Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district is known far and wide for its opulent array of shops and boutiques catering to those with more than a little bitcoins in their pockets. The most exquisite of luxury brands choose this part of town to put what is sometimes their most unique shop with the rarest of selections. Get ready to break out that Black Card and let’s do a little shopping— wait a sec…
This says Togoshi Ginza… Oh dear, I’m gonna need to start over with the intro…
whispering to editor
You sure you didn’t mean actual Ginza, ‘coz this is… yeah? oookay, but it’s definitely gonna be…. different.
Tokyo’s Togoshi Ginza shopping district is not known far and wide for almost anything unless you call Shinagawa Ward home, but the long shopping street located a scant few kilometers south of Shinagawa Station is a real hidden gem for those who’d like to find a rare combination of hyperlocal shops, mom & pop owned restaurants, and a leisurely place to kill time in the Metropolis.
While you’ll never find an outlet of Saks Fifth Avenue or Burberry, Togoshi-Ginza will show you a more relaxed side of Tokyo that is more reminiscent of a small town. This is how real residents of Japan go about their daily errands, usually on a street just like this one, and you will see grandmas grabbing their veggies from the greengrocers and salarymen checking out the local izakaya pubs along the 1.3km strip. You’ll also see lots of one-off shops nestled here and there as well as lots of snack food shops and restaurants. Togoshi-Ginza is known for its wide selection of street food outlets. From curry bread, senbei rice crackers, to oden boiled treats and onigiri rice balls– if it can be eaten on the go in Japan, you’ll find a shop selling it on this street.
There are so many places to pop in for a good meal in Togoshi-Ginza, but I have to recommend Ie Michi (家道) if you are looking to ‘get in, chow down, and get out’ in this age of the coronavirus. Most ramen shops are set up for this type of etiquette anyway, what with the ticket machine and low contact style of ‘slurp and go’ counter dining. But this place is special. I knew I was in for a treat because when I got to the ticket machine, there were only a few choices for the ramen
base meaning they make one type of ramen really good; in this case pork bone and soy. Next, you add toppings to it your way. This is ie kei ramen a style usually associated with Yokohama. The broth was thick and punchy and the noodles were like sponges, soaking up the goodness. I had stumbled into the middle of a diamond mine of ramen bliss. Little did I know that the place is known by many in ramen enthusiast circles since it’s one in the family of Musashi-Ke from Nakano (and now I see why they named the shop
Family Road in Japanese).
Whilst wandering around Japan’s longest shopping street, don’t forget to head off into the side streets and the surrounding neighborhood because you never know what you’ll find. In my case, I happened to find Dan Potato which specializes in all things potato and is probably the namesake of a certain vice-presidential gaffe from decades ago. There are good things like sweet potato tarts and fritters, the succulent savory things like their range of potato curries. Then there’s the thing that pulled me in off the street that was written on their signboard: Potato SHAKES. Not sure how that was going to taste, and needing something sweet after the ramen I had earlier, I saw this as a sign to go ahead and take one for the team. Inside, the store manager says she simply puts potato starch, ice, milk, and some natural flavors and spices into the blender in the right quantities, and magic is made. She then proceeded to whip up my first ever apple cinnamon potato shake. …Paradigms were shifted once I took the first sip. There are hot drinks as well (I need to try the sweet potato one soon!) and everything can be had to-go or delivered via Uber Eats if you live or work near enough.
After all that wandering around on the shopping street, you should save some time and head 300 meters south to Bunko no Mori and Togoshi Park for some green open spaces. Bunko no Mori or
cultural forest is a green square with an expansive playground if you have little ones in tow, and there are a nice duck pond and benches for you to chow down on the takeout you may have gotten from the cafes. Togoshi Park is literally a walled garden in the old Edo style, featuring wooden gates, well-trimmed hedges and trees, and a very large pond in which you’ll find lots of ducks, turtles, and fish.
Bunko No Mori Park
Address: 1-16-13 Yutakacho, Shinagawa, Tokyo
Address: 2-1-30 Yutakacho, Shinagawa, Tokyo
Web: Shinagawa Parks
The Togoshi-Ginza Shopping District Association has a really good information center that provides maps, guides, a very detailed website, and one of the coolest mascots for a shopping area in Japan, Togoshi Ginjiro! Head over to their website to check out the history and bookmark to your phone or tablet to refer to once you’re in the area. Or simply pop on into their storefront right in the middle of the district and pick up a copy of their map/guide (in many different languages!) and maybe a Gin-chan keychain!
The best way to arrive is via Tokyu’s Ikegami Line at Togoshi-Ginza station, which was renovated in 2016 in the historical wooden style that echos the nearby temple and shrine. You can also use Togoshi Station on the Toei Asakusa subway line.
Here’s a guide for you to get started on your own walking tour of Togoshi-Ginza! Have fun out there!
Apple Map Guide