Top 20 Things to Do in Ginza from the Standards to Hidden Gems
The many high-end brand stores and venerable establishments give the streets of Ginza an air of elegance. When the main street becomes closed to cars on weekends and national holidays, you can stroll down Ginza at your leisure. Here are some of the best places for shopping, gourmet dining, and traditional culture in Ginza.
- About Ginza
- 1. Appreciate Kabuki at Kabukiza Theater
- 2. Appreciate Noh at Kanze Noh-gakudo
- 3. Take a Stroll Down the Main Street of Ginza
- 4. Shop for Cosmetics at Ginza Cosmetics World in Ginza Mitsukoshi
- 5. Shop for Pearl Accessories at MIKIMOTO
- 6. Get the Latest Stationery Items at ITOYA
- 7. Shop for Specialty Homewares and Ingredients at AKOMEYA TOKYO Ginza Branch
- 8. Satisfy Your Hunger with a Sushi Lunch at Ginza Sushi Aoki
- 9. Eat Your Fill of Maguro Zukushi-don At Kinki University Aquaculture Laboratory Dining Ginza
- 10. Visit Hokkaido Dosanko Plaza Yurakucho Branch - A Popular Regional Specialty Store in Ginza
- 11. See the Work of Up-and-Coming Artists at Japan’s Oldest Art Gallery - Shiseido Gallery
- 12. Enjoy Shopping at GINZA SIX
- 13. Head to Muji’s Ginza Store
- 14. Eat Ramen at Ito
- 15. Drink Bubble Tea at Bubble Tea Specialty Store Sen Juichi
- 16. Eat Sensational Yakiimo at Ginza Tsubo-Yakiimo
- 17. Take a Moment for Refreshment at Konica Minolta's PLANETARIA TOKYO
- 18. Eat Sublime Kobe Beef Steak at Bifteck Kawamura Ginza
- 19. Enjoy the Night Views of Ginza at Tokyu Plaza Ginza Kiriko Lounge
- 20. Sip Cocktails You Could Only Expect in Ginza at the Venerable Bar Ginza Lupin
- Extra: Partake in Ginza’s Festivals
- Extra: Make Your Way Over to the Tsukiji Outer Market!
Ginza is known as one of Japan’s biggest shopping districts, where glamorous people roam. In addition to being a shopping hotspot for luxury Japanese and international brands, there are also many other places here for people who aren't as into shopping, such as ritzy bars and sushi restaurants. Ginza is a town where the old and new coexist. With redevelopments taking place in recent years, the area is evolving into a fascinating town. On the other hand, it has inherited the history of the old Ginza. For example, you can still watch traditional Japanese performing arts that have been carried on for centuries, such as kabuki and noh.
1. Appreciate Kabuki at Kabukiza Theater
Go and see kabuki, a form of traditional performing art that started out as an amusement for common people. A performance usually lasts around 4 hours. Grabbing a bento meal from Kobikicho Plaza on B2F during the intermission is another fun thing to do here. For a more casual theater-going experience, it is recommended to purchase a standing-only ticket that allows you to see one act of the play for 1,000 - 1,500 JPY. At the 5th floor Kabukiza Gallery (regular entry 600 JPY) you can take photos dressed up as a kabuki actor and even ride a horse that appears on stage! The rooftop garden (free entry) is also a must-see.
2. Appreciate Noh at Kanze Noh-gakudo
Kanze Noh-gakudo is located inside GINZA SIX, where you will find many high-end boutiques, cosmetics stores and dessert stores. Here you can appreciate noh, one of the oldest existing performing arts in the world. Noh plays are dramas based on classical literature, and the performance consists of actors wearing masks accompanied by musicians playing instruments such as bamboo flutes and taiko drums. You could call it a musical in modern terms. Kanze Noh-gakudo is only about 500m down the road from Kabukiza. So, how about going Japanese traditional theater hopping in Ginza?
