The busy and crowded city of Tokyo is filled with shopping and fashion districts. One of the most high-end areas is Ginza. This district, located near the famous fish market of Tsukiji, is considered one of the best luxury shopping areas in the world. During the afternoon and early evenings on the weekend, the main street of Chuo is closed to automobile traffic and is for pedestrians only. Shoppers can be at ease as they wander in and out of the stylish shops and cafes of the area. So how did Ginza become one of Tokyo’s most upscale districts?

Ginza cool

Ginza cool.
Photo by James Justin

Ginza was originally swampland until the Edo era. The area was filled in and buildings arose from the bog. From 1612-1800, the area was the center of minting silver coin. The work “gin” in Japanese means silver. It’s only natural that former money-making area became a shopping paradise. The department stores and boutique shops are catered towards both the young and old. Ginza has something for everyone, if you have the yen. You can have the pleasure of drinking a 1,000 yen cup of coffee (around $10 dollars) and shop at famous brand name stores. Ginza is not the place for low-budget finds. However, Ginza has more to offer than Burberry and Dior.

Ginza is home to the Kabukiza Theater where you can enjoy Kabuki plays all year round. You can visit the most high-end department store in Ginza, Wako. You can find it by looking for the giant clock tower on the building. The area is full of trendy and upscale restaurants for high end palates. For those wanting a more traditional eating experience, food stalls can be found in a tunnel underneath Harumi-dori. Car lovers will enjoy visiting the Nissan museum. In November, residents and visitors can enjoy streets lit up with Christmas lights. The back alleys of Ginza are lit with lanterns and full of fun mysteries.

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Fix your hair in front of Wako.
Photo by Tony Murphy

Ginza has other claims to fame. Parts of the original Godzilla movie were shot here. Godzilla destroyed Wako’s famous clock tower and the store during the film. You can even find a small statue of the monster king himself in the area. Ginza is referred to as a “Bricktown” due to the rebuilding of the area after its wooden buildings were destroyed in a fire. Ginza, an area originally designed by British architect Thomas Waters in 1872, has undergone many changes to become the commercial giant it is today. People of Tokyo see it as a place where they can revel in shopping and luxury. In other words: it’s not a place for people with thin wallets.