There are many things that can cause stress to a person. It can range from personal issues to work problems and coping with these can sometimes be really hard. Some people address the stressors in their lives face on while others tend to shrug it off and move on. There are people, usually women, who release stress by crying. There is a scientific explanation behind this, but the action is usually effective. There are also others who release stress through vigorous exercise in order to release endorphins, considered as happy hormones, in their body. Physical relaxation such as going to the spa and getting a massage can also help reduce stress. Mental relaxation by reading or doing any action that calms the mind can also aid in decreasing the amount of stress that one is feeling.
On the other hand, there are others who are able to fight stress by the feeling of exhilaration. One way of getting this is by traveling and being able to go to another place and refresh not just the mind but also the body. Combine this with retail therapy, which is relieving stress by shopping, and one is already good to go. Being able to do both is like hitting two birds with one stone and where better to do this than in Ginza in Tokyo, Japan? Not only would one be able to explore new sights and places and be immersed in the Japanese culture, but would also be able to get that incredible shopping experience that is offered by none other than Ginza.
Ginza in Tokyo, Japan: Facts, Map, History
To start off, Ginza is located in Tokyo, Japan. A district of Chuo-ku, Ginza is situated in the northern part of Shinbashi, the eastern part of Yurakucho, the western part of Tsukiji, and the southern part of both Yaesu and Kyobashi. Currently, Ginza is most well-known for the shopping experience that it has to offer. Not only is it popular locally but is also famous all over the world for its shopping districts. The location itself is considered upscale and luxurious with several renowned boutiques and department stores along with restaurants and coffeehouses, all well-known internationally.
However, not many know the history of Ginza. Its location was originally just a swamp though it was later filled in during the 16th century. The name itself, Ginza, which translates to “silver mint,” was only finalized upon the time when a silver coin mint was founded in the same place during the Edo period in the year 1612. Ginza was considered as a “model of modernization” by the Meiji government after the disastrous fire that destructed a huge part of the area in the year 1872. Fireproof buildings made of brick were then constructed and bigger streets were built that served as a connection between Shimbashi Station and the foreign concession in Tsukiji, as planned by the government.
The construction of these buildings and roads were handled by the Bureau of Construction of the Ministry of Finance while the designs came from an Irish architect by the name of Thomas Waters. A shopping promenade in Western style was then built just the following year along with two- and three-storey buildings made of brick and in the Georgian style. These buildings were situated on the street that connected the Shinbashi Bridge and the Kyobashi Bridge. Called the “bricktown” buildings, these structures were either put on sale or were leased, but they were not completely occupied due to the high rent.
Due to the Western design of the area, many foreigners were not delighted by the idea at the time as they were looking for a more traditional, Edo style. Nonetheless, Ginza prospered and became a symbol of “civilization and enlightenment.” The popularity of the area grew as newspapers and magazines showed and spread the current trends in fashion and other aspects. This helped establish Ginza as among the leading places in Tokyo that house the latest fashion trends in the industry, which only strengthened after the Great Kanto Earthquake in the year 1923.
Because of the amount of traffic of people that it gets every year, Ginza is presently among the most expensive real estate in the country. Just a single square meter of land in the center of Ginza can amount to more than 10 million yen. The area is also quite infamous as the place where a cup of coffee from a specific store costs about $10. As the place specifically for shopping, almost all leading brands in the fashion and cosmetic industry have a presence in Ginza.
Aside from shopping, Ginza is also well-known for its respect for pedestrians. The major street through Ginza called Chuo Dori is shut off to cars and other vehicles every Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 5:00 pm from the month of April to September to give way to pedestrians. Here, a lot of people walk freely along the streets, mostly families bringing along their children and enjoying their walk. This event is known as Hokosha Tengoku or Hokoten, which literally translates to “pedestrian heaven.”
As for modes of transportation, there are subway stations all over Ginza that one can get off to at a certain time. One option would be getting off at Ginza Station on Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, or Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line. Another option would be getting off at Ginza-itchome Station on Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line. Last but certainly not the least, one can also opt to get off at Higashi-Ginza Station on either Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line or Toei Asakusa Line.
Shopping in Ginza: Ginza Wako, Ginza Six, Tokyu Plaza Ginza, and More
Because Ginza is most well-known for shopping, then it is no wonder that several places in the area were built and designed especially for that purpose. There are various shopping places all over Ginza that one may check out. Among the top places would be Ginza Wako. Constructed in the year 1932, Ginza Wako is located at the northwest corner of the Ginza 4-Chome junction of Chuo and Harumi Dori. Standing at the center of the district, the Ginza Wako building contains the clock tower that serves as the symbol of Giza and is a must-see for all visitors. Shops can be found inside the building, selling jewelry and other luxury items. These shops are open from 10:30 am to 7:00 pm.
