area guides       architecture      highlights     ︎    ︎




        With some of the world’s most spectacular modern architecture, shopping malls with breathtaking rooftop gardens, beautiful design boutiques, art galleries, fine dining and even some gritty backstreet alleys - Ginza will make sure to leave your credit card glowing and your mind inspired forever. 

Start your day at Ginza Six, the fashion and design empire opened in 2018, which takes up a whole block on Ginza’s main street and boasts one of Tokyo’s best (and free) rooftop gardens, an outstanding art and design bookstore on the 6th floor, an art gallery, and even a Noh Theatre for traditional Japanese entertainment.  

On a sunny day, get yourself some of the culinary creations from Ginza Six’s chic food court on the basement level and make your way up to the rooftop garden where you can get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, at perhaps Tokyo’s most exclusive picnic spot.




         Next, head down the world-famous main street of Ginza which is lined with flagship stores of some of the world’s biggest names in fashion and stunning architectural gems built by the world’s who-is-who in architecture. Look out for Ginza Place, Louis Vuitton Ginza, Mikimoto 2 and, if you go further north or south, the enormous Tokyo International Forum

On Ginza’s main street you will also find Itoya (with the signature red paper clip above its entrance), perhaps Japan’s most famous shop for all things stationary. Spanning over two buildings and 18 floors in total, Itoya stocks anything from pens, paints, craft materials, canvases, paper, postcards, travel gear and has two cafes and even a greenhouse.

Especially worth mentioning is the selection of fine papers by TAKEO on the 7th floor, a branch of one of Japan’s most famous paper distributers boasting a range of 1000 papers in almost any colour or texture imagineable which can be cut to size in store.





        Grab yourself a stylish lunch and cocktail at bills, which will win over anyone’s heart with its eye-poppingly gorgeous interior design, a beautiful view over Ginza and some of Tokyo’s best fluffy pancakes. 

For some more casual food, head over to Ginza Kagari and indulge in its famously creamy chicken-broth ramen (expect to queue), enjoy Tokyo’s best vegan pancakes at Ain Soph., or check out METoA, a sleek cafe&restaurant with a second-floor art space run by Mitsubishi Electric with outstanding detox waters, house sodas and fruit smoothies.

For an afternoon tea Japanese-style, make your way to HIGASHIYA, an exclusive tea salon in the heart of Ginza which fuses the ancient tradition of Japanese tea ceremony with beautiful modern interior design. Select your desired tea creation from seasonal fruit teas, artisinal iced green teas or more traditional matcha, which come paired with one of HIGASHIYA’s seasonal, handmade Japanese sweets, known in Japanese as ‘wagashi’. 




        For more design inspiration, check out Ginza Graphic Gallery, which features free monthly exhibitions showing some of Japan’s best graphic artists and international talents. It also hosts the yearly Tokyo Art Directors Club and Tokyo Type Directors Club competition exhibition, including winners of type, poster and book design categories.

Over on the top floor of Hermès you can find Le Forum, another free gallery space in Ginza run by the French fashion giant, featuring exciting contemporary art and crafts exhibitions in a beautiful glass cube and also hosts occasional film screenings in its own cinema.


        Continue your shopping spree over at MUJI Ginza’s global flagship store, a 7-floor, all-things-MUJI empire, featuring not only our beloved storage, living, household, stationary and skincare sections, but also a MUJI Diner, a fruits&vegetable market, juice stand, bakery, restaurant, library and MUJI Hotel, amongst other things. Known for its no-fuzz, non-brand, minimalist style (which has again become “the MUJI style”), this Japanese-favourite has won over the hearts of people well beyond the borders of Japan.

At Dover Street Market Ginza, get inspired by the avant-garde creations of international fashion giants such as Comme des Garçons, sacai, OFF-WHITE, Prada and Balenciaga, as well as up-and-coming designers whose in-shop displays have been carefully curated by the Dover Street Market team. 

On top of Dover Street Market is also one of the city’s most serene, hidden rooftop gardens, complete with a beautiful shrine, which makes for perhaps the best spot to escape the hustle and bustle of Ginza.



        For another free view of Ginza, head to Kiriko Terrace on top of Tokyu Plaza, where you can find a vertical rooftop garden with a pool, as well as chic fashion boutiques and a moderately-priced basement-level food court on the lower floors. The restaurants on the Ginmachi dining floors at the top of Tokyu Plaza Ginza offer stellar views of the surrounding area and a perfect break from a busy shopping tour of Ginza.

If you are looking for an authentic local food experience and a gritty street food feel, head over to Sanchoku Inshokugai. This backstreet alley located beneath the JR railways between Yurakucho and Shimbashi stations, is a real hidden gem for those seeking a different dining experience. Boasting seven small eateries each serving food from a different Japanese region, catch one of the tiny tables and surround yourself with local workers for whom this is a popular spot for after-work drinks and snacks.



