Tokyo 日 2: Car Free Day in Ginza

Japanese city maps which are placed around to help guide tourists and visitors rarely point north. Their top will always be the direction in which you stand when looking on the map.

Ginza featured

We arrived in Tokyo yesterday and since it is Sunday, I’d planned for us to visit the Shinagawa Intercity Flea Market near Shinagawa Station before exploring the famous shopping district Ginza. Ginza is particularly interesting on Sundays when the main street is closed off for traffic.

Shinagawa Intercity
Shinagawa Intercity
Shinagawa Intercity Flea Market

I have terrible trouble with reading Japanese maps, because they defy some of the fundamentals of what I know from home. On a European map the top will always point North and any city map you find will no matter where it is placed show North at the top. The same way we see a Europe or world map with the northern hemisphere on top.

Shinagawa Intercity Flea Market
Shinagawa Intercity Flea Market

But Japanese city maps which are placed around to help guide tourists and visitors rarely point north. Their top will always be the direction in which you stand when looking on the map. For some reason it makes sense, and it reminds me of that scene on Friends when Joe and Chandler are sightseeing in London and Joey places the map on the street and steps on it for a chance of an overview. Joey would feel right at home in Japan.

Stand at Shinagawa Intercity Flea Market
Stand at Shinagawa Intercity Flea Market

I however am lost. It doesn’t help much that everything is written in kanji signs.

Thus, finding our way from the Shinagawa train station to the flea market proved a challenge. It didn’t help any that the flea market took place inside a nondescript modern building.

Refreshments
Refreshments

To top it off, when we arrived we soon realised that my boyfriend had forgotten his credit card and we were running low on cash.  We spent the next 45 minutes attempting to find a way into the glass room where the building’s ATM was placed. Sundays really are a bitch when on holiday. In addition, my boyfriend had to make his way home to Shibuya to assure that it was in fact forgotten and not stolen.

I ended up only scarcely looking through the items at the flea market with nothing catching my attention before we were meeting up again in Ginza.

Car Free Ginza
Car Free Ginza
Ginza

Ginza however caught my attention and interest. Ginza is a shoppers paradise. One of the most prestigious and well known shopping districts in the world.

PIAS Ginza building
PIAS Ginza building

Here you’ll find flagship stores for most of Japan’s international brands like Sony and Uniqlo as well as foreign designers from H&M to Gucci and Vuitton.

Louis Vuitton in Ginza
Louis Vuitton in Ginza

But what truly caught me here was that on Sundays, the main shopping streets in Ginza become car free and open up to shoppers drinking a coffee at a café in the middle of the grand Tokyo boulevards.

Car Free Ginza
Car Free Ginza

It seems as if the area with its beautiful high-rises gets a chance to breath and show off its very best with the open space.

This is the perfect place for commercial events and advertisement and we ran into a large group of kimono clad women posting for some commercial photography shooting. They seemed quite content also posting for everyone else.

Ginza on Sundays is definitely one of my favourite shopping experiences except that we didn’t buy anything. But how on earth would I have the space for more shopping.

Hèrmes
Hèrmes

It was simply the fresh feeling of space on the open road which made me fall in love with this area.

Car Free Ginza
Car Free Ginza

Our final stop in Ginza was Hibiya Chanter Square, which we spent quite a bit of time in search of. We wanted to see the iconic Godzilla at Hibiya Chanter Square.

Restaurant in the tunnel under the train tracks
Restaurant in the tunnel under the train tracks

I trust that this is how people feel when they find The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen and realise that it is not the size of the Statue of Liberty, but merely human-sized. This iconic Godzilla is a small statue, which seems easy to miss entirely. But it is there, and we saw it, documented it with a picture and went on our way.

Godzilla at Hibiya Chanter Square
Godzilla at Hibiya Chanter Square

From Ginza we moved on to the Marunouchi business district with a plan to visit the Marunochi Building from where we had read that the view of Tokyo should be pretty good. Evening was coming around and the streets of Marunouchi were dead quiet with the massive buildings all around standing as guards for the coming night.

View from the Marunouchi Building at night
View from the Marunouchi Building at night

When we finally found Marunochi Building it was dark, but this only made the view from the top so much more magical. Watching the lights of Tokyo spreading out below us was absolutely amazing, and best of all it was free.

Tokyo Station
Tokyo Station
Tokyo Ramen Street at Tokyo Station

Marunouchi begins at Tokyo Station and after a long first day in Tokyo, we only had one stop left before returning to Shibuya and our pleasant little studio apartment.

Tokyo Station Ramen Street
Tokyo Station Ramen Street

Tokyo Station is famous for its Ramen Street, which offers eight of the best ramen shops in Tokyo. The eight restaurants are found at the Yaesu Underground Exit of Tokyo Station.

Ramen shop in Tokyo Station
Ramen shop in Tokyo Station

We had some trouble finding the place, but once we arrived we were in no doubt that we had found it. Long lines in front of all the restaurants spoke to the popularity of this place.

Ramen ordering machine
Ramen ordering machine

However, ramen shops have a marvellous system of paying in a machine before getting a seat, and so the serving went fast, and it was not long before we got a table in one of the shops alongside a refreshing bowl of ramen.

Train at Tokyo Station
Train at Tokyo Station

The best ending to our first full day in Tokyo.

Zofka

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