Translated by Greg
Sophisticated Ginza - Urban Walking Route Along Chuo-Dori Street
Written by Misaki Tachibana
Today we take you for a interesting stroll that starts in Ginza 8-chome and ends in Ginza 1-chome. Along the way you'll be introduced to a wide variety of unique shops and stores, and experience a sophisticated atmosphere that only Ginza can offer.
Though there are many people living in Tokyo, Ginza is the kind of place that most don't normally visit, unless they have a specific purpose in mind. But even if you live in Tokyo, going to a place that's a little out of range in your daily life, can almost give you a touristy kind of feeling.
In comparison to well known areas such as Shinjuku and Shibuya, Ginza has a dignified atmosphere that can make you feel a slight bit awkward and out of place. While wondering if it was ok for this unsophisticated and unrefined country bumpkin to go to Ginza, I made my way over there albeit feeling a bit nervous.
Take a Walk Along Chuo-Dori From Ginza 8-Chome
When we say Ginza, the area that this name covers, is actually quite spread out. As a beginner to the whole Ginza experience, I decided that this is one place I have to go to, and so I'll take a walk along the main street that runs from Ginza 8-chome (Shinbashi Station) to Ginza 1-chome.
While cutting through the Ginza area, this street extends straight ahead. This is Chuo-Dori Street, Ginza's main thoroughfare.
On Sundays and holidays, the street gets closed off to traffic and is called hokosha tengoku (literally pedestrian paradise).
It's also apparently one of Japan's Top 100 Roads, a carefully selected list of special routes found throughout the country.
This is the long standing main location of Shiseido Parlour, a restaurant managed by Japanese Cosmetic company Shiseido. It's famous for its cheese cake.
While there, I saw the coming and going of groups of elderly ladies and also families.
This is a duty-free shop called Laox Ginza. Various items are displayed in the shop's glass case, including miniature samurai figures, chopsticks, beauty equipment products, and ornaments. It also looks to be a popular place for visitors walking along with a guide map in one hand.
For those thinking that they'd like to buy a Japanese-style souvenir to get started, this store is quite convenient because shoppers can look over numerous products, regardless of category, all in one location.
As all the stores on both sides captured my attention, parasols in the middle of the street came into view.
Come to think of it, besides the shops lining the street, there aren't any roofs or awnings along Chuo-Dori street.
For those people hot and sweaty with perspiration, the parasols appeared with perfect timing, and groups of twos and threes took a well deserved shopping break here.
Shops specializing in a mix of old and new, also line Chuo-Dori street.
Two of these are Uniqlo, Japan's first fast fashion shop which continues its global expansion, and also Kyukyodo, a long standing shop that carries a wide variety of items including Japanese washi paper and incense.
Though these shops sit beside famous international brand name stores, they have a presence that stands second to none.
Here it is! For many people, the word Ginza conjures up an image of the intersection in the photo above. This is the main crossroad in the Ginza 4-chome area.
On this day, there were many visitors who pulled out their cameras to take a commemorative photo.
Ginza Mitsukoshi, with its circular red logo distinguishing it as a leading department store, and Ginza Wako, symbolized by its large SEIKO clock tower, have both taken their prominent positions here, and stand guard over the intersection in a dignified fashion.
This one point along Chuo-Dori is not closed off to traffic on Sundays like the rest of the street, and so a steady stream of cars and other vehicles go back and forth.
By the way, the street lamps at this intersection use special lights that brighten up colors caught under their illumination. In particular, they are said to enhance the appearance of people walking in front of the Wako building, making them look all the more attractive.
So for all the ladies and gents visiting Ginza, how about taking advantage of these secret special effects and giving them a try?
When you cross the Ginza 4-chome intersection, you'll soon see a bakery called Ginza Kimuraya. The bakery sits on the first floor, and the enticing aroma of freshly baked anpan (bread filled with azuki red bean paste) floats through the air.
This might be a good place to sample some bakery products, then go for a leisurely stroll to help digest them.
In addition, there's a cafe on the second floor, the third has a grill offering Japanese and western-style entrees, and the fourth floor restaurant serves French food.
With a history dating back one hundred and forty-eight years (as of 2017), Kimuraya is an old-timer among many long standing shops along Chuo-Dori street.
As you go past the intersection, more and more of the high brand shops start making their appearance.
Matsuya Ginza is a shopping complex that houses many of the famous fashion brand shops.
Depending on the year, a beer garden often opens up on the roof of the building in the early part of June. So after shopping in the daytime, this looks just like the kind of place where you can drink a beer and cool yourself down in the evening.
I reached my destination in Ginza 1-chome once Ginza Melsa came into view, after setting off from Ginza 8-chome near Shinbashi Station.
Nearby is Ginza 1-chome Station (Tokyo Metro Yurakucho subway line). From here, if you go back in the opposite direction you came from, you might even uncover some additional worthwhile sights.
What Kind of People Gather in Ginza?
During today's sojourn from Ginza 8-chome to Ginza 1-chome, I ran across many kinds of people.
They were essentially characterized by a high class kind of feeling, but the elegance they fashioned as they made their way along Chuo-Dori, was neither flashy nor pretentious.
So this is Ginza, a town where sophisticated and refined people gather.
Honestly speaking, Chuo-Dori street doesn't really give you a sense of daily life. But for the people living in Tokyo, this place can make for a special kind of day outing.
If it's early afternoon on a Sunday in Ginza, this means pedestrian paradise and unlimited space, so one just naturally feels like romping around!
One thing that I noticed as I walked along Chuo-Dori, was the unexpectedly large numbers of families. I think people find this area attractive because it's a mixture of both new and traditional, western and Japanese-style.
Today I saw a variety of people fully enjoying themselves from their own unique perspective: children filled with a sense of wonder and curiosity, all the way up to out-of-country senior citizens, who made a special pilgrimage all the way here to Japan!
Ginza Chuo-Dori Street
Ginza 8-chome area: 5 minutes on foot from exit A3 of Shinbashi Station.
Ginza 4-chome intersection: right near exit A2, A3, A8, A9 of Ginza Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Subway Line, Hibiya Subway Line, and Ginza Subway Line).
Ginza 1-chome area: right near exit 8 and 9 of Ginza 1-chome Station (Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Subway Line).