Bonus: The Four Hidden Shrines of Ginza


While Ginza is mostly known for its shopping temples, world-famous architecture and expensive fine-dining, here at WHEN IN TOKYO we also appreciate the small, more mundane pleasures that Tokyo has to offer. Whether its on a rooftop, in a cramped alleyway or on top of a shopping mall, tiny shrines can sometimes be found in the most curious of locations and a great way to discover another side of Ginza. 

The most interesting of them all is perhaps Toyoiwa Inari Shrine, which is located in a dark alleyway, so tiny, one person can barely walk through. If you can manage to find the entrance on either the North or West side of the block, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most unique shrines in Tokyo, and a side of Ginza so different, you’ll almost forget that you are actually in Tokyo’s most glitzy neighborhood. 

Miwa Shrine on the rooftop of nearby Dover Street Market is slightly bigger shrine, yet equally unknown by most locals, and a perfect spot to take a break from busy Tokyo.

Two more hidden rooftop shrines await, one in a corner on top of Ginza Six’s enormous rooftop garden, and a second, on top of the smaller Daiko Asahi Building on the Northeast of Ginza.

To reach the Asashi-Inari Shrine, take the elevator on the side of the Daiko Asahi Building up to the top floor and climb up a flight of stairs where you’ll find yet another, so curious side of Tokyo culture, complete with more views over Ginza.


In this guide                  





        Look beyond the tourist trap that is Ueno and discover Yanaka, a quiet neighborhood with a small-town feel and old-Tokyo vibe, full of small artisanal cafés and art shops. 

Start you day from Nippori Station and walk towards the west until you reach the famous Yūyake Dandan stairs leading down into Yanaka Ginza - Yanaka’s main shopping district. Here you will find a cluster of small shops ranging from eccentric stores such as Shinimonogurui, a stamp shop which creates custom made Hanko stamps with funny looking animals, to local fish mongers, mom-and-pop stores, art and craft shops and more.






         Head south and you will find popular artisinal cafés such as CIBI or HAGISO which cater to the younger and more design-conscious crowd that is slowly turning Yanaka into a hub for local artists and craftspeople. CIBI is also an amazing breakfast spot,  offering popular breakfast staples such as granola with yoghurt and fruit, avocado toast or egg toast which both come with an outstanding homemade multigrain bread. 

If you are visiting during the warm season, be sure to stop at Himitsudo, an insanely popular shop famous for its kakigori (shaved ice) which the shop serves all year round but is especially refreshing during Tokyo’s hot summers. Even on weekdays, expect a queue in front of Himitsudo, but if you decide to brave the wait, you will be rewarded with a deliciously soft kakigori made from naturally sourced ice from the Nikko region. 







         After exploring the busy shopping streets of Yanaka Ginza, stroll through the beautiful Yanaka Cemetery south of Nippori Station, where you can find the graves of many famous Japanese, such as members of the Tokugawa family, artists, authors, politicians and actors of the Meiji Era as well as the serene Tennoji Temple which is the perfect place for a moment of peacefulness. 

In springtime, Yanaka Cemetery turns into one of Tokyo’s most celebrated cherry blossom spots, when its main road, fittingly called “Sakura Dori,” transforms into an explosion of pale-pink blossoms.

Just to the south of Yanaka Cemetery the road turns into what’s known by locals as the “Rue des Arts” or “Street of the Arts,” where you will find several art galleries such as SCAI THE BATHHOUSE which regularly hosts well-known national and international artists such as Anish Kappor, Tadanori Yokoo and others. 






         Just off of “Rue des Arts” is Ueno Sakuragi Atari, a beautiful small cluster of old Japanese houses which have found their revival thanks to a group of artists and local government funding. Ueno Sakuragi Atari is hands-down our favorite Yanaka spot, hosting not only the delicious Vaner bakery, but also Yanaka beer hall - a perfect stop to indulge in Yanaka’s old town vibe while enjoying a modern drinking and dining experience.

If you want to continue your walk through the quiet side streets of Yanaka, head slightly up the hill to find Mikado, a small, retro food and drink shop at a unique triangular crossing which seems to be lost in a different time and age. This spot is famous for its giant Himalayan cedar tree which is often featured in Japanese TV dramas and was saved by a local community group from being cut down and is now one the area’s most famous points of interest.

Make your way further down the hill and you will come across Nennekoya, a quirky café and shop overflowing with images, figurines and knickknacks of cats - in homage to Yanaka’s most popular animal and certainly a must-stop for any feline fanatic. 






         Vintage lovers will want to check out EXPO and Manekin, two small vintage shop selling anything from eccentric clothes, to old cameras, radios and rare finds from all over the world. A few minutes walk from EXPO is Kayaba Coffee, a quiet café with a second floor tatami room which has been catering to locals since 1938 and a perfect place to soak in some more traditional atmosphere on its second floor tatami room. 

