Ginza (銀座) is one of the most expensive, elegant, and luxurious districts in the world, and I’m not gonna lie: I love the vibe.
Named after a silver-coin mint established there in 1612 during the Edo period, it later evolved into an upscale shopping district following the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. One of last remaining European-style buildings, the clock tower of Ginza Wako is a symbol from the district’s bygone era and manga fans will also recognize it as one of the seven “barriers” in CLAMP‘s apocalyptic classic X.
Every weekend from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm (or until 6:00 pm in warmer months), the main street through Ginza is closed off to road traffic to create a 歩行者天国 [hokosha tengoku], literally meaning “pedestrian heaven.” This presents some great photo ops for budding photographers and Instagram models alike.
Ginza is an area I frequent very often, not because of any affinity for astronomically expensive brands, but because my gym, workplace, and most recently, apartment, are all located within walking distance.
Each time I pass through the area — which is at least two to three times every week — I soak up the absolutely delightful mix of world-class bling and underground retro establishments. And like with most building-dense locations in Japan, it looks better at night.
Here are some of my favourite buildings to photograph for their unique architecture and because they are literally unmissable.
Photogenic Ginza buildings
French luxury design house. The glass tiled building really stands out even amid the bling of Ginza.
Needs no introduction. French luxury fashion house commonly referred to as LV. This particular building is located a little away from the heart of Ginza, and more towards Shimbashi.
An Italian luxury fashion house founded in Rome in 1925. Known for its fur accessories and leather goods. This building shines so much as night it is almost blinding.
Tokyu Plaza Ginza
This complex opened in 2016, and I remember it clearly because it was the year I moved to Tokyo. Inside are range of high-end stores and restaurants, including the Australian Greek restaurant The Apollo. The escalators always look so cool at night.
And given the target demographic of Ginza, there is no shortage of grand displays of wealth either. My favourite so far this gold Mercedes. You can’t get more bling than this, surely.
Lastly, if you find dining out in Ginza too pricey for your tastes, a stone throw’s away is Yurakucho with its many izakaya located near or under the JR train tracks.