Ginza | Tokyo | Street Photography

Ginza, Tokyo | Street Photography

Ginza is hands down one of my favorite places for photography in Tokyo. It’s a great place for people watching, gets some of the best light in the city, and brings a diverse crowd from all over the country. Shopping in Ginza is world class, but that’s not what I love so much about it. 

Without a doubt Ginza gets some of the best light in Tokyo. The buildings in Ginza are slightly shorter than those in Shinjuku or Shibuya, and the roads are wider. The structure of the cityscape in Ginza makes it easier to traverse the streets and put yourself in the right place with the right light. When the sun reaches it’s lowest point just before it dips behind the sky scrapers the buildings and streets are bathed in a golden light that I can’t help think is appropriate for a district with the cities most expensive shopping. 

The history of Ginza is pretty incredible. You wouldn’t think that a place that hosts brands like Burberry, Chanel, and Louis Vitton could be built on a former swamp, but indeed, Ginza was once the site of a swamp. The swamp was filled in the 16th century and a coin mint was established in it’s place which. The name “Ginza” is actually after the mint which resided there. 

During the post World War II occupation of Japan, Ginza was home to the Army’s PX. The PX served military service members and their families while they were stationed in Japan. The PX was eventually eliminated and the building returned to the management of Matsuya, who still run a store there today. I could go on about the history of Ginza, but instead I’ll refer you to the Official Ginza site which has some great history in English -


The last time I walked through Ginza I caught myself admiring the light. I was dead center in the cross walk and lifted my head to look at the buildings in the distance. When I did I saw this taxi driver with the quintessential scowl I’ve become so familiar with and I had to snap a picture. When I did he gave me the peace sign, or told me to piss off. Either way, it made for a good photo. 


The Cartier store in Ginza is one of the funniest sights to me: in front of it is a Japanese lottery booth. You’d think management would want that somewhere else, but I suppose if someone were to win big having them in front of your store wouldn’t be such a bad thing. 


One thing I like about this photo of the security guard is that it reminds me how much Tokyo is a maze of light and shadow. Pretty much everywhere you go in the city scenes like this unfold. I can only imagine how many dark corridors I’ve passed with camera shops in them. 


Ginza is great for the way it draws in people from all walks of lives. It’s not uncommon to see women in Kimonos out for a walk with their daughters, or people by themselves out looking for that perfect gift. Ginza is popular amongst both the young and old alike. When I turned and saw this man behind me I had to take his photo. 


It’s incredibly easy to get around in Ginza, but if you’re lost look for the Koban box. The police are friendly and always happy to help. This gentleman was lost and needed two or three minutes worth of directions before he was finally on his way. I thought things like that only happened to me, but it’s good to know I’m not the only one. 


Japan as a whole seems like it’s always in this state of flux. The city is never complete, and there’s always something being made way for. Even in the neighborhoods it seems there is always at least one house being renovated. Near the Asakusa Line this construction site gets a lot of attention from passersby. The light that day was awesome. 


One thing a lot of people don’t know is that Ginza is actually a great neighborhood for camera shopping. It’s not centrally located like Shinjuku, and the prices are possibly a tad higher because of the rent in this district, but if you want to take your time and find the camera of your dreams chances are Ginza has it. There’s no less than four used camera shops in Ginza and they’re all world class with brands like Haselblad and Leica, as well as hometown heroes like Canon, Nikon, and Fuji. 


Sadly one of my favorite shops under this red awning closed recently. I bought my beloved Pen F there, but now the store, like my Pen F, is no more. Luckily there’s several other shops in the neighborhood. 


This monk is in Ginza every time I’ve been to Ginza. In all fairness it may be a different monk each time and I just can’t tell, but if I had to bet money I’d say it’s the same one. Most often he’s right near the exit for the train above ground. If you see him, and snap a pic, it’s best to leave an offering in his dish. 


While Harajuku might be known for it’s style there’s certainly something to be said for Ginza as well. I loved this guys’ glasses. He was understated in the way he dressed and by no means flashy, but the glasses were definitely some of the most stylish ones I’ve seen in a while. 

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