Ginza, Tokyo. Synonymous with luxury shopping outlets and flashing neon billboards. It is a shopping district located just west of Tsukiji Fish Market and is known for its huge department stores and fancy boutiques. Ginza was once a swamp that was filled in and named after a mint coin factory that was located there during the Edo Period.
Some of the big department stores and flagship outlets that are situated in Ginza are Dior, Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. Apple also have a store here, which is always very crowded! Perhaps the most famous store of all, though, happens to belong to Wako, which is famous for its huge clock tower.
Ginza Station, being the 4th busiest station on the entire network, is well-served by the Tokyo Metro on the Ginza, Maranouchi, and Hibiya Lines. I arrived at Ginza from Shibuya on the Ginza Line and then carried on my journey to Ueno Zoo and eventually to Asakusa for the temples. As with all Asian subway stations, Ginza can get very busy during the peak periods, so plan your day accordingly.
Whatever time of year you visit Tokyo, a trip to Ginza will always be a highlight. The luxury brands here are on sale all year round and it is always nice to make a little mental note of which brands’ logos you can see as you walk past the busy traffic on Ginza’s roads. The Shibuya Crossing is very nearby so you can actually walk between Ginza and Shibuya (realise how busy the roads must be now?) and this stretch of real estate is simply a shopper’s Heaven!
I like to eat when I travel, and here in Ginza, I tried some sushi in the Mitsukoshi Building, where is a lovely food court in the basement, and even though it was around 6pm it didn’t seem too busy. There are also many street vendors around Ginza (many situated in side-streets), which give an economical alternative to the usual expensive food available. I never tried any of this street food, as it began to rain and I was heading back to my hostel in Shinjuku, but Ginza is a place that left an impression on me and it compares very favourably to similar shopping districts that I have visited in the Far East such as Myeongdong in Seoul, or Ximending in Taipei.
It may be best to plan visiting Ginza for some retail therapy in the late afternoon, and then have a bite to eat while you are there. Then afterwards, you can continue your shopping in the night time when Ginza really comes alive. The neon signs and street lighting give the area a fantastic vibe. Unless you are intent on spending all of your money on luxury goods that you don’t need, perhaps there is not much else to do in Ginza other than window shop (a bit like the Dubai Mall) and soak up the atmosphere, but I enjoyed this extravagant side to Tokyo as an alternative to the temples and natural attractions like Shinjuku Gyeon.
For more information on the luxuries of Ginza, and everything else the place has to offer, please take a look at this great selection of blogs from Tokyo Bling.