Ginza is known for being Tokyo’s number one up-scale shopping district, with numerous department stores and international brands located in the area. The exclusive neighbourhood is located in Chuo city, on the eastern side of Central Tokyo. It is one of the best places to see the both modern as well as old architecture blended in seamlessly with each other.
The high-end shopping district is also one of the most expensive areas nationwide. Here you can find the infamous $10 coffee’s and almost every leading brand name has an outlet in the area. In 2019, Ginza was noted six times on the list of top 10 spots on the highest land price (commercial use) in Japan! With the highest land price being ¥57 million per sq. meter! It will come as no surprise that many famous (international) brands have a store in this fancy area. But there is much more to see! From beautiful architecture, to historical highlights and from amazingly fresh food to your so much needed quiet nature, Ginza has it all! In this article we tell you our favorite places to go and experiences to have in Ginza.
- Kabukiza – see the traditional form of Japanese theatre
- Chuo dori – shop till you drop
- Art & Architectural highlights
- Dining in Ginza – from exclusive dining to eating along the train tracks
- Police Museum – learn more about the blue forces
- Hamarikyu Gardens – find some serenity in the concrete jungle
- Tsukiji Market – discover the Japanese food culture
- Imperial Palace – the emperor’s primary residence
- Tokyo Station / Marunouchi – architectures’ paradise
Why is Ginza called Ginza?
Ginza is written using two kanji’s: 銀 (gin) meaning silver and 座 (za) literally seat, but in this case it is referring to association or guild. The district of Ginza has been home to Tokyo’s number one shopping district since the reconstruction of the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. However, back in the days in the Edo period, there was a silver mint located on the grounds, where the shogunate minted silver coins. Hence the name Ginza!
Fun fact: in Nihonbashi housed 金座 kinza, the gold (kin) guild.
Kabukiza is Japan’s main and biggest theatre for Kabuki – a traditional Japanese form of theatre – is to be found in Ginza. The building was completely renovated and reopened in 2013, since then consisting of the Kabukiza theatre and the Kabukiza tower (office tower). Moreover, it houses the Kabuki gallery, shops and a restaurant. Kabukiza is one of the best places to go and see a traditional Kabuki play, with almost daily shows throughout the year. Tickets typically cost between ¥4,000 and ¥22,000 (depending on the season and seating) for the entire play, but you can also visit just a single act with tickets prices around ¥2,000. The tickets can be bought at the door and some performances are audio-guided in English.
Tickets starting at ¥2,000
One minute walk from Higashi Ginza station exit 3
Shopping paradise – Chuo Dori
As mentioned earlier, Ginza is Tokyo’s most famous high-end shopping district, with almost every leading (international) brand having a shop in the area. The main street of the area is Chuo Dori, which translates into Central Avenue, a 1km long street lined with large department stores and small boutique shops on both side of the street. On the weekends and national holidays, Ginza’s main street becomes inaccessible for cars from noon till 5pm (Oct. – Mar.) or 6pm (Apr. to Sep.), making shopping in Ginza extra fun! But don’t limit yourself to Chuo-dori only, the side streets also have a lot to offer. Most shops offer tax free shopping for foreigners, so don’t forget to bring you passport.
Some of the most popular (department) stores in the area:
Mitsukoshi Ginza Store
The Ginza location of Mitsukoshi opened its doors in 1923, but the history of this department stores dates back to the 17th century! The Ginza shop comprises 12 floors, don’t forget to check out the food floor – a foodie paradise!
Shops 10am – 8pm
Restaurants 11am – 11pm
This popular Japanese retailer is known for its affordable and good quality clothing. UNIQLO’s flagship store in Ginza spans 12 floors and has the biggest product range in the whole world.
11am – 9pm
Tokyu Plaza Ginza
The Tokyu Plaza Ginza on Nishiginza-dori street is the largest shop in the Ginza area with an open rooftop offering amazing views of the Tokyo.
Shops 11am – 9pm
Restaurants 11am – 11pm
Ginza6 is a stylish and architecturally impressive building, that is also the area’s biggest department store, with more than 240 shops under one roof!
Shops 10.30am – 9.30pm
Restaurants 11am – 11.30pm
Art & Architecture
The Ginza district has been a vibrant art scene for centuries. From architectural high rise buildings to small-scale art gallery, this neighbourhood has a lot to offer! When you are into art exhibitions, visit the classic Shiseido Gallery or the more glamorous Maison de Hermes. Stroll around and discover some gorgeous art galleries in the city’s art district.
