tours typically visit neighborhood pubs, popular with locals getting off work, and exquisite confectionery and pastry shops. Another specialized option is an architecture-focused tour. General sightseeing tours of Tokyo (private or group) also typically include a stroll through Ginza.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Ginza is a must-visit for those with an interest in contemporary Japanese culture.
- The neighborhood is also a great destination for entertainment. The Kabuki-za Theater presents traditional Kabuki theater daily.
- The side streets of Ginza are home to many art galleries.
- The department store food halls generously hand out samples, making it easy to fill up cost-free.
How to Get There
Located in Tokyo’s Chuo ward, Ginza is centrally located and easily accessible by subway or taxi. It is served by Ginza station on Tokyo Metro’s Hibiya, Ginza, and Marunouchi lines, as well as Ginza Itchome station on the Yurakucho line and Higashi Ginza station on the Hibaya and Toei Asakusa lines.
When to Get There
Ginza is at its most atmospheric in the evening, when neon lights up the dark sky and the streets are filled with after-work revelers. However, possibly the best time to visit is on Saturday or Sunday, between noon and 5pm, when the main street through Ginza is closed to vehicles, creating Hokōsha Tengoku (“pedestrian heaven”).
From the 17th to 19th century, the Ginza district was the site of a silver-coin mint (Ginza translates as "silver mint"). After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the area evolved as an upmarket shopping district. Today, 10 square feet (1 square meter) of land in the center is worth more than 10 million yen (more than $85,000).