Tokyo in Pics


A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Tokyo at Night - Ginza

The day super typhoon Lan left Tokyo, I decided to head out and shoot.  I hadn’t shot outside for a few days, which was very depressing, as the typhoon’s approach had brought a tremendous amount of rain to the city.  So, once the rain cleared I decided to revitalize myself by heading somewhere colourful, Ginza!  Ginza, one of the most expensive places in the world to shop.  It has seen a lot of changes over the years, but with lots of neon lights, people, glitz, incredible shopfront displays and some great architecture, it seemed the ideal place to shoot.

The famous Wako department store and its famous clock tower

It is a real pity that Ginza is a little far for me.  And it is also a pity that I have to work at night.  If it weren’t for those two problems I imagine I would be shooting there far more often.  As it stands now I can only go there after work which limits my shooting there.  Still, my feelings for it haven’t changed.  When I first came to Japan, Ginza was a magical place for me especially at night, with all the high-class shopping, shopfronts and neon lights.

The Nissan showroom in Ginza

And it is the architecture of Ginza that I appreciate.  Granted a lot of buildings are quite dated, with some going back to the 1970s and even some cases the 1960s and earlier.  I don’t find that to be a problem though, as it adds some history to the area and some are truly iconic,  such as the Wako department store with its famous clock tower.  However, Ginza gets regular facelifts with additions of new buildings like Ginza Six, Bvlgari and Chanel.  Every few year, maybe every few months, some new building goes up there.  If you look at land prices, it is easy to see how popular the area is with some parts of it fetching over ¥50 million per square meter.

So many cars, people and light in Ginza

Ginza, as far as I’m concerned, is a little unique in Tokyo.  It is a melting pot of the old and the new.  While there are many “old world” shops there, many new companies looking to push into the area, like budget-minded Uniqlo.  Twenty or thirty years ago it would have been hard to imagine a company like Uniqlo doing business there, and when the store was originally announced for Ginza, there was a lot of resistance due to its budget image.  The building does look very nice though.

The Uniqlo building in Ginza

A walk around Ginza at night can reveal what kind of people go to its high-end restaurants and clubs.  You don’t just get people going there just for a night out with friends, but also a lot of business gets discussed in these places.  In Japan a lot of business gets discussed over food and drinks, so Ginza is a great place for it.  It is also possible to see kimono-clad women going to work at their hostess clubs, or escorting customers to their taxis once a night draws to a close.  That is something I enjoy seeing, and you don’t see much of it in other parts of the city these days.

Overall, I had a good night’s photography but it made me realize that my tripod is starting to fail me a little as I noticed it was wobbling occasionally.  Hopefully I can get a few more months use out of it before I really need to buy a new one.  So, at one point I decided to put it away and shoot just handheld, which was okay.

Ginza is still full of glitz and glamour, much the same as when I first saw it twenty-five years ago.  If you are looking for somewhere to enjoy a night out shopping, walking or eating and drinking as well as taking a few photographs, it is the place for you.  Please leave any comments you have in the space below and please return to see more pictures of Ginza as I will post another article about it at a later date.