One of the most famous areas of Tokyo is Ginza, located centrally in the greater Tokyo area, Ginza is not only one of the best places to stay in Tokyo, but it’s also one of the oldest areas of Japan’s capital city.
Ginza was our recent choice for the best area to stay in Tokyo thanks to it’s great location, fantastic transport connections to the rest of the city and the many things to do in Ginza.
I also love the area’s proximity to Tokyo Station - perfect if you plan to take the Shinkansen elsewhere in Japan such as down to Kyoto or Osaka, or to Nagano.
So if you’re planning on staying in Ginza, here’s a guide to the best things to see and do in Ginza, Tokyo during your stay.
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With a history dating back to the Edo period of the sixteenth century, Ginza was originally the city mint, producing the silver coins used for trading.
This also explains the origins of Tsukiji Fish Market in the main trading area of the city.
Now, Ginza is most famous as the shopping district and is home to luxury brands and flagship stores.
Where to stay in Ginza
We stayed at the Tokyo Mercure Ginza which was a perfect location for walking to all the main sights and places to visit in Ginza that we wanted to see.
The Mercure also offers breakfast with their stay which we generally found hard to come by at most hotels in Japan.
I loved their mix of traditional Japanese decor with modern style and the staff were all wonderfully welcoming and helpful.
Read about my stay in more detail here or click here to check prices and availability.
What to do in Ginza, Tokyo
Go shopping in Ginza
Ginza is perhaps most famous as the shopping district in Tokyo.
The famous Ginza Six department store is full of designer shops, boutique brands and independent stores. I also love the Tsutaya bookstore on the top floor.
There are also countless other luxury brands, clothing stores, popular Japanese brands, clothing, wellness and electronics stores on Ginza High Street - if you’re planning to do some serious shopping in Tokyo, this is the place to be.
Get a fun embroidered souvenir at Uniqlo Ginza flagship store
Although the embroidery service is available at several major Uniqlo stores worldwide (including London Covent Garden), I couldn’t resist getting a personalised embroidery on my own Uniqlo item at the flagship store in Ginza Tokyo.
The Uniqlo flagship store in 12 stories of clothing and if you love the Uniqlo style and brand, this is a must-visit!
The customisation department allows you to either embroider or laminate print onto almost any item you buy from the store.
First you buy the item, then you take it to the customisation desk and you can choose from a vast selection of designs as well as add your own text.
I got an embroidery of Mount Fuji with my name in Japanese Kanji on one of the famous Uniqlo crossbody bags.
Try fresh seafood at the famous Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the top attractions in Tokyo and for good reason.
While the indoor market has now moved to another location in Tokyo, the outer market is still there, huge and thriving.
You can get incredible, fresh seafood, sashimi, oysters, rare tuna cuts and other street food items for a fraction of the price you would pay in a restaurant - without a doubt one of the best things to do in Ginza.
Make sure you try the seafood bowls at Unitora Nakadori or head to Sushizanmai for amazing sushi.
Ginza Pedestrian Paradise
On every Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 12 midday until 6pm, the famous Ginza High Street is closed to traffic and you can have the unique experience of walking along the usually busy street without any cars in sight.
The Ginza Pedestrian Paradise has been running since 1970 along a 1km stretch with vendors selling everything from artwork and housewares to souvenirs and many musical and street performances.
Not many people know about this before visiting Ginza, making one of the more unique things to do in Ginza.
See a show at Kabuki-za theatre
The famous Kabuki-za theatre is one of the oldest in Japan and here you can see traditional performances such as traditional Japanese story depictions and kabuki dances.
Try waygu beef for £7
If you’ve always wanted to try Waygu Beef but you’re put off by the price tag, I highly recommend visiting GrillBon in Ginza.
At GrillBon you can get a Waygu Beef sandwich for the equivalent of £7 - an absolute bargain and so tasty!
Have a drink at Japan’s oldest beer hall - Ginza Lion
Beer lovers, this one is for you!
The Ginza Lion beer hall is a Japanese protected building due to its cultural heritage and it’s the oldest beer hall in Japan and the beer served is the famous Japanese Yebisu beer. They also have Sapporo and Eisbein among others.
Inside the dark tile and wooden style is very reminiscent of a German bierkeller and they even serve pretzels, sausages and saurkraut in German-style Lederhosen.
