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The Lights, Fashion & Architecture of Ginza

The neon lights of Ginza are known worldwide, in fact, they are what draw most visitors to the area for a nighttime stroll.  The bright and abundant lights shine down upon an area that is also a center of fashion and architecture and has been since prior to World War II.

The name Ginza dates back to 1612, when a silver coin mint was relocated to the area.  Gin is the Japanese word for a silver coin and za refers to a place where coins, as well as other specially authorized goods that required the use of weights and measures, are produced.  The area is no longer home to a mint of the monetary kind but it is one of the priciest real estate markets in Tokyo.

In 1872, after the area was ravaged by fire, the Meiji government ordered that the town be rebuilt using brick architecture which would better protect the area against future fires and make Japan appear more westernized which was one of the hallmarks of the era.  Since that time western and Japanese architects have shown off some of their most creative works in Ginza.  Some of the hallmark buildings in Ginza today include the De Beers, Mikimoto and Swatch buildings and are featured in “Architecture in Tokyo: A Ginza Walk” at PingMag which offers views and information on the interesting architecture found in the area.

Fashionistas, both male and female, have been strutting their stuff in Ginza since the mid 1930’s when moga, modern girls, and mobo, modern boys, began frequenting the area wearing fashionable western style clothing with hairstyles and accessories to match.  Today high end fashion designers such as Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Gucci and Armani offer their wares to brand conscious Japanese and tourists alike along a strip that is the equivalent to New York’s Fifth Avenue.  The latest fashion label to open their doors in Ginza is H&M who celebrated their grand opening this September.

The main street in Ginza is closed to vehicle traffic on weekend afternoons but you can visit the area any day.  Why not plan to spend an afternoon browsing through area shops and and stay until the lights set the area aglow after sunset (area map).

Image Credit: Personal Collection