Circle back towards Nippori Station and you will discover the small Kosho Same No Ha bookstore with its beautiful entryway, which sells antique books, postcards and Japanese prints for a bargain. 

Make your last stop just across the street at Sampota Cafe Nombiriya, a small restaurant and café with a showa-era Japanese vibe that serves up some of the area’s most delicious meals (try the coriander gyoza and deep-friend sesame dango) and best atmospheres to end your day in Yanaka-style.






Discover more                  





        If the world of sleek design, cutting-edge architecture and hip fashion is your natural habitat, then Omotesando and adjacent Aoyama will become your new hubs of choice.

Whether it’s for a walk to see the city’s most stunning architectural gems, a seemingly unlimited amount of design boutiques, a tranquil rooftop garden or some famous fluffy pancakes - welcome to Japan’s first destination for all things fashionable.




         Centered around the main, tree-lined avenue with the same name, Omotesando boasts seemingly all of the world’s luxury fashion brands which appear to have taken it upon themselves to see who can create the most intimidatingly beautiful flagship store built by the who-is-who of architecture. Most notable perhaps are Dior’s sleek, white fashion tower created by Sanaa, Toyo Ito’s Tod’s Omotesando store, Tadao Ando-designed Omotesando Hills and MVRDV’s bold Gyre, which houses both Chanel and the MoMa Design Store as well as a selection of other exquisite boutiques and restaurants. Head into the many side streets that run North and South of Omotesando Avenue and you will discover even more hidden architectural gems such as Sou Fujimoto’s outstanding Omotesando Branches, Ciel Rouge’s world-famous Harajuku Protestant Church or Tadao Ando’s Bank Gallery which regularly hosts pop-up exhibitions. 






        Start your day at the main intersection that inofficially divides the neighborhoods of Harajuku and Omotesando, and marvel at the psychedelic mirror entrance of Tokyu Plaza. The entrance was catapulted to global fame when featured in will.i.am and Justin Bieber’s #thatPOWER music video and is now one of the city’s most visited photo-spots.

Make your way up the escalator (or, do it like a local and take the elevator on the West side of the building) and go directly to Tokyu Plaza’s 6th floor Omohara Forest, one of the city’s most beautiful rooftop gardens and the embodiment of what an urban oasis should be like. With a gorgeous view over the surrounding areas, lush trees and plants, spacious seating and a beer truck during the summer months, Omohara Forest provides a welcome break during a busy day out and about where you can bring your own food and drinks, relax and enjoy a quiet moment away from the urban buzz.



        Next, head up the long, tree-lined avenue of Omotesando and take in the marvelous architecture on both sides of the road. Omotesando Hills is a sleek, upscale shopping mall designed by world renown architect Tadao Ando and leads several stories up and down into the ground while usually not being too crowded. 

Another must-visit spot on the main avenue of Omotesando is Espace Louis Vuitton, a free art space hosted by Fondation Louis Vuitton which has sublime views over the neighborhood and exhibitions featuring up-and-coming as well as more established artists.

When strolling around Omotesando be sure to check out all of the side streets leading North and South of the main avenue, as this is where you will find the neighborhoods true hidden gems such as vintage stores Nadia and G2?B-Side Label whose cute, Japanese-themed stickers make for great presents, and 6% Doki Doki, brainchild of Sebastian Masuda and mecca for kawaii Harajuku fashion. 

If you want to discover some of the latest in art and design from some of Tokyo’s up and coming creatives, head over to Design Festa Gallery with its signature black bird’s nest façade, and check out the many small exhibitions as well as a café and okonomiyaki restaurant on the inside. 





        Leading towards Shibuya from the South of Omotesando Avenue, Cat Street boasts a range of small and medium-sized boutiques showcasing the city’s latest fashion trends.

Somewhere halfway on Cat Street, hidden on the second floor of a sleek little building lies Micasadeco & Cafe, whose ricotta fluffy pancakes will forever change your idea of what pancakes should actually taste like. To avoid queuing, visit during the late afternoon of a weekday and opt for the classic fluffy panckes served with a heavenly whipped cream and melt into the inescapably delicious world of Tokyo’s world-famous, jiggly pancakes.

For some Japanese fine dining, grab a luxurious but reasonably priced kaiseki (course meal) lunch at Sashya Kanetanka, one of the area’s most beautifully designed restaurants serving traditional Japanese cuisine.



        Around the corner at Chun Shui Tang, grab some delicious Soy Milk Jasmine Tea with Tapioca Pearls (aka Bubble Tea), which is one of the city’s only vegan versions of the much hyped Taiwanese drink. 

