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.
Electric signs are now the Ginza's icons.
Never projecting to the curb, the signs are both brilliant and restrained.
Signs line even the Ginza's narrower streets.
Turn off the lights, however, and the neighborhood goes flat. The buildings themselves are of almost no interest.
Meanwhile, advertising advances the old Meiji mission of Culture and Enlightenment: here, Nicole does Omega.
You expected Bill Murray?
The magazine Brutus promotes itself in ways that would have appalled the rulers of Edo, old Tokyo.
The nightly show.
Down a block.
In the morning light, once again gray as gray can be.
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