In Tokyo, high-end shopping and exquisite dining are synonymous with Ginza. Whether it’s to catch a Kabuki performance or browsing for unique gifts, you’ll probably find it in Tokyo Ginza.
We often get asked by friends and readers on Japan travel tips and itineraries so we try our best to share our Japan experiences on the blog. However, one city we didn’t have much travel content on was Tokyo. Why? Since Nami’s family only lives 7 miles (15 km) from Tokyo and 15 miles (23 km) to Shibuya, it never seemed like a “Japan travel destination” for us.
As we get repeated request for Tokyo travel guide, we spent 6 days this past summer in Tokyo exploring different wards, activities to do, places to visit and eat. This is just the beginning of our Tokyo travel guide and we’ll continue adding to these posts as we explore new adventure and experiences. We hope you will enjoy traveling throughout Tokyo with our family.
The reality is that it’s impossible to finish exploring Tokyo in 6 days, or even possibly a month. There are simply way too many options for dining, sightseeing, and entertainment! This is our first effort to share Tokyo with you and we hope you’ll enjoy our journey. There is something for everyone in Tokyo so pick and choose what your heart desires when you visit.
For the Tokyo travel guide series, we’ll share the following posts:
- Shinjuku 新宿
- Meiji Jingu 明治神宮
- Harajuku and Omotesando 原宿・表参道
- Shibuya 渋谷
- Roppongi 六本木ヒルズ
- Tokyo Tower (update) 東京タワー
- Ginza 銀座
- Imperial East Garden 皇居東御苑
- Akihabara 秋葉原
- Ueno 上野
- Kappabshi かっぱ橋道具街
- Tokyo Dome City 東京ドームシティー
- Asakusa (update) 浅草
- Tokyo Sky Tree (update) 東京スカイツリー
- Odaiba お台場
You might notice there are many areas/wards/stations we missed in Tokyo from the above list, like Tokyo Station. It’s because we simply ran out of time to cover and will add it in a future trip. If you have any specific requests, please comment below and we’ll try to add it to our future itineraries.
Ginza Travel Guide
In Tokyo, Ginza is almost synonymous with high-end shopping, dining, and bars. It is the home to many flagship stores for designers and brands, and fabulous dining options. Beyond the designer and boutique shops, there are Wako, Mitsukoshi, Ginza6 and many other department stores to find what you’re looking for. Ready to take a quick tour of Ginza? Let’s Go!
Ginza Kabukiza Theater
Before talking about the shopping and dining, let’s first explore one of Ginza’s most famous landmark – the Kabukiza Theater. Kabukiza Theater is the most prominent theater for kabuki performances in Tokyo. In case you’re not familiar with kabuki (歌舞伎), it is traditional Japanese dance-drama performed on stage.
Kabukiza theater performances change on a monthly basis and you can check for the show detail and buy the tickets online here. A kabuki performance is made up of several acts and you can purchase the tickets online for the performance. Also, for each act, the theater sells 150 (90 sitting 60 standing) tickets that can be purchased on the day of the performance at the theater.
We happened to be walking by when the single-act tickets were selling, time for a new experience!
We purchased the tickets to let our children learn what kabuki is and luckily we actually got the last 4 tickets for the act. When you receive the tickets, there is a number on there indicating your place in line.
When it was getting close to the show time, we took the elevator from the side entrance to the 4th floor waiting area. The waiting area had benches to sit, and a small gallery with models of Kabukiza theater on display.
About 15 mins later, the single act tickets are called in the numerical order and the earlier numbers got to sit down and when the seats were filled, the latter numbers had to stand to watch the show. The view was from the very top of the theater but we could still see the stage and actors pretty well. To understand the play, we rented a subtitle machine which tells us what is going on with the play.
With the subtitle machine and some help from us, our children understood the story and enjoyed the performance even though they had to stand the entire time.
Shopping in Ginza
After watching the performance, it’s time to check out the different shops around Ginza.
We’ll start with Ginza 6 (also known as G6), one of the newest and the largest department stores that opened in 2017. Similar to other large high-end department stores in Japan, it is filled with designer stores (Dior, Valentino, Fendi, Saint Laurent, etc), a bookstore, and plenty of restaurant choices for both sweet and savory.
The interior of Ginza Six was elegant and beautifully appointed.
One of the hidden oasis of Ginza Six is its rooftop Ginza SIX garden. You can see beautiful views of Tokyo from the garden windows.For our afternoon snack, we stopped by Framboise on the 3rd floor for some delicious crepe.
After filling up our tummy and powered up with sugar, it’s time to get moving and check out the rest of Ginza. Here is a short list of other large stores in the area:
Nissan has a showroom in Ginza Place called Nissan Crossing. They rotate unique vehicles for display in the showroom, at the time we visited it was a Formula A-E car.
Besides the stores themselves, there are also several iconic statues like the cupid in front of Tenshodo (天賞堂).
One of the stores in Ginza with over 100 years of history is the stationary store Itoya (伊東屋). Itoya’s flagship store was re-open in 2015 and has over 15 floors of stationary goods. If you love stationaries, make sure you stop by to check out this unique shop.
Besides the main streets, there are more boutique shops in small side streets like Suzuran St. (スズラン通り).
Hokōsha Tengoku 歩行者天国
On Saturdays and Sundays, 8 blocks of the center street (中央通り) in Ginza is closed to car traffic from noon to 5 pm (April – Sept it’s 6 pm). Pedestrians can walk about without concerning being hit by cars.
Ginza Kimuraya Breadstore 木村屋
Another shop we stopped by was Kimuraya. If you love anpan (Japanese red bean bread), then make a quick stop by Kimuraya as they are the original creators. The bread store was founded in 1869 and invented the red bean bread in 1874.
Needless to say, we bought all sorts of bread from Kimuraya and they were amazingly delicious.
Restaurants in Ginza
The restaurant choices around Ginza are truly mind-boggling, according to Tabelog, within .5 mile or 1 km from Ginza Station, there are over 6,500 restaurants including the famed Jiro. You can probably find anything you want to eat so explore and be adventurous. Here are a few below:
Ginza Tenryu 銀座天龍
For dinner, we had our daughter’s favorite gyoza at Ginza Tenryu. Their gyozas are gigantic for Japanese gyoza and the stuffing is finely minced. Besides the house special gyoza, we also had mapo tofu, fried rice, and ramen. Everything was pretty good but we recommend getting ramen from a speciality shop instead.
We had a fun filled day in Ginza starting with the kabuki performance to browsing the stores and filling up our stomach with crepe and gyoza. If you are looking for unique gifts and amazing dining experience in Tokyo, you’re likely to find them in Ginza.
As always, thank you for reading our travel post. We hope you enjoyed traveling with us. If you are interested in reading about other parts of Japan, click here to read about our other travel experiences. We’ll see you soon in our next travel post, Imperial East Garden.