During our trip to Tokyo, we stayed at the Conrad Tokyo in the Shiodome area. It’s a short walk from the famed shopping district – Ginza.
Ginza real estate is the most expensive in Japan. Naturally you’ll find the most expensive brands here. And supporting those retailers is a huge volume of shoppers.
I went there twice. The first time the GF and I wandered up and down the street. A couple days later I went back to wander amongst the side streets.
The first day, I took pictures primarily with my Pentax DA Fish-Eye 10-17mm lens. The second day I used some more conventional glass.
Not only were the streets filled with pedestrians, it seems a large number of them carried umbrellas not for the rain, but to protect themselves from the sun.
Here’s another shot of the building a couple days later.
Across the street another building gave us plenty of brands. The Ricoh ad dominates. Below that you can make our the Ichibon logo.
All I really know about Ichibon is what I learned on Friends. Joey did a commercial in Japan promoting Ichibon – Lipstick for me.
Below that is Cafe Doutor – a local chain of coffee shops.
Up the block from there, you’ll find the Seibu department store across a massive intersection.
Matsuya is another one of the major department stores in Ginza.
Department stores in Tokyo are more than just expensive brands. They are also great places for inexpensive food. A tourist on a budget, or a tourist looking for a wide variety of fantastic food should definitely visit the basement food courts of the department stores. Individual stalls sell entrees, snacks, desserts, pastries, breads, gifts, coffee, candy and more. Most of it is fresh and hot – cooked right there.
I did have a few language challenges in there, but that was likely me being timid. I’m happy to point at stuff, but its tough to buy stuff that’s sold by quantity or pound or kilogram, and whatever when I don’t speak the language. But I still managed some tasty acquisitions and all the vendors I engaged with were very friendly.
Definitely explore those courts, even if you’re not hungry. After a few minutes, you will be.
Down this side street, you can see a curved building. It’s the DeBeers building.
While we didn’t see an modern Mini Coopers on the street, you could purchase one in Ginza. I did see a few vintage Mini Coopers tooling around the streets, though.
For lunch we stopped at the Sapporo Beer Hall. I think I had an ox tongue marinated in something and some beer. Why did we stop here? Well, the plastic food out front looked good. And how can you go wrong with a beer hall in the most expensive neighborhood in the city?
If you need new shoes, you can always stop by Ferragamo.
On weekends they close the streets to traffic, and pedestrians can wander freely. There were chairs and benches set up in the street. And yet most people still walked on the sidewalk and crossed at the crosswalks.
You can’t throw an Orange Julius in a US mall without hitting an Abercrombie and Fitch , though sometimes you might like to throw other things.
In Ginza, Abercrombie is apparently less common. Here there is a line around the corner of people waiting to get in. And it’s not like the store just opened for the day. This is late in the afternoon.
I liked this scene. The lanterns on the third floor seemed to contrast with everything else on the block.
In the dazzle of the main Ginza thoroughfares, its easy to overlook the side streets, but don’t. There’s some great stuff down there – both shopping and food.
Ginza is a fascinating place. It’s a great combination of European and American brands and flavors. And at the same time, it is distinctly Japanese.