If your purpose for travelling is to visit architecture, then any trip to Tokyo requires a stop in Ginza. Ginza is the high-end fashion district located in the shadow of the Imperial Palace where Japan’s imperial family resides, between Shimbashi and Tokyo Station. You’ll find countless flagship stores from Japanese and international high fashion brands, each designed by well-known architects. The most iconic building defining the area is the Wakō Building with its famous clock tower. Even if you can’t afford haute couture, it’s worth strolling around the area for buildings. If you arrive on the weekend between noon and 5pm, you can enjoy the hokōsha tengoku (歩行者天国), “pedestrian heaven”, when the main street running through Ginza is pedestrianized.


Wakō Building Architect: Jin Watanabe Architecture Public Office Year: 1932

The area was originally settled on a swamp that was filled in in the 16th Century. After a devastating fire destroyed many of the original wooden buildings, the government sought to rebuild the district using red brick in a Western style, employing Western architects and engineers to design the buildings and widen the streets to appear more “modern” and fire-resistant. The area was not as successful as the designs resulted in expensive rents few businesses could afford. Tourists were unimpressed to see familiar styles when they had come to Japan for a more “exotic” environment. Eventually, high-end companies opened shops in this area, turning it into one of the most expensive and luxurious districts in the world.

Below are some of the many buildings one can find in Ginza. There many more to discover on every block, and I do recommend one stop by the 12-storey Itoya stationery store to pick up some excellent Japanese stationery.

Written by Sheldon Defilippi.
Cover photo: Louis Vuitton Ginza Namiki
Architect: As Co., Peter Marino Architect
Year: 2021

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