Thursday, 22 October 2009


Ginza is one of my favourite Tokyo neighbourhoods.  There is little in the neigbourhood that is very old - the Wako building was one of the few in the area that survived the bombing of World War II.  It has the reputation of being very posh, matronly and perhaps a little staid, which doesn't give credit to the refined and  understanded elegance, but also to the cutting edge architecture.
Ginza is home to upscale traditional Japanese department stores, most notably Mitsukoshi but also Matsuya and Matsuzakaya.  I rarely venture upstairs to the fashion floors where I can only dream of ever fitting into the clothes, but the basement of Mitsukoshi is a feast for the eyes, nose and mouth of a gourmet, perhaps explaining the fit of the clothes...  Ginza a 'ladies' part of town with kimono shops, sweets and cakes and cafes, handbags & shoes, Japanese traditional paper & stationery, French restaurants and the delicate tastes of Japanese kaiseki ryori.  This is a sharp contrast to next door Shimbashi, salary-man town full of pachinko parlours, standing noodle bars, ramen shops, izakaya, and 'pink' industries.
I almost never buy anything in Ginza, when I first came to Japan and was looking for a handbag for a wedding (at the time the Austrlian dollar was almost 50 to 100 Japanese yen)  a colleague of Hiro's suggested that I should look for a handbag in Wako.  I almost choked when after searching for the cheapest bag in the shop found it to be more than 40000 yen. The average was around 100,000..... But not far from Wako is Uniqlo, still relatively smartly presented, but where a handbag might cost 1000y.
As old buildings get knocked down and replaced, Ginza probably has close to the best collection of modern architecture shopping in the world.
Here are some photos - almost all from Ginza 1-4  - it would be much easier to get good photos with a wide angle lens.

The main drag of Ginza

The de Beers buiding

Hermes Building                                 PIAS building
Fuji-ya building                                                    
 Ricoh Building / Doutor Cafe            Mikimoto II


Bulgari                                             Cartier
        Ito-ya stationery         

Zara                                          A bus stop cafe             

Yamaha Building Tasaki Building

          Cosmos flower boxes

Kyukyodo Japanese stationery
Flower shop outside Doutor coffee shop

Seasonal sweets - chestnut filled 'rice cakes'