Thursday, November 3, 2016

exploring Ginza

On my second first afternoon in Tokyo (because the first first one was in March during sakura), I wanted to explore the train line that had a station right outside the hotel. Turns out that this is the Yurikamome line. I took the train to Shimbashi, one of the line's terminal stations... and found out that I was very close to the Ginza district. I haven't seen this area during my previous visit because Krishna and I visited other [shopping] places. So I thought it would be a good idea to explore the place. The weather was especially cold; I learned that the temperatures dipped into winter levels... and I was bundled up in a jacket and a thin scarf. But I brought my trusty umbrella with me. Suffice it to say that I had to do some shopping, for outerwear.

When I entered Ginza, I thought I was in retail-therapy paradise! My mom would surely enjoy walking through this place. It was just a whole stretch of malls and boutiques filled with luxury goods! Think Greenbelt, or Gangnam, or Ala Moana, or Orchard Road. The roads were well-lit; the stores' façades were bright and inviting; and I knew that my wallet was not in danger here because I everything was so expensive. Hence, I had good reason to smile.


I practically gawked at how big the flagship stores are in Ginza. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Bulgari, and Prada stores here were bigger than the branches I often pass by in Greenbelt. Prices here are way too high for me so I just had fun exploring the window displays. I was quite surprised that I didn't notice an Hermès boutique in my walk through this uppity shopping district.

And then, there was Uniqlo, which I believe has a reality distortion field. I mean, each time I enter a branch, I end up shopping in it! The Ginza branch spelled trouble for me... it occupies 12 floors of some building. That's 12 floors of clothes! It has got to be the biggest Uniqlo store in the world. And here I thought that the Uniqlo branch in SM Aura was huge. The Ginza branch just did it for me... but at least the prices weren't as scary as the luxury brands. I was able to buy a scarf better suited for the low temperatures of Tokyo's autumn... and I bought a coat too, in case weather drops to even colder conditions over the course of my trip here.

That was extremely good because I was quite unwilling to shell out a whole lot of money for a stole and a winter coat. But that unwillingness to pay has not stopped me to visit the Matsuya Ginza, one of the bigger department stores handling luxury brands. It's huge... I wasn't able to explore the whole mall. Not a problem though because many of the brands I found here are also in Adora, a department store I normally browse in in Greenbelt. But I've got to say that Matsuya felt busier and more crowded than Adora (I ended up liking Adora even more).

I have to admit that I am not a Nissan enthusiast. My brother had a Nissan Sentra until earlier this year and I have always pondered over what he was thinking when he bought it. Anyway, in Japan, Nissan occupies prime property in Ginza, right near a major intersection. The Nissan showroom was not as big as the other flagship stores but it's just as pretty. During my Ginza adventure, there's this car in the window. It certainly was an attention-grabber; passers by (like me) stopped by to take photos of this red car. It is called the "Nissan Gripz Concept" car. I'm not sure if this car is the market already; however, it reminds me of the car in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and of the Batmobile in the Chris Nolan trilogy. And I'm sure my brother has heard about it already, car enthusiast that he is.

As I took a left turn at one of the major intersections, I was surprised that the brand of coloured pencils and pens I had bought as souvenirs in Lausanne, Switzerland, Caran d'Ache, has a store in Ginza! I just had to go in and check it out! I was looking for those fine-tip coloured pens that could be used to fill in the tiniest of illustrations (so I could finish a few more Secret Garden Christmas gifts). Unfortunately, the store didn't have those pens that I was (still am) looking for. The saleslady was pointing me to the Fibralos and I already have those pens. Oh well... I'm quite sure I'll end up switching to German next time... and buy the Staedtler triplus fineliner 334.

And speaking of German brands, further down the same road, I found one of my favourite travel bag brands, Rimowa! I'm a big fan because the bags look sturdy and lightweight... perfect for me because the last time I was in Japan, I was told at the check-in counter that my carry-on was too heavy. And I only had my laptop, my phone, their chargers, my wallet, my passport, and my ticket in the bag! That meant that my carry-on bag was too heavy. Anyway, the Rimowa shop was small and they only had a few bags on display, making me feel I ought to buy a bag quickly... unlike the shop in Glorietta, which was quite big and I felt that I could take my time to browse the bags.

On my way back to Yurikamome line's Shimbashi Station, I just had to stop at yet another major intersection. This time, it was to look at the Wako building, which has a clock tower on top of it. Aside from the clock tower, what attracted me to the building's façade was the architecture. Unlike the other buildings which have ultramodern architecture (like glass all over), the architecture of the Wako building felt more neoclassical, with art deco elements in it... as if the building was there since the 1930s. It reminded me of the Metropolitan Theatre and the Jai Alai Building, two architectural gems I always loved to see when I was in Manila, back in the day. Sadly, the MET appears to be in disrepair while the Jai Alai building, one of the finest pieces of art deco architecture in Asia, was torn down in favour of a more modern building. 

I left the Ginza district with a sense of awe. Here I was, passing by some of the most expensive brands from around the world. This could very well be Tokyo's global face, the one that the rest of the world can easily relate with. I wondered how Tokyo's other modern facets, particularly the more Japanese ones, look like. 

I am already looking forward to my next evening walk into the heart of Tokyo.