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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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