Ginza - Pedestrian Heaven
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.