3. Take a Stroll Down the Main Street of Ginza
On weekends and national holidays, the stretch of Chuo-dori from Ginzadori-guchi crossing to Ginza Hacchome crossing becomes “hokosha tengoku” (literally pedestrian heaven, as the road is closed to cars and opens up for pedestrians), the street that symbolizes Ginza. This is a huge gathering of street-facing stores and department stores of luxury brands, and is known for having the highest property values in Japan. You’ll be surprised to know that a postcard-sized piece of land is worth 850,000 JPY (approximately 7,800 USD). Have fun shopping and soaking up the atmosphere of the street as you stroll around (an activity known as Ginbura). When you get tired of walking, why not take a break at Ginza Kimuraya, where the collaboration of Japanese red bean paste (an) and Western bread (pan), anpan, originated.
4. Shop for Cosmetics at Ginza Cosmetics World in Ginza Mitsukoshi
Ginza Cosmetics World is a prominent cosmetics store in Ginza that offers a vast lineup of Japanese and international brands. However, choosing what suits you best from so many brands is a nearly impossible task. You can get free counselling by Ginza Beaute Concierge (reservations preferred). You’ll get tons of ideas! They provide a great service for tourists offering overseas shipping, and duty-free, of course. This meticulous service has come to be expected from the veteran department store.
5. Shop for Pearl Accessories at MIKIMOTO
MIKIMOTO is a world-famous pearl jeweler that even has locations in Place Vendome, Paris and 5th Avenue, New York. They are known for the world's first successful cultured pearl. The main branch is a luxury space styled on the natural scene where pearls are raised. You will be captivated by the beauty of MIKIMOTO jewelry, which uses Mikimoto pearls that have all the elegance of the finest quality Akoya pearls, and makes use of Western production technology along with Japanese traditional techniques.
6. Get the Latest Stationery Items at ITOYA
This specialty stationery store is like a total stationery theme park. The theme of G.Itoya is to support creative times. The lineup of stationery that covers 13 floors and varies from familiar items to never-before-seen items will have you uncontrollably excited. On the first floor is a collection of greeting cards from all over the world. You can mail these with an Itoya original stamp from here! At K.Itoya between the main building and the road, you can try out all the pens. There is even a floor where you can create and customize your own notebook.
7. Shop for Specialty Homewares and Ingredients at AKOMEYA TOKYO Ginza Branch
AKOMEYA is a store that proposes lifestyle ideas for making your rice and your daily life special. The power to make people happy, born out of the pursuit of perfection, and more concretely, things like groceries, general goods, rice, dashi (Japanese stock), seasonings, baked goods and kitchen utensils are on offer here. This store is recommended for finding a stylish souvenir that's a little bit different from the usual. At the restaurant on the premises, AKOMEYA Chubo, you can enjoy a meal that uses the specialty ingredients and cookware in its preparation. To certify how delicious the food is, the restaurant has even been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand.
8. Satisfy Your Hunger with a Sushi Lunch at Ginza Sushi Aoki
How about having some sushi at a veteran sushi restaurant while in Ginza? 20,000 JPY is the price for dinner at this famous Edo-style sushi restaurant, but if you come here at lunch time you can enjoy the superb sushi more reasonably. Here at Ginza Sushi Aoki, only on weekdays, you can delight in the flavors of this long-standing establishment from 3,000 JPY (excl. tax) for a set amount. You will be satisfied to your core by this authentic, expertly made sushi.
9. Eat Your Fill of Maguro Zukushi-don At Kinki University Aquaculture Laboratory Dining Ginza
“Laboratory” is a fairly serious name, but Kinki University Aquaculture Laboratory is a restaurant where you can eat the world’s first successful completely cultivated Pacific bluefin tuna. The tuna is known as “Kindai maguro.” Everything from the food they are given to the breeding environment is safe and secure. Furthermore, the tuna arrives at the restaurant without ever being frozen, so both the umami flavor and texture of the tuna is exceptional. The most popular lunch menu item is the Kindai Maguro Zukushi-don (2,500 JPY (excl. tax)), which is a bowl of rice served up with a hearty helping of 5 types of the Kindai maguro, available in limited quantities. Please enjoy the Kindai maguro!