Pro tip - the line here gets pretty long but we realised most people were there to dine and drink. We went to the front of the queue and said we only wanted a drink and we were shown to a table in the bar area right away.
Booklovers need to visit Tsutaya Books in Ginza Six
This bookstore is a book lover’s dream.
Not only was there a great range of Japanese and English language books to browse but I also loved that people were actually in there reading, sitting in corners with a book and just spending time there like a library. As someone who used to work in the book publishing industry - I’m always thrilled to see that!
The floating bookcases allow access from either side and the industrial-wood style is also beautiful, modern yet with a distinct Japanese style aesthetic.
Get dinner at the hidden izakaya street under Yurakucho Station
Yes, people always talk about Golden Gai and Memory Lane in Shinjuku but most people don’t know there is another, similar winding maze of alleyways packed with warmly lit izakayas producing a range of specialty dishes and drinks popular with locals after a day at work.
To find the izakaya street, go to Yurakucho Station and walk along the railway arches on the outside until you reach the tunnel with traffic passing through, in the middle of the tunnel is the alleyway.
We went here on our first night in Ginza and if you’re looking for places to eat in Ginza - this is definitely one of the most fun, authnetic and lesser known spots.
Stationary lovers don’t miss Itoya’s 12 floors of stationery
It’s no secret that Japanese stationary is NEXT LEVEL.
So if you’re ready to do some stationary shopping, don’t miss Itoya in Ginza.
This Ginza stationary shop is packed with everything from cute stamps and beautiful journals to amazing art supplies, adorable washi tape and chic ways to decorate your bullet journal, diaries or doodles.
Get amazing ramen at Ramen Takahashi
We went here for Thanksgiving and it did not disappoint and In fact we went back a month later on the last night of our trip too!
This is a classic ramen restaurant if you’re looking for places to eat in Ginza. With a small menu selection that they specialise in, the ramen broth is primarily miso broth which is my favourite as I find soy sauce and other broths too salty.
Pay and make your order at the vending machine outside the restaurant before joining the queue. When it’s your turn, a member of staff will come out to take your ticket and show you to the available seat.
Warning - the queue here does get big, especially on weekends! We found going on a weekday and for an early dinner around 5pm - before the after-work rush - was best.
See Hibiya Park
A location for seeing cherry blossoms in Ginza in spring, autumn colours in the fall and Christmas lights in December.
Hibiya Park is worth a stroll around at all times of the year if you’re looking for things to see in Ginza!
Visit the Imperial Palace
While I’m not sure if the Imperial Palace is technically classed as being in Ginza, we found it to be an easy walk from our hotel or just a couple of stops on the subway.
While you can’t go inside the Imperial Palace itself, you can wander around the vast grounds and see the beautiful gardens, shrines and Edo Castle ruins which are all free to visit.
See the first Torii Gate
On the far side of the Imperial Palace is the first Torii gate.
While this is a popular tourist attraction, I think it’s one well worth seeing from a historical perspective. As it’s a block torii gate, rather than the usual red ones and serves as the entrance to the Yasukuni Shrine, a famous and often controversial shrine that commemorates those who died in service to Japan, including wa ciminals.
Explore the craft beer scene in Ginza
Maybe one of the lesser known things to do in Ginza, but we found there to be a great craft beer scene in Ginza Tokyo.
Check out these places to drink in Ginza if you’re into craft beer:
Tokyo Aleworks Station Taproom Yurakucho
Brewin' Bar & Nature Ginza Brewery
New Tokyo Beer Hall
Ginza Lion Beer Hall
Where to eat in Ginza, Tokyo
I’ve already mentioned a few Ginza restaurants and places to eat in Ginza so here’s a full list of places we ate and places we wanted to eat but didn’t have time!
GrillBon - Waygu Sandwich
Izakaya Street under Yurakucho station
Places in Tsukiji Fish Market
Chao Chao yoza
Tsujita Tsukemen Ramen Ginza
Summary: the best things to do in Ginza, Tokyo
Ginza is not only a great base to explore Tokyo from, but it also has so much to see and do in its own right.
You could spend 2-3 days just exploring Ginza with so much great shopping, food and attractions nearby. But also the convenience of multiple subway stops to visit other parts of the city and Tokyo Station just a short walk away for Shinkansen rides to explore the rest of Japan.
Pin for later to plan your trip!