Japan, Tokyo City, Ginza District, Chuo Avenue
José Fuste Raga / age fotostock
This glitzy shopping district in the city center is home to department stores and shopping malls like Ginza Six and Tokyu Ginza Plaza. There are many Michelin-starred restaurants for sushi, tempura, and kaiseki, as well as classic bars such as Star Bar and Bar High Five. Casual restaurants serving tonkatsu, Western-style yoshoku, and old-school kissaten cafés also pepper the area, offering something for everyone regardless of budget. The area is rich with so-called antenna shops (regional food shops), and fans of the lifestyle store Muji will not want to miss the flagship store. Ito-ya and Kyukyodo are must-shops for stationery, traditional washi paper, and pens.
Get Your Gucci On
The Ginza district is home to Tokyo’s oldest and most prestigious shopping department stores and high-high end luxury retailers. Chuo-Dori, the main artery in the tony shopping district of Ginza, is worth a walk-down if you’re drawn to streets like 5th Avenue or Bond Street and their ilk. The street is closed to cars on weekends from noon to 5:00.
Luxury Shopping in Ginza, Tokyo
A stroll down Ginza’s Chuo Dori offers an impressive selection of haute couture shopping towers from the world’s top luxury brands. The Bulgari Tower was designed to look like a giant jewelry box and includes a Bulgari restaurant, bar, and rooftop garden. Chuo Dori also includes Chanel, Cartier, and Mont Blanc shopping towers and top Japanese department stores Matsuya and Shiseido. The best time to enjoy high end shopping in Ginza is on weekend afternoons when Chuo Dori is closed to traffic and filled with bistro tables and pedestrians.
Tokyo's Sushi Master
This is the best sushi place I’ve ever been to in my life. Sushi Chef Jiro Ono (featured in the 2011 film Jiro Dreams of Sushi), now 85 years of age, is a master still working hard every day to refine his technique. His specialty is Nigiri Sushi, and it’s very traditional and simple. Eating here is not only about the food, but also the experience—there is much more to the story behind the sushi, and Jiro himself, than meets the eye. It’s an expensive place, and you must make a reservation ahead of the time, but it’s a must-go if you are a true sushi lover. After eating here, though, you might not like your neighborhood sushi place quite as much.
A Different Kind of Ramen Noodle
I may be writing the dictionary of ramen noodles. I promise this is the last—Abura Soba, translated as “oil noodle.” I saw this place late at night in Ginza, while looking for something different to eat. This place serves the Abura Soba, which is noodle in the oil sauce. Okay, it sounds strange but is very tasty! The oil is spicy (with different options), the noodle is fresh, and the scallion is crispy. It is very addictive, and before you realize it, you’ve reached the bottom of the bowl.
Rainy Night in Ginza
Ginza in Tokyo is filled with lights—lights from the street, lights from the cars, and lights from all the fancy retail stores. One thing very common in Tokyo during rainy days is the clear umbrella: almost everyone is using it, and every convenience store is selling it. It doesn’t matter how crowded the street is, how dark the night is—you can always see your way clearly. If my suitcase had room, I would get one and bring it home.
Matsusaka Beef BBQ at Ginza
One must-do experience for any foodie in Tokyo is the beef barbecue. The Matsusaka Beef, or marbled beef, is served at lunch or dinner. I think the lunch portion is good enough, as the meat is very filling, alongside other appetizers you might order. Enjoy the meat melting in your mouth, and try Ginza Toujindako.