Some of the architectural highlights in Ginza
- Wako (Jin Watanabe)
- Maision Hermes (Renzo Piano)
- Nakagin capsule tower (Kisho Kurokawa)
- CHANEL GINZA (Peter Marino,)
- Mikimoto (Toyo Ito)
- Armani (Doriana & Massimiliano Fuksas)
- Tiffany (Kengo Kuma)
- Dior (Peter Marino)
- Kabukiza (Kengo Kuma)
- Ginza place (Klein Dytham architecture)
- Matsuya (Kenya Hara)
- Louis Vuitton (Jun Aoki)
In this small museum you can learn more about everything there is to know about the nation’s police force. It will also help you understand why Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world! Unfortunately English information is limited, but the items on display, including swords and uniforms from the Meiji era, are still fun to see! Also, children can dress up in the ‘experience corner.
9.30am – 5pm Tuesday – Sunday
Dining in Ginza
Probably the most famous restaurant in Ginza, or perhaps in Tokyo, is the Sukiyabashi Jiro, owned by sushi chef Jiro Ono. It is said to be the world’s best sushi restaurant and was the first to obtain 3 Michelin stars in 2007. Because of its enormous popularity, the restaurant, however, is no longer open to the public and hence was stripped of its stars in 2019.
If you do not want to spend a fortune on one of the many exclusive dining experiences that are offered in Ginza, or if you prefer a more local, low-key setting, make your way to the tracks of Yurakucho station. Under the arches of the tracks, many typical Japanese restaurants like Izakaya, yakitori and beer houses are established. Eat your heart out!
This beautiful Japanese garden, overlooking Tokyo Bay, is a welcoming serene oases in the concrete jungle of Tokyo. The gardens are are one of the most famous in Tokyo and is located right next to Tsukiji Market near Ginza area. It was remodelled as a public garden on the site of a villa of Tokugawa family, the famous shogun of the 17th century. The garden is stunning all year round, but especially during the famous sakura and autumn season. You can also enjoy matcha at a tea house by the pond.
Tip: Free guided tours are offered in English on Monday morning (10.30am) and Saturday morning (11am)
9am – 5pm
- 7 minute walk from Shiodome station
- 10 minute walk from Shimbashi Station
From Hamarikyu Garden you can also start a boat tour cruising the Sumida River!
Tsukiji Market (inner market)
Technically also not located in Ginza, but only 10 minutes by foot away, Tokyo’s famous fish market is a great addition to include on the itinerary. Tsukiji fish market is a great place to start the day, the earlier you go, the more fresh fish and vegetables are to be seen and consumed! In 2018, the wholesale market of Tsukiji moved to Toyosu (including the popular tuna auction), but the inner market still remains. Here you will find numerous shops offering typical Japanese products and snacks and of course fish. It is definitely one of the best places to go for fresh fish!
Because of its rich history and wide range of (Japanese) products, we recommend you visit the market with a guide. During our food and drink tour, the guide will not only explain about the market and all the items available, you will also taste many items that belong to the Japanese cuisine!
On the way between Tsukiji Market and Ginza, you will spot the beautiful Tsukiji Honganji Temple. This is the only Jodo Shinshu Buddhism temple with beautiful ancient Indian motif made out of stone in Tokyo!
The current Imperial Palace is located in Tokyo on the former ground of the Edo Castle, slightly north from Ginza. On the palace grounds both the Imperial Palace as well as the Residential palace are located since the Meiji Revolution in 1868. It is not possible to see the primary residence of the current emperor or Japan, it is surrounded by a moats and stone wall and located amidst a park-like area and generally the inner palace grounds are closed to the public. Except for January 1st and February 22nd (Emperor’s birthday), when member of the the Imperial Famlily come also out and greet the visitors.
Tip: Free guided tours in English and Japanese are available from Tuesday till Saturday. They require signing up which can be done online or at the Kikyomon Gate, the starting point of the tour. The tour lasts approximately 75 minutes and start at 10am and 1.30pm.
Right next to the starting point of the tour you will find the Imperial Palace East Gardens. These gardens are always freely accessible for the public, except for Mondays and Fridays when they are closed.
9am – 5pm (Mar. 1 – Apr. 14 & Sept.)
9am – 6pm (Apr. 15 – Aug.)
9am – 4.30pm (Oct.)
9am – 4pm (Nov. – Febr.)
Tokyo Station / Marunouchi Area
Next to being the biggest (not busiest) station of Japan, where many board the Shinkansen or the local trains, Tokyo station is also an architectural highlight. Many compare it the station of Amsterdam. The red-brick station indeed shows some resemblance to the station in the Netherlands, though, the architect was more influenced by the British Victorian style as opposed of the Renaissance and Gothic styles. The station is visited by many just for its’ looks. In the Marunouchi area, east of Tokyo station, you can easily spot many different buildings, from historical construction to flashy, cutting edge architecture. Architectural lovers will have a field day!
If you want to gain an insight into the changing urban landscape in a unique area of the city of Tokyo, we are more than happy to guide you around. You can let us know your interests so that we can customise your tour! Read more about our private tours.
We hope we gave you some good tips on what you can do in the Ginza area and its’ surrounding. It is definitely worth a visit! Let us know if you have any tips for us. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook for more travel inspiration. Or tag us to get featured!