Going gaga in Ginza

No visit to Tokyo would be complete without a pitstop in Ginza – what was once a delicate suburb has grown into something much more – think of it as an electically neon accentuated shrine to consumerism. Here’s where you’ll want to shop and then refuel afterwards.

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Are you a fashion or food fiend? Better yet, are you both? When you’re in Tokyo next you need to make for Ginza. Famous for its landmark department stores and fine restaurants, this stylish urban district is a must-visit for those who enjoy shopping & dinning. Here’s a guide to Ginza’s main attractions. It’s a must for any food or fashion fiend.

DEPARTMENT STORES

Mitsukoshi Department Store (4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku) is best known for its impressive two-level food hall (B2 & B3), housing over a hundred stalls run by prominent Japanese restaurants, bakeries, sweets shops, tea sellers and more (for delicious, authentic Japanese sweets, try Kayuan on B2). The Ginza Terrace on 9F is also worth a visit. You’ll find the Terrace Garden, Minoru Diner and Minori Café in the green, park-like space. Mitsukoshi offers six floors of women’s and two floors of men’s wear and accessories, from local and international brands.

Matsuya Department Store (3-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku) also boasts an extensive selection of fashion. If you like traditional Japanese items, hop to 7F for beautifully crafted Japanese tableware and kimono. If you’re feeling a little hungry, go down to the food hall on B1 and choose from a variety of freshly made Japanese street foods. The gyouza (fried dumplings) and taiyaki (red bean cake) are especially good. For something more substantial, check out the Restaurant City on 8F, where you’ll find local and international cuisines. The Exhibition Hall – where artworks are displayed – is on the same floor.

For the ultimate luxury experience, head to Wako Department Store (4-5-11 Ginza, Chuo-ku), where you’ll find top quality clocks, watches, jewellery, men’s and women’s wear and interior décor from high-end retailers. The Wako Annex next door houses a plush Tea Salon (2F) and Cake & Chocolate Shop (1F). The Neo-Renaissance style Wako building itself is a sight to behold, especially when lit up at night.

EAT

Head to Bincho (Marronnier Gate 12F, 2-2-14 Ginza) for gourmet unagi (freshwater eel). This first Tokyo branch of a famous Nagoya shop grills their eel over binchotan charcoal and serves it with their own special Nagoya-style tamari sauce. They also have a good sake selection.

Enjoy sushi crafted by the skilled hands of Mr Mizutani inside Sushi Mizutani (Juno Ginza Seiwa Building 9F, 8-7-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku), a small, traditional restaurant with a quiet atmosphere. The abalone nigiri and fatty blue fin tuna are fantastic.

The sushi at Sawada (MC Blg, 3/F, 5-9-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku) is beyond exquisite. You’ll be warmly welcomed by Mr & Mrs Sawada. Mr Sawada personally handpicks his fish from Tsukiji Fish Market every morning and cooks his fish by holding charcoal stones over them. Try the lightly smoked tuna. With only seven seats and two Michelin stars, bookings can be tricky – but worth it.

Ginza Lion (7-9-20 Ginza, Chuo-ku), a German beer hall established in the 1930s, is a popular choice. Their tasty selection of food and beer (try Yebisu, if you’re in the mood for a local brew) are best enjoyed with friends or family after a long day of shopping and walking. The sausages and garlic breadsticks are superb. It’s perfectly okay to indulge yourself once in a while!

Image credits; Newstand, Ginza, Tokyo, 1950 (photographer unknown), Rickshaw, 1938 (Hiroshi Hamaya), Eva Green (Ellen Von Unwerth), Ginza (Joe Eisner), Richard Price.

Bhetty Zhang resides in Sydney. She contributes to publications all over on matters concerning the good and delicious topics of food and travel. She’s an avid reader of the written word, and loves all things retro and vintage. 

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