- ウツワ UTSUWA
- A day of sightseeing in Tokyo, led by Ruka, the famous model : Enjoying Japanese Culture in Ginza Edition
- 2016.01.27 WEDNESDAY
Following the Asakusa edition, the next spot is the mature Ginza district. Ginza attracts many visitors as an epicenter of traditional arts and trends and as a popular shopping area. Which sightseeing spots did Ruka choose to visit? Here, she'll take you on a day out in Ginza, from long-established shops that have been beloved for many years to a small antique book shop that only a few people know about!
First, let’s start our sightseeing at the center of Ginza!
We start our tour of Ginza at the famous Kyukyodo, located just a short walk from the Yonchome intersection at the center of Ginza, where the Chuodori and Harumidori streets cross.
Kyukyodo is chock full of products that exude Japanese culture, such as Japanese paper products, stationery, incense, and more. “My friends and family in China love when I buy small Japanese items for them.” Just as Ruka says, the shop is packed all day long with people picking out souvenirs for foreigners and people buying items to remember their trips to Japan.
On the wall hangs a sign proclaiming in an older style of Japanese that Kyukyodo’s stationery is better than any other, and the shelves beneath it are lined with colorful Japanese paper.
Kyukyodo’s original notebooks made with Japanese paper and small fragrance bags that can be concealed in a pocket or bag are particularly popular souvenirs. Ruka buys a fragrance bag as well, saying, “I feel great and so ladylike if I give off a little whiff of Japanese fragrance when people walk past.”
5-7-4 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
The streets of Ginza are laid out in a grid, lined with a variety of shops such as department stores and roadside shops. It is the ideal place for window shopping. Ruka also enjoys watching fashionable people go down the streets and stopping to peer into shop windows. She walks along Chuo-dori, strolls down Sotobori-dori, and in no time arrives at the entrance to Maronie-dori.
On the first floor of MARRONNIER GATE, a shopping mall at the entrance to Maronie-dori, UNITED ARROWS GINZA. Through the large glass windows, she can see an assortment of tasteful, beautiful, and high-quality items. “Just looking at the displays gets my pulse racing,” Ruka says as she directs a passionate gaze through the windows.
UNITED ARROWS GINZA
B1-1F MARRONNIER GATE,
2-2-14 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Pique your intellectual curiosity! Head for the Pola Museum Annex
One of the pleasures of sightseeing in Ginza is going through galleries. The district is full of galleries, art spaces and museums large and small, where you can take in a wide variety of art including antiques, pottery, Japanese paintings, and modern art.
Ruka’s favorite is the Pola Museum Annex. The bright space is comfortable and accented with white. Throughout the year, it holds exhibitions that hone the viewer’s aesthetic sense and sensibilities. Not only that, it is always open for free, making it a tourist attraction not to be overlooked.
“I think I’ll stop in to see what kind of exhibition they’re putting on now. They have everything from exhibits focusing on ancient Japanese culture to exhibitions of modern art, so it’s the perfect place to visit when you’re sightseeing! This is a place I always want to go when my friends come from China.”
POLA MUSEUM ANNEX
3F Pola Ginza Bldg.
1-7-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Now that we’ve stimulated our aesthetic senses at the Pola Museum Annex, the next stop is the Higashi-Ginza district. The Kabuki-za theater is the place to go to enjoy Japanese culture in Higashi-Ginza. On this trip, we visited a spot well off the beaten path just off to the side of Kabuki-za.
Climb the narrow staircase to arrive in a place where you are surrounded by books on all sides! It’s so packed that Ruka says, “The books are stacked up to the ceiling! I hope they don’t fall over!” This used book store specializes in classical performing arts, such as kabuki and bunraku, as well as rakugo and other dramatic entertainment. The small space is packed with books and posters.
“With so much here, I’m sure there are a few hidden treasures. How many books and things are in here?” Ruka asks. Kobayashi, the owner, answers “I’ve never actually counted, but probably around 15,000 things? About that?” He chuckles as his confidence leaves him.
There are many one-of-a-kind items, such as an autographed copy of Dharma by Kikugoro Onoue and the banners used to advertise performances during the Edo era, and it is not uncommon for researchers of Japanese culture to come here from abroad. Some of the regulars include people who come to discuss classical performing arts with the knowledgeable Kobayashi.
2F Ginza Mayflower House
4-13-14 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
At the end of our Ginza sightseeing trip, where we saw lots of Japanese culture, we finish off with bonsai.
We’ve finally come to our last tourist attraction in Ginza. As our final sightseeing destination, Ruka has chosen “Ametakean,” the bonsai specialist store. Just as “kawaii” (cute) is a Japanese word that is gaining recognition around the world, “bonsai” is a word known to many that refers to miniature trees. At Ametakean, there is a wide variety of bonsai culture, from trees small enough to fit in your hand, to ancient bonsai that have lived for centuries.
As Shimada, the store’s manager, explains, “Bonsai is a condensed natural landscape in a single planter,” Ruka grows silent and stares carefully at the planter in front of her. “The overall harmony, from the way the trunk bends to the deepness of the greenery, is beautiful,” she says staring at its beauty.
Up on the second floor there are many planters as well. Among them, she finds a plum tree with blossoms about to bloom. “Look! Look! You can see the petals about to open!” she cries, gleefully. She seems completely captivated by the bonsai’s charm.
7-9-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
On this trip, we enjoyed traditional Japanese culture, such as Japanese paper, used books, and bonsai, as well as modern sophistication by window shopping and visiting art galleries. Ruka, how was your trip to Ginza? “By focusing on sightseeing in one district, you can have fun interacting with the culture that is rooted in that place. Getting closer to Asakusa and Ginza made me like them even more,” says Ruka. If you saw anything you liked, try visiting for yourself!