Translated by Greg
Ginza - Let's Head Over To Tokyo's High Class Shopping District!
Written by OsawaKimie
Today we feature Ginza, one of Tokyo's elegant and high class shopping districts, home to many boutiques and other exclusive shops. In this article we'll take a look at Ginza from a historical angle, and introduce some of its many charms.
Ginza is one of Tokyo's foremost high class shopping districts, and it fascinates shoppers who visit there.
Its main street is lined with rows of opulent boutiques and department stores, and if you venture down some of the side streets, there are also clusters of eating establishments offering exquisite tasting cuisine and first-class service.
I wonder why Ginza is home to so many high class specialty shops? In today's article, we'll try to understand Ginza from a historical perspective and introduce its many attractive features.
Ginza - A History That's Been Going Strong for 400 Years!
In the beginning of the seventeenth century, Ginza flourished as a silver mint that produced coins and other silver products. Factories and governmental offices that handled silver started sprouting up, and in a short while it became a thriving, energetic town.
After the 1800s, merchants started building shops in Owaricho (the present day Ginza street area).
Then when the nation's first railway was completed in 1872, the Ginza shopping area overflowed with imported European goods, and in the 1900s, department stores such as Ginza Mitsukoshi and Matsuya Ginza made their official debut.
A Shopping Area With Unlimited Variety
In addition to long standing department stores with histories exceeding one hundred years, Ginza is also home to famous international shops such as HERMES and CHANEL, also the Apple store which transmits the latest technology out to the world, and every imaginable kind of specialty store.
On the other end of the spectrum, shops such as Uniqlo and H&M, taking full advantage of the Ginza name brand, have appeared in recent years. Offering consumers high quality fashion goods at reasonable prices, the opening of their flagship stores have garnered a lot of attention.
On Weekends Ginza Street Becomes Pedestrian Paradise!
Starting in 1970, Ginza Street has been closed to vehicle traffic on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
This was called hokosha tengoku (literally pedestrian paradise), and even today this custom continues, allowing shoppers to browse shops in the area freely without having to worry about traffic.
Noteworthy Show Windows and Architecture in Ginza
Now if you have the time to leisurely browse around the Ginza area, let's take note of the various shop show windows as well.
Considered to be highly unusual at the time, show windows starting making their appearance during the latter half of the 1890s. Up until that time, customers took off their shoes and went inside the store, and a sales approach called za-uri (*1), was the mainstream.
Later, the introduction of store window displays using glass shelving, left a strong impact on the world of retail commerce.
*1 Za-uri: this was a method of selling during olden times, in which merchants sat on the floor of the shop beside a pedestal or low table, atop which their goods were displayed for customers.
Also at about this time when European-style architecture began to flourish, Ginza started developing as a shopping district that was one step ahead of the others.
Built in 1929, the Kojun building (right side in above photo) houses name brand shops and restaurants. Being able to enjoy shopping inside a beautiful, historic structure is one of Ginza's many appealing features.
Try Edomae Sushi in Tokyo
Starting with Sukiyabashi Jiro, which was visited by former US President Obama, there are countless sushi shops in Ginza that have received coveted Michelin stars, including Ginza Kyubey, and Sushi Aoki.
Most sushi shops in Ginza are different from the typical kaiten (revolving conveyor belt) sushi shops, in that you can see the sushi chef carefully preparing your order right in front of you, in an open-style kind of setting.
Also, a variety of sushi called Edomae sushi was born about two hundred years ago in Edo (present day Tokyo). Even today you can visit shops in Ginza where the traditions of Edomae sushi have been faithfully preserved.
Since Edomae sushi only utilizes fresh ingredients taken from the waters of Tokyo Bay, the available menu varies from season to season.
One of the characteristic features of Edomae sushi is that the sushi chefs employ a variety of food preparation techniques, depending on what kind of ingredients they're using.
For example, bluefish are usually dipped into a vinegar mixture in order to remove any unpleasant smell, white-fleshed fish are wrapped in kombu seaweed to enhance the flavor, and maguro tuna is often soaked in a soy sauce mixture.
So if you make a visit, you can enjoy watching the chefs performing their culinary magic, regardless of the season.
Explore Ginza At Night
During the daytime, Ginza bustles with activity as a shopping destination. But when the sun goes down, the bars and high class clubs take center stage, and their neon signs light up the rows of shops.
Soon the area is packed with adults looking to enjoy Ginza's night time offerings. With its bars and elegant clubs serving as prestigious social gathering spots, Ginza is also known as a kind of status symbol among affluent Japanese people.
The Ginza Brand Name
Over the years, Ginza has established a strong position for itself, as a gathering spot for the elite from all walks of life. So coming into contact with people, things, and events in Ginza, also means being exposed to the high class, prestigious side of Japan as well.
On your next visit to Tokyo, by all means take the time to visit this area. As you go for a leisurely stroll through the Ginza district, how about experiencing this exclusive, sophisticated side of Japan up close?
Ginza Wako Clock Tower
Address: Tokyo, Chuo, Ginza 4-5-11
Wi-Fi Access: Available（G free）
Credit Cards: Differs from shop to shop
Language support: Depends on the shop
Information in other languages: Difffers from shop to shop
Nearest Station: Ginza Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Subway Line, Tokyo Metro Hibiya Subway Line, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Subway Line)
Price: Depends on the shop
Website: GINZA OFFICIAL