The central Tokyo district of Ginza is a an art and shopping mecca, being home to numerous galleries as well as the flagship stores for many domestic and international brands. Although the district’s history dates back to the Edo period (1603-1867), visitors to the Ginza of today will find a neighborhood teeming with modernity – from its towering shopping complexes to its state-of-the-art automobile showrooms.
Main landmarks and attractions in Ginza
Ginza Place: Ginza Place is Ginza’s landmark commercial development, having replaced the old Nissan Gallery. The facade of this stunning, all-white building is was created with 5,315 aluminum panels arranged in a latticed design inspired by Japanese basket weaving. The interior of Ginza Place is no less impressive than its exterior; occupying the first two floors of the building is Nissan’s flagship showroom, Nissan Crossing. In addition to showcasing concept cars and rare classic cars, the showroom features a 360-degree VR simulator that lets users test drive a GT-R supercar.
Canon Gallery Ginza: Don’t be fooled by this gallery’s tiny size; the art space houses an impressive collection of photographs and other visual artwork from both novice shutterbugs and professional photographers. The Canon Gallery Ginza, is one of seven similar spaces dotted around the country, all of which are funded by camera manufacturer Canon.
Ginza Graphic Gallery: You don’t have to be a graphic designer to appreciate the works at this gallery, which also houses an extensive art library. Exhibits rotate regularly and feature rows upon rows of design pieces by renowned designers and illustrators. Ginza Graphic Gallery is conveniently located within a 5-minute walking distance of Ginza Station. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and admission is free.
Kabukiza Theater: Enjoy a performance of traditional Japanese theatrical art, kabuki, at this ornately designed theater. After the show, head upstairs to visit the 5th-floor costume studio and the rooftop garden. The theater can be accessed directly from Higashi-ginza Station on the Asakusa Line. Tickets for a single act are available for those who don’t have time to watch a full performance.
Tokyo Gallery: First opened in 1950, this contemporary art gallery has hosted the works of dozens of internationally-renowned Japanese artists, including Jiro Takamatsu, Kazuo Shiraga, Mono-ha and Taro Okamoto. Recently, Tokyo Gallery has also started showcasing artworks and experimental pieces by lesser-known Chinese and Western artists. Past exhibits include Erasure, a two-artist showcase bringing together music, performance and plastic artworks; and Rough Stones, a presentation of sculptures made from granite, wall clay and roof tiles. Tokyo Gallery is located within a 5-minute walk of Ginza Station (Exit A3). The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Hama Rikyu Gardens: This large park once served as a retreat for feudal lords and imperial households during the Edo Period (1603 -1867). Since opening to the public in 1946, the strolling garden has become a favorite spot to view cherry blossoms, which peak from late February to early March, and the fall colors, which pack in from late October to mid November. In addition to walking trails, the park features footbridges, meadows, benches, a lighthouse a teahouse and a pond that is connected to the sea. Hama Rikyu Gardens is located within minutes of central Ginza, near Shiodome Station (Yurikamome Monorail Oedo Line). The garden is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
Tsukiji Honganji Temple: This Buddhist temple is located just outside of the district, but it’s worth the short subway ride to Tsukiji to tour this 400-year-old architectural wonder. Housed inside of the temple are a café, a bookstore, an information center and a pipe organ boasting no fewer than 2,000 pipes. Tsukiji Honganji Temple also features a memorial to famed Japanese rock rust artist Hideto Matsumoto. The temple is located within a 2-minute walking distance from Tsukiji Station (Hibiya Line). It is open to the public seven days a week, but hours vary depending on the season.
Imperial Palace Cycling Course: Looking for an inexpensive activity the whole family will enjoy? Head out on a biking tour of Tokyo’s most famous tourist sites. This free cycling tour begins in Asakusa, rides through Ginza district and ends at the Imperial Palace. Bi-pedal and tandem bikes are provided by the city of Tokyo, but you can also walk or jog the 2-mile route. The bike desk operates on Sundays only from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located within a 3-minute walk of Nijubashi Station (Chiyoda Line).
Great places to shop in Ginza
Ginza Six: Ginza’s newest shopping mall, Ginza Six, caters to affluent clientele. Fendi, Vivienne Westwood and Yves Saint Laurent are just a few of the flagship stores you’ll find at this shopping center. Ginza Six also features entire floors dedicated to restaurants and a large bookshop, Tsutaya, which is famous for its lovely rooftop garden.
Wako: This luxury department store, owned by watchmaker Seiko, stocks accessories for women and men, as well as housewares from domestic and international brands. Stop by the tea salon on the second floor of the store for a light meal or snack, and don’t forget to check out the art gallery on the sixth floor.
Ginza Mitsukoshi: With a dedicated duty-free store and language concierge services, it’s easy to see why Ginza Mitsukoshi, located just steps from Ginza Station, is so popular with tourists. Shop everything from designer clothing to top-of-the-line housewares at this centrally-located department store.
