From modern art to classic Noh, with world-class shopping and dining to boot. Let’s take a look!
Roppongi’s Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills have long dominated the Tokyo scene when it comes to mixed-use developments with international appeal, but a new contender is set to open its doors this month in the heart of Ginza.
Built on the former site of the venerable Matsuzakaya department store, GINZA SIX aims to offer not just another layer to Ginza’s already hopping shopping and dining scene, but also serve as a center for business and community by offering attractive public spaces, innovative contributions to cultural life and maintaining disaster response facilities. And mindful of Ginza’s international appeal, they are doing it in multiple languages.
We had a chance to take a sneak peek at the new facility before its opening this week, so let’s take a look at the features most likely to appeal to the overseas visitor.
Image: GINZA SIX
Obviously, a big draw as far as many visitors are concerned is shopping, and GINZA SIX has that in spades. It’s currently the largest retail facility in the Ginza area, boasting 241 stores, 121 of which are flagships. The big names in global fashion are represented, as are heavyhitters in Japanese cultural goods, like imperial lacquerware provider Yamada Heiando and Kyoto tea producer Tsujiri. Many of the stores have produced items exclusively available at GINZA SIX.
Food hounds that we are, we mostly enjoyed the basement snack floor, particularly the semi-dried fruit at AYAfarm and artisinal caramels and candies at Spanish brand Papabubble.
▼ Because they are not completely dried, you still get a lot of tartness from the fruit.
▼ Super cute and super good. The canisters are available in metal and washi paper and resemble traditional tea holders.
Image: GINZA SIX
The airy central atrium has been envisaged as place to collaborate with world famous artists on large-scale installations. For the opening, under the supervision of the Mori Art Museum, GINZA SIX commissioned a piece from homegrown avante-garde superstar Yayoi Kusama of 14 huge red-and-white polka-dotted pumpkins.
In addition, permanent art pieces are placed through out the complex, including two 12-meter-long living walls produced as a collaboration between digital artist group teamLab and botanical artist Patrick Blanc. One is a huge LED screen, projecting a 3-D simulation of a waterfall, while the other is a wall of living plants native to Japan.
Image: GINZA SIX
Image: GINZA SIX
The complex is also the new home of the Kanze School of Noh, which can trace its history back nearly 700 years to one of the founders of Noh. The group had their historic stage transplanted plank by plank to its new location in GINZA SIX, where it was paired with state-of-the-art sound and lighting, improved handicapped access and a multilingual interpretation system.
▼ Noh is an ancient style of musical drama featuring masks and stylized chanting.
In addition to its role as a hub for tour buses, GINZA SIX offers international visitors a variety of services from its multilingual tourist information center and 24-hour convenience store Terminal Ginza. Sightseeing information is available from 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. in Japanese, English and Chinese. Currency exchange, delivery services, baggage storage and a duty free counter are also available.
The convenience store part, a new concept store from Lawson, combines the usual drinks and snacks with display strategies aimed at international visitors. Everyday items from makeup to beers have helpfully been labeled as good souvenirs specifically from Ginza, the broader Tokyo area or Japan. Additionally, there are souvenirs from local manufacturers and shops available for purchase and an exclusive line of snacks based on regional Japanese flavors.
▼Regional Japanese snacks like honey rice crisps from Hokkaido and dried peaches from Fukushima.
▼ Locally produced soy sauce and tamari in perfect gift sizes
▼ Traditional cloth and paper products from a famous store nearby
▼ Cup noodles marked as a popular Tokyo souvenir by the green “local” tag next to the price
And of course, being a Japanese department store, there are plenty of places to eat. And being Ginza, many of them are fine dining. There’s a high-end sushi counter and French dining, as well as a grill specializing in aged beef. Other standouts are Emit Fishbar for fresh oysters and Daruma Kiwami for kushiage courses, delicious skewered tidbits of deep-fried deliciousness.
There’s plenty for more budget-conscious visitors to enjoy too, though, including the snazzy Starbucks Reserve Bar with small-batch coffees available to brew in various ways, from classic hand-pouring to high-tech nitro cold brewing.
Our legions of Starbucks fans will want to snap up limited-edition merch like these Mino-yaki and Hasami-yaki mugs.
My personal favorite find was Mixology Salon, a small tea shop and bar featuring tea-inspired cocktails. Not only is it rare to find a nice bar in Ginza open before the moon comes out, but this one is brought to us by cocktail wizard Shuzo Nagumo of Tokyo’s popular Codename Mixology bars.
▼A kinkan citrus and genmai tea mocktail, since I was on the job. I’ll be back to try that gyokuro green tea martini…
Even just reading about all the stuff GINZA SIX has going on, you are probably feeling a bit worn out. Well, they thought of that too.
The rooftop is a lovely green space with lots of little nooks for reading or eating a boxed lunch. Both Tokyo Tower and Skytree are visible for photo buffs and there’s lots of room to let rambunctious kids run out some of their energy. There’s even a little shrine if you want to pray to the gods that your overworked credit card makes it through the rest of the trip.
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 6-10-1
Shops open 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., restaurants 11:00 a.m. -11:30 p.m.
Top photo: Ginza Six
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