Ginza is a famous shopping district, but you can learn a lot about Japan just by walking through the stores, especially the food halls.
Let’s start at the Mitsukoshi department store (exit A7).
My favorite floor is downstairs: the food hall!
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 is truly delicious, but if you buy something, 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, with refrigerator lockers you can use for free to store your perishables while doing your other shopping!
Let’s go back to the 1st floor and find the street exit, which goes out diagonally to a corner (through the scarf and hat department). Let’s cross the street to our right. On the next block is the Matsuya department store. Let’s go up the escalator near the front door.
My favorite floor at Matsuya is housewares (on 5). It’s small, but has an excellent selection of traditional Japanese dishes and utensils. If we circle around the escalator well to our right, we’ll pass a few boutiques of interesting fabric items by Nuno (on the left) and an Italian design area (on the right). Then we’ll reach a gallery-like space and the kimono department. The kimono department is not very impressive at this store, but the gallery space always features talented artists. The exhibits change every week.
Let’s go back out to street level and turn right. On the next block and down a little alley is the Ito-ya stationery store. It’s well worth riding the elevator up and walking down through every level. You’ll be astounded by the huge variety of paper, pens, invitations, boxes, art supplies and gift items, including lacquerware flash drives that come in their own signed wooden boxes.
If we walk back toward Mitsukoshi and cross the street, we’ll find the Mikimoto Pearl Store and Museum. Mikimoto pioneered pearl cultivation, and their museum is great. They have all kinds of weird and wonderful things (like a shrine model and a Liberty Bell) made from pearls.
And now it’s time for 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.
Most stores in Ginza open from 10:00 am
And while you’re there, read a novel set in Tokyo!
“A genuinely gripping crime thriller which wrong-foots and perplexes the reader throughout, drawing us in emotionally . . . Highly recommended.”