Apple Store: No tour of the district is complete without a tour of the Apple Store, located inside of the Saegusa Building. Here, you can try out Apple’s latest products, get technical help from the store’s multilingual staff, and attend online lectures using your Apple ID. The store is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and is located within a 2-minute walk of Ginza Station.
UNIQLO Ginza: The Ginza branch of this popular department store is spread over 12 floors and offers the widest range of UNIQLO clothing and accessories in the world. The store is located on Ginza Komatsu East within a 5-minute walk from Ginza Station (Exit A2). It is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Matsuya Ginza: This massive department store offers great deals on clothing, accessories, cosmetics, food and household goods. The store also houses a pet shop, an exhibition hall, a travel agency and an entire floor of restaurants. Among the well-known brands sold at this store are Cartier, Jill Stuart, Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent. All items purchased at Matsuya are exempt from Japan’s 8-percent consumption tax. Matsuya Ginza is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., but the restaurants remain open until 10:00 p.m. The store connects directly to Ginza Station (Exit A12).
Takumi: Crafting enthusiasts will definitely want to check out the diverse range of products sold at this store, which include folk art, ceramics, pottery and household goods. The first floor of the store is dedicated to pottery and glass, while the second floor offers artwork, furniture and textiles. Takumi is located within a 10-minute walk of Ginza Station. It is open from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 pm, Monday through Saturday.
MUJI Yurakucho: Sprawled over 38,000 square feet, MUJI Yurakucho is the largest branch of the popular MUJI chain of stores. You’ll find everything from clothing to cosmetics to stationary at this store, which boasts more than 7,000 products imported from 27 countries. When you’re ready to take a break from shopping take a breather in the MUJI Hut, a miniature house within the store that covers around a hundred square feet and provides seating for up to 4 people at a time. MUJI Yurakucho is located within a 10-minute walking distance of Yurakucho Station (Yurakucho Line). The store is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Best places to eat in Ginza
Daiwa Sushi: Daiwa Sushi is actually located in nearby Tsukiji district, but the sushi here is well worth the short subway ride to Tsukijishijo Station (Toei Subway Oedo Line). You’ll want to be sure to call ahead to reserve a table, as the restaurant is often very busy.
Ginza Sony Park: On the basement level of this pop-up “vertical park”, you’ll find a variety of eateries serving local dishes, along with a café designed by world-famous confectioner Toraya. Ginza Sony Park is directly connected to Exit B9 at Ginza Station.
Bacana Ginza: Head to this Brazilian restaurant for an all you can eat churrasco (Brazilian barbecue), music and live entertainment. The restaurant hosts Samba shows nightly from Tuesday to Sunday. Bacana Ginza is located at 8 Chome-8-1, within a 7-minute walk from Ginza Station.
Bulgari Tokyo: Enjoy fine Italian dining at this 4-star Michelin rated restaurant, located within the 10-story Bulgari Tower. The restaurant shares the same design as Bulgari Milan and boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that provide breathtaking views of the city. Bulgari Ginza Tower is located at Chome 2-7-2, within a short walking distance from Ginza Station (Exit A3).
Yoshitake: For an intimate VIP-style dining experience, head to Yoshitake on the third floor of the Suzuryu Building (8 Chome-7-19). The restaurant has just seven seats and boasts a 3-star Michelin rating. In addition to serving up some of the city’s finest sushi, Yoshitake also offers traditional Japanese delicacies like abalone liver and shirako (cod milt).
Nair’s: Nair’s is an Indian restaurant founded by Ayappan Pillai Mhadevan Nair (Nair-san), whose ties with Japan date back to the Second World War. The restaurant is popular for its Murungi Lunch, a delicious meal consisting of chicken curry, mashed potatoes and boiled cabbage. Nair’s is situated within a 1-minute walking distance of Toei Subway’s Higashi-Ginza Station (Asakusa Line).
Best nightlife spots in Ginza
Ginza 300 Bar: Dance the night away at this chic bar, which is tucked away amid high-end department stores and is known for serving the “Most Authentic Mojito in Japan.” 300 Bar is located in the Murasaki Building at Chome 1-2-14.
Star Bar Ginza: Sip on expertly prepared cocktails and snack on delicious late-night bites at this cozy bar, owned by famous bartender Hisashi Kishi. Star Bar is located at Chome 1-5-13 and is open daily from 5:00 p.m. to midnight.
The Iron Fairies: This aptly named bar is famous for its whimsical decor, extensive wine list and thumping beats, which continue into the early hours of the morning. The Iron Fairies is one of several bars across Asia that were designed by renowned artist Ashley Sutton. The Iron Fairies is located at Chome 9-5. the bar is open nightly from 7:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.
Transportation in Ginza
Ginza Station is the main transportation hub in Ginza. It is served by the Ginza, Hibiya and Marunouchi train lines, which connect travelers to Tokyo Station and Shinjuku Station.
Ginza Line: Connects to Shibuya in the west and Asakusa in the north-west
Hibiya Line: Connects to Roppongi in the west and Ueno in the north
Marunouchi Line: Connects to Tokyo Station in the south, Shinjuku in the west and Ikebukuro in the north-west