Ginza, Tokyo’s posh shopping and entertainment district, has delighted visitors for over a century with high-end shops selling everything from jewelry and clothing to sweets and stationery.
But the Ginza area was once part of the sea. Reclaimed during the Edo Period (1603-1867) as part of the shogunate’s plan to develop the area, the district takes its name from “gin,” meaning silver, and “za,” for office, after a mint was set up there in 1612.
Interestingly enough, it was a devastating fire in 1872 that paved the way for Ginza’s lasting prosperity. Burned to the ground, the area was redeveloped with the goal of making it as fire-resistant as possible.
Using London and Paris as examples, the infrastructure was modernized by using bricks to build homes and sidewalks, and gas lamps to light the streets.
Reborn as “Bricktown,” Ginza soon became flush with tourists and shoppers who turned it into one of the glitziest places in the world.
After surviving the massive 1923 earthquake and the war, Ginza continues to evolve.
A rush of redevelopment projects has altered Ginza in recent years, with a giant new shopping complex to replace the Matsuzakaya Ginza department store due to open in November 2016. Another large commercial building is being erected at the bustling Sukiyabashi intersection.
Ginza is likely to be a popular spot during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as several hotels are due to pop up there to accommodate the tourist influx.
This section, appearing on the first Monday of each month, offers a snapshot view of areas that may interest tourists.