10. Visit Hokkaido Dosanko Plaza Yurakucho Branch - A Popular Regional Specialty Store in Ginza
This is a popular “antenna shop” where you can buy Hokkaido local specialties, even if you can’t go to Hokkaido. When you mention Hokkaido, people usually think of all the delicious seafood, sweets, and cheeses. Here in Tokyo you will find all the classic Hokkaido souvenirs as well as some fascinating products that come from this vast land full of natural resources. There are usually more than 1,200 items to choose from, and there is also a weekly specials corner and a takeout corner where you can get fried croquettes and more. This is also easily accessible directly from JR Yurakucho Station.
11. See the Work of Up-and-Coming Artists at Japan’s Oldest Art Gallery - Shiseido Gallery
This gallery opened in 1919 and is said to be the oldest gallery in Japan. You can see all kinds of modern exhibitions here at this gallery with its 5m tall ceiling. Up until now, over 3,100 exhibitions have been held here, and you can even enter free of charge. The style is modern art, and many artists have made a name for themselves in the history of Japanese art after debuting their work here. The red brick building is a landmark of Ginza Nana-chome crossing. Come and check out this art that’s a little different to what you'd find in an art museum.
12. Enjoy Shopping at GINZA SIX
GINZA SIX is complete with internationally known luxury brands, popular cosmetics brands, and all the latest fashions. There are even houseware stores and more! The Tsutaya Books here has an outstanding number of art books, and the book shelves that stand 6m tall are like a work of art themselves. You may think this place only seeks the most cutting edge but wait until you see the newly revived Café Europe, a legendary cafe at the heart of Ginza's cafe culture 100 years ago. On the first floor there is a tourist service center, with currency exchange, tourist information desk, ticket booth, and cafe where you can exchange information with other travelers.
13. Head to Muji’s Ginza Store
This is popular brand Muji's flagship and largest store in the world, which has all of life’s essentials. In addition to all the well-known products such as general goods, clothing, stationery, and furniture, on the upper floors you will find Muji Hotel, where most of the amenities and so on are actually Muji products. If the items in the hotel or diner strike your fancy, you can pick some of them up in the store. You can experience Muji’s world view from the organization of the floors right through to the displays.
14. Eat Ramen at Ito
Of all the countless ramen shops Tokyo, this one has a Michelin rating! As you can probably tell from the name, the specialty of this store is homemade noodles. The chuka soba for 600 JPY (incl. tax) garnished simply with spring onions is absolutely delicious. The perfect consistency and unique mouthfeel of the noodles and soup flavored with niboshi (dried sardines), deliver a simple yet deeply delicious flavor. For those who want to go all out, try the Niku Soba (750 JPY (incl. tax) and up) which comes with 4 slices of roast pork.
15. Drink Bubble Tea at Bubble Tea Specialty Store Sen Juichi
Have you tried bubble tea yet? This drink with tapioca pearls (made from the starch of the cassava plant that have a distinct springiness when you bite into them) is massively popular in Japan right now. Of the many bubble tea joints around, Sen Juichi is the talk of the town for its idea to combine not just Japanese tea, but teas from around the world, with Japanese ingredients. For example, the Japanese black milk tea with bubbles (500 JPY (excl. tax)) is an outstanding pairing of Japanese black tea and slightly sweet tapioca pearls. You should definitely try this one!
16. Eat Sensational Yakiimo at Ginza Tsubo-Yakiimo
At this place you can eat yakiimo (roasted sweet potatoes) all year round, even though they are a food that brings winter to mind in Japan. The sweet potatoes are natural sweets, that are slowly roasted at a low temperature inside large earthenware pots that can be seen from outside the shop. From the first bite you will be delighted by their intense sweetness. They really don't contain any added sugar! This is all thanks to the natural sugars in the sweet potatoes. The top recommendation is a whole one with the skin still on. The scent and sweetness of the caramelized skin is irresistible!
