Ginza is a massive shopping district and fashion area in the heart of Tokyo. There is an array of well dressed people, expensive fashion boutiques, and all of the high-priced big brand stores. But if fashion isn't your interest, then there are also plenty of high-end restaurants to whet your appetite. With a kabuki theater and other forms of entertainment on offer, a day out to Ginza is a great choice during your trip to Tokyo:
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Many of the tourists visiting Japan likely want to spend some time shopping. Nestled in Ginza’s central area is the Hattori Wako Clock Tower, which has become the neighborhood landmark. At the luxury department retailer Ginza Wako, you will find carefully selected luxury goods ranging from watches, accessories to even baby gifts. You can also purchase quality products at famous established department stores such as Mitsukoshi, Matsuya and Printemps Ginza. The Ginza chain of Uniqlo, a brand that has become hugely popular overseas of late, stocks some of the world’s biggest products along with all of the Uniqlo brand, and is popular with foreign visitors. On Ginza’s Namiki-dori, you will discover brand name stores such as Chanel, Gucci and Hermes. On weekends, the main street is closed off to cars from lunchtime until the evening, giving pedestrians the freedom to walk the streets at leisure.
While Ginza is a modern and sophisticated place to shop, there are also scores of old and established stores specializing in handicrafts. A few shops that have recently risen in popularity are the stationery store Ito-Ya and the art supply shop of Gekkoso that specialize in products such as memo pads, letter and envelope sets and art supplies such as paints. These stores are popular with the Japanese and have continued to stay in business for years principally for the quality of the merchandise. If you visit Gekkoso, you should take some time to enjoy the in-store art gallery and café.
Amongst the backdrop of contemporary Ginza, there are many long-established and well-respected stores where you can drop in and find something that you like. At these stories that have become respected for their quality goods, you can find products to take back home as souvenirs. In addition to stores selling merchandise, there are numerous restaurants and coffee parlors in Ginza that have been in business for years. They were initially established in the early Showa Period, a period when Western influences on Japanese society and culture gained a foothold. Resultantly, these restaurants were the original pioneers of Western-style food in Japan. When stepping into the interior of these restaurants, it is hard not to feel as if you’ve travelled back in time to that era and experience the unique atmosphere distinctive of Japan of an earlier time. You will be able to satisfy your appetite and spirit at these pioneers of Western cuisine. People of all ages can also enjoy desserts including the trendiest cakes at famed places such as Shiseido Parlour and Quil Fait Bon. Sukiyabashi Jiro, the sushi restaurant that has been all the hype as of late, also happens to be located in Ginza.
If you want to immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture, you should certainly pay a visit to the Kabuki theatre to enjoy this traditional performing art. Even though foreign spectators not able to understand the language will likely find it hard to follow the narration, experiencing the sheer power of the production makes it a worthy sightseeing option. You can purchase tickets for less than 1000 Japanese yen, which is certainly an affordable cultural experience.
There are also art exhibitions throughout Ginza that have free admission. Of the many options, the Canon and Sony showrooms are highly recommended along with Nissan (closed until 2016). At these electronics exhibitions, you can handle the products and find out more about new products on the market. Ginza also has many traditional art exhibitions where you can also revel in modern and ancient art at a reasonable price or for free. Ginza, with all of its food, shopping and art exhibition options, should be a full-day excursion.
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The traditional Japanese cultural form of kabuki has that high-class image at a glance, but at Kabuki-za, there are many services to help those who are seeing kabuki for the first time. First off, there is special seating for those customers who want to just see the scene of their choice. There are 150 of these seats on the 4th floor of the theater, so it’s recommended for those people who want to see that scene many times or for those first-timers in the world of kabuki. Those tickets are available at the sales office located to the left of the 1st-floor lobby. Also, there is not only a Japanese-language guide but also an English subtitle guide which can be purchased. Understanding the words is not necessary to enjoy the liveliness and vibrancy of kabuki, but being able to deeply understand the story through the summary, script and nagauta songs will further viewers’ appreciation.
One of the features of Kabuki-za is to be able to feel the world of kabuki without seeing a kabuki performance. For instance, anyone can try the restaurants inside of the theater to enjoy Japanese cuisine including kabuki udon noodles and kabuki zenzai soup (the restaurants can only be used by Kabuki-za customers so prior reservations are necessary). At the souvenir shop, you can purchase a variety of goods such as Kabuki-za-inspired items such as tenugui towels, and special soft-serve ice cream and other foods. Access to the theater is a breeze in all kinds of weather thanks to an underground passage beneath Yurakucho and Ginza Stations without needing to go above ground.
The rooftop of Kabuki-za is freely accessible to everyone for its garden. This garden which is in the middle of the tall buildings of Ginza is a relaxing oasis. At the Kabuki-za Gallery in the cultural complex of Kabuki-za Tower, costumes and props that were actually used on stage are on display. Audio guides can be used although they are only in Japanese.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Kabuki-za
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Kabuki-za
- Tours in Kabuki-za
(image by flickr.com)
The 1st to 4th floors are showrooms in the Sony Building where you can sample the most recent Sony products for free. And it’s not just products that are already on sale, but pre-release products and items that are under consideration for commercialization that are also on display, so that for Sony fans, this is an irresistible lineup. At the Featured Products Area away from the 1st floor entrance, the latest products are on display. Also, there are workshop events held for a limited time. On the 2nd floor, there are digital cameras and digital video cameras such as the CyberShot and HANDYCAM exhibited. In addition, accessories are sold which can be mounted on bicycles and surfboards to provide vibrant and lively photographs and video.
The 3rd floor consists of displays of smartphones such as the XPERIA, games for platforms such as PlayStation, and television sets including 4K and BRAVIA. You can get the latest information on the beautiful and spectacular pictures on the 4K, the most recent TV sets and personal computers. On the 4th floor, there is a high-resolution audio theater room, personal audio items for those who are familiar with the old WALKMAN, and displays of home audio equipment. Furthermore, at the Sony Store on the 4th floor, various products can be bought. The ability to see, touch and experience and then choose products is a big plus at the Sony Building. Also, there is an Italian restaurant, a pub, a tempura restaurant among other dining establishments within the building so that you can enjoy the world of Sony throughout the day.