Finally, we got to stay in the middle of Ginza on our trip in 2010. On the trip before that, we stayed in Shinjuku, and before that – in a very nondescript suburb Magome. How we ended up in Magome is a whole other story, and I want to talk about Ginza today…
Ginza is, of course, a world-famous cultural, dining and shopping district which is often likened to Fifth Avenue or Champs-Élysées. Ginza, more than just a single avenue, is a myriad of streets dotted with high-end stores, cafes, patisseries and restaurants, lined with trees swathed in fairy lights , all mercifully laid out in easy to navigate grid pattern.
Though mostly budget-breaking, some hotels offer reasonable rates – check out any of the online booking agencies like Agoda, Expedia or Hotel Club. We were staying at Monterey Ginza, which is a lovely small hotel just steps away from Ginza’s main Chuo street.
Ginza is one of my favourite places in the world and staying there was a dream. It’s got the magic.
Why should you stay there? Because you will be in right in the middle of:
1. Transport. It is incredibly convenient for getting around Tokyo. First of all, subway lines that can take you to Shinjuku, Shibuya and Roppongi within 15-20 min all converge at Ginza subway station. Yurakucho station on JR Yamanote loop line is there, too. It is only 1 stop away from Tokyo station, which means you could walk there, if so inclined.
2. Shopping. Yes, most shops are very fancy and expensive, but Ginza also affords a look at incredible flagship stores of every designer label you might imagine. Sometimes it is just nice to browse!
Don’t let the designer oversaturation put you off Ginza shopping, however. I have acquired many a bargain in various department stores. My favourites are Seibu, Matsuya and Mitsukoshi…If you don’t have shopping budget as such, you should still shop for best quality Japanese brand accessories…or just visit the underground food hall in Mitsukoshi!
3. Food. Food, glorious food. Sure, Ginza has a notable concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants (which you definitely should pay a visit to!) but head to Yurakucho for a hole-in-the-wall izakayas, yakitori (chicken skewer) diners and stand-up sushi bars. Else, hit the chocolatiers and patisseries that are literally on every corner.
4. Nightlife. There must be thousands of drinking places in Ginza. I don’t think I am exaggerating. Ok, most of them would be high-class hostess bars that are hard to spot and still harder to enter for a foreigner. Yet, there is not a street that is not home to a multitude of intimate wine bars, cocktail lounges, izakayas and pubs. The scene is grown up and great for those who appreciate slightly finer things in life or simply cannot stomach a night in manic Shibuya:)
5. Sheer beauty of Ginza lights. Just check out the photos below.