Ginza Area

 

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.)

GinzaSalads

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!

Stash your perishables here and get your ¥100 back when you pick them up

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.

If you’d like to go to the kabuki, there are several options, from a whole show (three acts) to same-day tickets for viewing just one act, or the Kabukiza Gallery, where ten bucks will get you a five minute glimpse of the current live show and an up close and selfie-friendly experience with some of the props. More info on how to do that here

MAP

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!

This gorgeously animated waterfall is in Ginza Six. It was made by TeamLab (the same folks that brought you the Borderless Digital Museum). It falls from the fifth floor to the third, inside the front wall You’ll find the top next to the Tumi luggage store, and the bottom next to Moschino.

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.

They might not have these exact square fruit balloons, but they always sell some great riff on origami, usually for less than ¥1000

MAP

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.

The Nissan Crossing auto showroom always has a couple of snazzmobiles, decked out in the latest greatest

But those are a little out of my price range, so let’s push on to the KitKat Chocolatory!

This is the swanky Japanese home of the iconic wafer bars, where they sell the only-in-Japan flavors coveted by friends back home
Inside they sell all their “premium” flavors – made from more expensive ingredients – and their limited edition seasonal offerings (which were a somewhat baffling Yuzu Sake and Strawberry Maple flavor when I was last there)
They’ll let us mix & match our own assortment in gift boxes of 3 or 10, at no extra charge
Or we can get our choco noshes personalized! Write the message of your dreams and decide if you want the white chocolate or milk chocolate version, and it’ll be ready 40-60 minutes later

MAP

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.

Be patient - the secret to this amazing cup o'joe is that they take their time with the pouring.
Be patient – the secret to this amazing cup o’ joe is that they take their time with the pouring.

MAP

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:

“Mamegen” is the name of the venerable maker of supremely tasty, traditional, sweet and salty snacks made from roasted soybeans, peanuts and other nuts. There’s a flavor for every taste, from spicy wasabi to green tea. At ¥400-600, these make ideal gifts for friends back home (but be sure to buy enough for yourself too, or you’ll be unable to part with them!)

What’s in my Ginza shopping basket?

Miso peanuts! These are a very traditional Japanese treat, but once friends back home eat one, they can’t stop. The nuts are coated with a sweet-salty miso mixture, then roasted, and they are only-in-Japan DELISH
Had to try these!

GINZA AREA MAP

Most stores in Ginza open from 10:00 am

Click here to explore more

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