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last update: January 21, 2015 Ginza is in the special ward of Chuo. It is the luxury fashion district, something like Via Monte Napoleone (Milano) or the Fifth Avenue (New York), but bigger.

The neighborhood

In this area you can find a number of department stores, luxury shopping centers and huge stores of all the big fashion brands in the world .
Just to give you an example, in Ginza you can find the Armani Ginza Tower, a twelve-storey modern building dedicated to Giorgio Armani, including the exclusive Armani health club and Armani restaurant.
You can also find things like that of Gucci, Dior, Bulgari, Swarovski, Hermes, and many other major international brands.
Please note that prices, as regards foreign brands, are crazy, much more than in Europe, this is basically the reason why this kind of stores in cities like Milan, London or Paris are systematically full of Japanese tourists.
On weekends the main street is closed to traffic. Beyond stores and department stores, there is virtually nothing to "visit" in the strict sense of the word, just the Kabuki-za Theater.

Kabuki-za Theater

The main stage of the city where to watch a Kabuki theater performance.
The building has a traditional exterior, and is certainly attractive in the eyes of a foreigner, but, beyond this, there aren't any other interesting peculiarities, the old structure was demolished and today's one was rebuilt between 2010 and 2013, and the inside is equal to that of modern cinemas.

How to attend a performance of kabuki at the Kabuki-za Theatre in Tokyo
The Kabuki-za Theatre is probably the best place for a foreigner who wants to attend a performance of Kabuki. In fact, everything is designed to facilitate the tourists and many of the employees at the theater can speak English. You can find brochures in English about the works you are about to attend, and it is also possible to rent audio guides for the price of 700 yen (further information here), and soon it will start operating an innovative rental system of small monitors to read subtitles.
At this link (in English) you can find all the information needed to see the shows, and also buy tickets online paying by credit card. In this case, simply insert the card used for the payment in specific machines on site in order to collect your tickets. The rates for a full show range between 4,000 and 21,000 yen (here the seating chart).
An entire show of Kabuki is divided into several acts, with pauses between an act and the other during which you can also eat, and these shows can last a total of several hours.
There is also the option of attending only one or more acts of a certain show, with discounted tickets that can be purchased directly on the spot in a specific ticket office. For fans of technology there is also a big Apple store, and the Sony Building, a building that is not only the best stocked shop Sony on the planet, but also home to a showroom with prototypes and new products that still have to be released on the market.
Other showrooms of major companies like Canon and Nikon are located in Ginza.

For photography lovers

What I have already written is what people usually know about Ginza, a heaven-district for fashion lovers. But Ginza can be a very interesting district also for photography lovers, but few people know this.
Infact in Ginza there are some showrooms of the world giants of photography... :
Nikon Salon: (open everyday 10.30-18.30) one of the few Nikon showrooms in Japan is located in Ginza, you can find another one in in Shinjuku inside the L Tower. This salon always hosts exhibitions of emerging photographers that can be visited for free, as well as various Nikon cameras on display.
At this link you can find the calendar of exhibitions of all the Nikon Salons in Japan;
Canon Plaza: (opening hours 10.30-18.30, closed on sundays) practically the same as the Nikon Salon, but owned by Canon. It houses a showroom with Canon products and photographic exhibitions that can be visited for free. Unfortunately an english calendar is not available, just in japanese;
-Leica Gallery: (opening hours 11-19, closed on sundays) the prestigious German company has only five "galleries" in the world and one of them is located in Ginza, Tokyo. At this link the calendar of exhibitions;
-Shiseido Gallery: (open everyday 11-19, 11-18 on sundays) an art gallery with free admission that sometimes also hosts photographic exhibitions. At this link the calendar.

Regarding other Japanese giants of photography, Fujifilm had its showroom in Ginza but now it has been moved to Akasaka inside Tokyo Midtown complex, while Olympus should have something somewhere in the area of Kanda but I haven't been there yet. Regarding Sony you can find something in the dedicated floor of the famous Sony building that I have already mentioned.

Sleeping in Ginza

In the evening, after that shops and offices close, there are very few people around Ginza area, there isn't a noteworthy nightlife. Beyond this, it is still a very central area in Tokyo and an excellent starting point to explore the whole city.

In Ginza it is impossible to find very cheap accommodation, you can find mostly upscale hotels, and among all I mention the Mitsui Garden Ginza Premier, one of the few hotels in the city to offer rooms with panoramic bath, ideal for romantic dreamy nights, from "only" 20,000 yen per night.
Other high end hotels are the Mercure Hotel Ginza, il Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Ginza, il Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Ginza, il Monterey Hotel Ginza.

Slightly cheaper accommodations can be found in the nearby area of Tsukiji.

Eating in Ginza

In Ginza there are many top-class restaurants of international cuisine, if you love this kind of sophisticated food, you might enjoy the pleasure of dining in Ginza for one evening.

Some of the renowned multiple Michelin star restaurants are located in Ginza: the sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro, the kaiseki restaurant Ginza Kojyu, and another sushi restaurant, Sushi Yoshitake.

Food and drink with little money in Yurakucho

Under the elevated tracks of the Yamanote line, near Yurakucho station,you can find a lot of small restaurants and izakaya, which are very popular among the thousands of employees working in the area, both for the lunch break and to eat and drink with colleagues after work. The most common dishes are ramen and yakitori skewers.

Pratical guide, how to get to Ginza

Ginza is one of the most easily accessible districts of the city, in the area there are mainly three stations (less than 500 meter apart).

Ginza station, served by the Ginza line (directly connected for example to Shibuya), the Maranouchi line (directly connected to Shinjuku) and the Hibiya line (directly connected to Roppongi) of Tokyo Metro.

Higashi-Ginza station, useful if you come from Asakusa, it is served by the Asakusa line of Toei Metro.

Yurakucho station, it can be very useful because it is served by the Yamanote line of JR (and Yurakucho line too).

Nearby Ginza, from/to Ginza on foot

You can get to Ginza with a nice little walk on foot from the area of Marunouchi-Tokyo Station (and then the Imperial Palace), but also from Tsukiji and Shiodome.

Map of Ginza, Tokyo

Visualizza Ginza in a larger map

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Author: Davide Lee