For the major shopaholic, look no further than Ginza Six. Currently, Ginza Six is the biggest shopping complex in all of Ginza. Having just opened in the Spring of 2017, shoppers would go crazy over the many options and products that are being sold in Ginza Six. Certain floors are devoted to specific genres; there are floors that only house cosmetic and beauty products while there are also others that only sell foods and interior design. Even for artists, there is a huge Tsutaya bookshop that sells great art publications. Other features of this shopping complex include a beautiful rooftop garden and a Noh theater located in the basement. Ginza Six is open everyday from 10:30 am to 8:30 pm while the restaurants are open from 11 am to 11:30 pm.
Another great place to shop is in Tokyu Plaza Ginza. Also a newly opened shopping complex, it contains 14 floors that feature not just shops but also restaurants of various cuisines. Having only opened in the year 2016, Tokyu Plaza Ginza also has two floors that offer tax-free shopping for foreign visitors. After a tiring day of shopping in all 14 floors, customers can head on to the open rooftop wherein they would be welcomed by the view of the city, which is especially beautiful at night. This shopping complex is open from 11 am to 11 pm everyday while the restaurants are open until 11 pm.
Other places to check out for shopping are Mitsukoshi, Matsuya, Marronnier Gate, Itoya, and, of course, Uniqlo. These shopping places would definitely not disappoint as they offer various options and the products being sold in these places are diversified from books for people who like to read to beauty and cosmetic products for people who love taking care of their skin and putting on makeup. Several styles of clothes can also be found in these shopping places. If one would like to explore another side of Ginza, one may opt to go to the Kabukiza Theater, Ginza Place, or Police Museum.
The Best Restaurants and Bars in Ginza: Sushi and Other Drinks
While shopping is the most usual thing to do in Ginza, trying out their restaurants would also be another great thing to do. There are many restaurants in Ginza that are famous for various specialties. If one is in Japan, it is only quite natural to look for sushi and Ginza houses great restaurants that offer just that. Probably the best restaurant that provides sushi in their menu is the Umegaoka Sushi no Midori Sohonten. Located at 7-108 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061, this restaurant is popular for their sushi lunch sets that include sushi, salad, chawanmushi, and dessert. Not only is the food delicious but the price is also quite affordable. Due to its popularity, the place can get pretty jam-packed so arriving early to the restaurant is recommended. They also do not accept reservations so the only option is either going early or falling in line. Other food offers include traditional sushi plates, grilled fish, salmon roe, and sea urchin.
For tonkatsu, a must-try restaurant is Bairin. Its first venue was in Ginza and seats inside the restaurant are limited. With only 18 table seats and another 18 for counter seats, Bairin gets full pretty easily due to its popularity. Aside from their delicious tonkatsu, they also offer great katsu don, which is fried breaded pork placed on top of rice and served with an egg. As for drinks, one need no longer look for bars just to get access to alcohol. A lot of restaurants in the area serve alcohol as among the main beverages on their menu. A popular drink to have while eating a scrumptious Japanese meal is sake or rice wine.
Good Hotels for Staying in Ginza
Shopping can be a bit tiring especially when done for the whole day. Sometimes, a single day may not even be enough to be able to check out all the places on one’s list. Hence, sleeping overnight in a hotel may be an option. There are various hotels in Ginza that provide great services and accommodations to visitors. The price, however, may vary depending on how luxurious the hotel is and the type of room chosen. Possibly the best and also the most luxurious hotel in all of Ginza is The Peninsula Tokyo. With 24 floors, the hotel has various departments that would be more than willing to accommodate its guests to their needs. The features of the hotel itself are also great and include main gardens, indoor pool, and indoor spa.
Located at 1-8-1 Yuraku-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Tokyo-to, 100-0006, The Peninsula Tokyo has front desk officers that are helpful to the queries and requests of the guests. Because it is a 5-star hotel, they also get a number of foreign visitors. Hence, receptionists know how to speak English and are always ready to guide visitors on the how-tos in Ginza. As for other hotel options that are also great to stay in when in Ginza and have commendable services, they are Imperial Hotel, Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza Premier, Remm Hibiya, and Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo.
There are still a lot of things that can be done in Ginza and many more places that can be visited. However, probably still the best part of one’s visit in Ginza is the shopping experience. Shopping in Ginza is definitely unlike any other as they take shopping to the next level. With various shopping complexes and a plethora of products to choose from, along with the great services that they provide, one’s time in Ginza would most certainly be worthwhile.