On the 4th floor of GYRE, a beautifully designed food floor with a café, restaurant, shop and terrace overlooking Omotesando makes for a perfect stopover on a busy shopping day through Omotesando. The spacious uni café with its slope of wooden cubes and wonderfully curated urban jungle are as much of a feast for the eyes as for the stomach. Before you head out, be sure to check out GYRE’s basement floor where HAY and Cibone sell some of Tokyo’s best sellection of interior design goods. 








        Skip the much overrated Aoyama Flower Market Teahouse (and its one-hour long queues) and instead head to Nicolai Bergmann’s breathtaking flower shop and café Nomu, which take flower design and sipping coffee amongst blossoms to an entirely new level. 

While in the area be sure to stop by Kengo Kuma-designed Nezu Museum which features beautiful arts and crafts from ancient Japan and boasts one of the city’s most wonderful, traditional Japanese gardens which can be visited for free with a museum ticket.

Fans of star architect Kengo Kuma’s work will want to make their way further down a quiet side street and marvel at the breathtaking SunnyHills at Minami-Aoyama, where visitors can sample a free pineapple cake plus tea, courtesy of Taiwanese sweets-maker SunnyHills.



        For more dining and shopping options check out Spiral Market, which sells beautiful design goods from Japanese and foreign brands. Dive into the exquisite world of Japanese Tea at Sakurai Tea Experience on the fifth floor of the same building, where you can sample sophisticated traditional and contemporary tea creations in a modern bar-style tea house. 

Lovers of Japanese sweets should stop by HIGASHIYA man, a small outpost of HIGASHIYA Ginza that sells exquisite, handmade confectionaries out of a lovely hole-in-the-wall shop that specializes in “manjū,” sweet buns filled with red bean paste, nuts or seasonal fruit.

To finish off your day in style, head over to TWO ROOMS, a popular bar and restaurant at the border between Omotesando and Aoyama. Especially during summer nights, TWO ROOM’s terrace is one of Tokyo’s must-go-to spots for a relaxed dinner or a late-night drink overlooking Tokyo, while the inside bar boasts a solid menu of signature and classic cocktails, perfect for a low-key glam night-out.



In this guide                  




        Shibuya’s sleek and relaxed neighbors Daikanyama, Nakameguro and Ebisu stun with stylish boutiques, art galleries and high-end restaurants drawing the hip and young Tokyo-crowd hungry for design-inspiration.

Start your day at T-Site - the exclusive conglomeration of shops, a restaurant and lounge, based around Tsutaya Bookstore, which in itself is worth traveling to Daikanyama for.

Make sure to take a break at the gorgeous Anjin lounge on the second floor of Tsutaya bookstore (central building) and indulge in one of the unique green tea and coffee creations, or, a simple meal and late-night cocktails. If you are craving something more substaintial check out Ivy Place, a stylish restaurant in the center of T-Site which serves Western-style breakfast, lunch and dinner.






         For a more traditional experience visit Kyu Asakura House, an early 20th century residence plus garden which will make you feel transported right back into old Japan. The entry fee is a mere 100 yen for adults and will give you access to the building itself and the lovely garden, perfect for an afternoon stroll away from the crowds of central Tokyo. 

Daikanyama’s Chacott building with its sleek interior and architecture is another must-visit for any design lover. During lunch and evenings, the 4th floor restaurant COTEAU., enchants guests with its gorgeous interior and delicious modern French cuisine, perfect for an elegant night-out amongst Daikanyama fashion-loving crowd. On the ground floor you will also find a café, which has a great selection of smoothies and cakes, if you’re after a short break during your Daikanyama exploration

Further down the road towards Shibuya you will find Log Road, a hip road of with shops, a brewery, restaurant and outdoor seating, all nestled in a quiet, green oasis.






        Meguro river around Nakameguro is home to some stylish boutiques and restaurants and one of the city’s best places to see the cherry blossoms in spring. 

If you visit Tokyo during other seasons, be sure to check out the enormous Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Designed by famed architect Kengo Kuma, the world’s biggest Starbucks is a 4-floor coffeeshop, roastery, bakery, bar and inspiration lounge located right next to Meguro river.

If you are a photo enthusiast, head over to Ebisu and check out the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, or photographic art bookstore NADiff a/p/a/r/t and learn more about the work of Japanese and international avant-garde photographers.


        Finish your day in style at Longrain, a modern Thai restaurant with sleek interior and outstanding views over Tokyo, or Ebisu Yokocho, a tightly-packed backstreet alley, lined with smokey stalls selling mouthwatering delicacies such as grilled beef sushi to Tokyo’s late-night crowd.

Over in a small side street is Bar TRENCH, a favorite among cocktail aficionados, and always worth a trip, even if you don’t already happen to be in the area. During the warm months, crowds will spill out into the street, making for a wonderfully laid-back atmosphere, and paired with one of TRENCH’s carefully crafted drinks in hand, it’s not hard to imagine why this bar is consistently ranked as one of Asia’s best.