UrbanWeird Photography
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Photo Sketchbook

Thoughts on general photography and personal photographic process.

Ginza - Pedestrian Heaven

Alms for the Postmodern

Another one of my favourite spots in Tokyo to wonder around photographing and an option for a Photo Exploration is Ginza; the Grande Dame of high-end shopping in Tokyo.

However, Ginza was not always so glamorous. Before the 1500s, it was just a swamp (like most of today's central Tokyo). In the early 1600s, it started to get an identity when a silver-coin mint was established there; hence, the name 'Ginza' or 'Silver Guild'. In the early 1870s, a major fire destroyed the area and a modernization project began including western-style brick buildings and grid street layout (one of the very few in Tokyo). Interestingly, it was not very popular with the foreign visitors at the time who expected a more "authentic" Japanese feel.

Today, Ginza is facing fierce competition from newer hipper upstart shopping districts such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Harajuku. But there is a sort of sophistication that Ginza still holds onto that the others just do not have thanks in part to its wide streets and sidewalks. This makes a much more relaxing place to shop. There is very little nasally caterwauling from shop assistants haranguing you to come in and have a look. That sort of behavior would not be tolerated in Ginza, Dahhhhling.

On weekends from noon to 5:00pm, the main drag of the district is closed to cars and pedestrians are free to roam in the street or sit at several of the umbrella-shaded tables put out on the street and just have a relaxing day shopping and people watching. This is quite special is a this rather pedestrian unfriendly city. It is actually called, Hokousha Tengoku, Hokoten for short, which means "Pedestrian Heaven". It is not only pedestrian heaven but also street photographers’ heaven.

Window (is) Shopping