Whole 756 JPY (excl. tax)
Half 378 JPY (excl. tax)
Small 270 JPY (excl. tax)
17. Take a Moment for Refreshment at Konica Minolta's PLANETARIA TOKYO
This is a planetarium for adults, where you can have a drink while stargazing. Come soothe your soul with a multitude of stars right in the middle of Tokyo. In DOME1 you can watch live music and more under the 8K resolution dome, and eat food based on the planets from Cafe Planetaria. In DOME2 you can experience the beauty and realism as though you're completely immersed in the galaxy. All seats have audio that supports Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. This is an extraordinary experience unlike anything you've tried before, so have fun!
18. Eat Sublime Kobe Beef Steak at Bifteck Kawamura Ginza
Come here to get a taste of Kobe beef in Ginza from one of the most iconic Japanese cattle breeds. The first-class chefs will prepare for you an exceptional steak that is hearty yet delicate, beginning with the selection of rare cows that have been reared with time and effort, giving quality that is expected for Kobe beef. Early bookings are essential for a counter seat where you can enjoy watching the chefs prepare your meal right in front of you. It’s suggested to book a private room where you will have an exclusive chef demonstrating their technique. The refined space and exquisite steak are sure to become a special memory.
Course menu starts at 14,500 JPY (excl. tax), lunch menu starts at 4,200 JPY (excl. tax).
19. Enjoy the Night Views of Ginza at Tokyu Plaza Ginza Kiriko Lounge
Tokyu Plaza Ginza is eye-catching from the outside due to its use of a Tokyo traditional craft, Edo kiriko (a traditional form of glass-making). This is the same facility where Tokyo’s biggest Lotte Duty Free Shop is located. On the 6th floor you can enjoy the night view from Kiriko Lounge, a free-to-enter luxury space. The height of the ceiling is a staggering 27m and outside of this massive glass enclosed space stretches the impressive view of Sukiyabashi crossing and the imminent Ginza buildings. It is also suggested to head up to the top floor to the open air Kiriko Terrace.
20. Sip Cocktails You Could Only Expect in Ginza at the Venerable Bar Ginza Lupin
Some say that there are at least 350 bars in Ginza. Among them, Ginza Lupin boasts overwhelming popularity. Beloved by many since its opening in 1928, this bar is known to be where many celebrated authors gathered, including Dazai Osamu who even has fans abroad. In Ginza where there are so many bars, this is a place you can casually stop by with decent prices. Entry charge is 800 JPY (excl. tax) and includes an appetizer, and the old-school cocktails are 1,300 JPY give or take. The space has a retro vibe, as though time has stopped. Come in and enjoy some cultured conversation.
Extra: Partake in Ginza’s Festivals
There are various festivals held throughout the year in the Ginza neighborhood. To name a few, there is the Ginza Yanagi Matsuri, a parade and event held on Nishi Ginza-dori on May 5 each year; and the Hibiya Park Maru no Uchi Ondo Dai Bon Odori Taikai, the largest Bon festival event in Tokyo, which is held in the final week of August. This is a huge event that everyone including children and tourists are welcome to participate in. There is also AUTUMN GINZA where you can experience tea culture from the last week of October to the first week of November every year, and Christmas markets in winter, as well as many more. So be sure to check out some of these festival events in Ginza!
Extra: Make Your Way Over to the Tsukiji Outer Market!
While Tsukiji Market famous for the tuna sales has been moved to Toyosu, the Outer Market is still a hub of activity. And it's only 1km away from the center of Ginza, so you can get here on foot. You can enjoy so many different gourmet experiences here, such as the Maguro Preparation Show at popular Sushi Ichiban, and walking around while eating local specialties, ramen, and sweets. Commonly stores open rather early so you can visit for breakfast. But be aware that there are also some that close for the afternoon.
You found some things you want to check out, right? Have fun doing “Ginbura” on the streets of Ginza where elegance is in the air.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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