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Notes on the Geography of Japan: Tokyo: Ginza

The name comes from the Tokugawa Ieyasu, who established a mint in 1612 at a place soon called Ginza--literally, the place where silver is coined.  In 1872 the neighborhood was devastated by a fire, and the government hired Thomas Waters to recreate a London landscape.  The result probably explains why Isabella Bird in the 1880s compared Tokyo to Chicago.  Nothing is left of Ginza Bricktown, but before it was incinerated in World War II the Ginza had already become a shopper's Mecca.

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Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 1

Electric signs are now Ginza icons.

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 2

Never projecting to the curb, the signs are both brilliant and restrained.

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 3

Signs line even the Ginza's narrower streets.

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 4

Turn off the lights, however, and the neighborhood goes flat.  The buildings themselves are of almost no interest.

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 5

Meanwhile, advertising advances the old Meiji mission of Culture and Enlightenment: here, Nicole does Omega.

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 6

You expected Bill Murray?

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 7

Anonymous giant.

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 8

The magazine Brutus promotes itself in ways that would have appalled the rulers of Edo, old Tokyo.

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 9

The nightly show.

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 10

Down a block.

Japan: Tokyo: Ginza picture 11

In the morning light, gray as gray can be.


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