Named after a silver coin minted in 1612, Ginza has the reputation of being one of the world’s most extravagant and luxurious shopping districts. Stories of apples costing $50 and the world’s most expensive cup of coffee emanate from Ginza. History has shaped the appearance of Ginza after a devastating fire brought about the rebuilding of the area.
In 1872 Irish-born architect Thomas Waters introduced the first two and three-storey Georgian brick buildings, some of which still remain, notably the landmark Wako building with its signature clock tower. During this reconstruction phase the famous shopping promenade was built stretching between the Shinbashi and Kyobashi bridges.
Amidst the glamour of Ginza live a number of traditional Japanese theatres, the world’s first capsule apartment building, and Tsukiji, Tokyo’s largest wholesale market, famous for its fish. The best time to visit is at weekends when the promenade opens up as a walking street lined with the riches of commercial Japan. But not everything is ridiculously expensive in this prolific district. For very little you can see a traditional kabuki play, go to Asia's largest fish market, see an Indian-style temple, look at a capsule apartment building, and try out the latest Sony gadgets. Exit C2 of Ginza Subway Station (built for the 1964 Olympics) brings you out next to the Sukiyabashi zebra crossing. Having emerged look out to the distant left for classy department stores such as Hankyu, Seibu and Printemps. You’ll also find the Apple Building here if you feel like checking the latest out in IT.
By mid afternoon, trading at Tsukiji is over but the deserted and atmospheric streets at this time of day are perfect for wandering around in. The busy market is open every day except Sundays and public holidays and the best time to visit is in the morning from seven onwards.