Ginza has always been known as the luxury shopping district of Tokyo, but it’s the hidden delights that are well worth seeking out.
Like Art Aquarium! This used to be a seasonal event, but now there is a permanent installation called the Art Aquarium Museum.
The Mitsukoshi department store (exit A7) is a worthwhile dip into the best of the famous department stores, and 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 there are some (like the one called Cibone) which have less expensive goods, like this:.
But those are a little out of my price range, so let’s push on to the KitKat Chocolatory!
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.
On our way back to the subway station, we need to make a last pit stop at the Matsuya Ginza department store food hall, so I can stock up on killer miso peanuts from this counter:
Most stores in Ginza open from 10:00 am
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