Ginza is so last century, but there are still hidden delights well worth seeking out in the most famous luxury shopping ghetto in Tokyo
And the Mitsukoshi department store (exit A7) is the place to start! My favorite floor is downstairs: the food hall. One step inside and you’ll see why.
B-1 (Basement food hall): Desserts, tea, traditional sweets, fresh take-out savory foods (skewered chicken, savory dumplings, tempura, barbequed eel, yakisoba, salads, Chinese food & more.) Everything looks so delicious, it’s like an art museum of every food imaginable, and all of them are from Japan’s most famous makers. (Note: if you buy something – and I dare you to leave without a shopping bag in hand, wafting delicious smells – you have to take it home to eat it – there’s nowhere to sit and eat take-out in the neighborhood.)
B-2: This is a super high-end grocery store, stocked with premium versions of all your favorite Japanese ingredients. If coming home with a suitcase of only-in-Japan fixings is on your shopping list, you’ll certainly find a good selection to choose from here. And best of all, they have refrigerator lockers you can use for free to store your perishables while doing your other shopping!
And even if you think you’re not interested in traditional Japanese theatre (although you should be, and here’s why), just a few blocks away is the Kabuki-za theatre, where the famous white-faced heros, villains and blushing maidens are all played by men.
Back on the dreaded flagship shopping street, I want to show you the one fabulous side effect of the neverending quest to lure free-spending customers: some stores are adding attractions that we can enjoy for FREE!
And while you’re there, the fifth floor has some shops full of amazing modern Japanese design goods. Most are silly expensive, but the one called Cibone also has fab folded paper stuff, like this.
Of course, if luxury shopping is your thing, go have a good time, then join me back here to head to the mother of all KitKat stores. On the way, let’s pause for a moment at the corner to ogle the latest in matte-painted sports rockets.
But those are a little out of my price range, so let’s push on to the KitKat Chocolatory!
While we’re waiting, let’s grab a cup of The Best Coffee In The World. Café Bechet is just around the corner, and I’m never disappointed by the hand-dripped brew made from beans roasted daily, measured out bean by bean, and ground fresh for every cup.
On our way back to the subway station, we need to make a last pit stop at the Ginza Matsuya department store food hall, so I can stock up on killer miso peanuts from this counter:
What’s in my Ginza shopping basket?
Most stores in Ginza open from 10:00 am
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Jonelle Patrick is the author of five novels set in Japan
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist
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