How I spent my time in Ginza, Tokyo (and discovered this Oasis by chance)

This was my final day based out of Akihabara, and my plan was to shop around Ginza and Tokyo Station. You’ll also see me travelling to Shinjuku to collect Hakone Free Pass, which I would tap on for all my travelling needs for the next 3 days.

Hibiya Park Ginza
Hibiya Park in Ginza

If you like a chronological flow of my 9-day Tokyo solo trip, check out these posts first:

Done reading? Let’s continue and see how my itinerary was like on Day 3!

 


Why I missed Tsukiji Outer Market

I’d mixed feeling about Tsukiji Outer Market and contemplated for a long time before deciding to visit the ex-fish market that was said to be super-crowded, touristy and pricey.

On my way there while sitting on the train, I discovered (via Google map) that Tsukiji Outer Market was not opened today (Sunday). Ah…no wonder the train was unusually quiet.

I made a quick decision and decided to alight at Ginza even though it was a tad too early.  :) 

TRAVEL SAVING: Get a Tokyo Subway Pass for unlimited train rides covering over 250 stations in Tokyo. It’s available in 24, 48 or 72 hours. 

 


9 Things to do in Ginza (Tokyo) 

(9.25am)

Since the malls at Ginza had yet to open, I decided to start my tour around Ginza, Tokyo by visiting a popular Japan-bred “monster”. 

1. Godzilla Statue near Ginza Station

It took only 3 minutes to walk to Godzilla statue from Ginza Station. I wasn’t disappointed by the small size of the monster because I’d managed my expectation well.

Godzilla Statue Ginza
Godzilla and his favourite security guard

If your itinerary is packed, this attraction can be skipped. :) But since I had nothing to do this early in Ginza, it’s ok to kill some time and take selfies with the fictional monster that debuted in 1954.

NEARBY ATTRACTION: A popular attraction near Ginza and Tsukiji Outer Market is teamLab Planets Tokyo. Some said it offered “out of the world experience”. Check it out!

Godzilla Statue Ginza
Godzilla above my head

2. Hibiya Park: What an alluring park in middle of city!

(10am)

After paying Godzilla a visit, I was at a cross-road deciding between returning to the shopping malls or to venture slightly further to Hibiya Park. This park was never on my itinerary – I just happened to see the road signage pointing to it. 

I’m glad I decided to make a short detour to Hibiya Park as it was beautiful, tranquil and compact. I later learnt that it was Japan’s first Western-style park, built in 1903.

Hibiya Park
Heart Pond in Hibiya Park, Ginza

Upon entering the park, I was impressed by the stunning view of Shinji-ike Pond (aka “Heart Pond”). It’s a really beautiful pond especially on a bright sunny day, when water reflected like a mirror.

I wanted to sit by the pond and soak in the view, but my hunger was urging me to be “quick”.

Things to do in Ginza Tokyo

Brisk-walked through the park and passed by some lovely flower beds, pretty statues and a charming fountain.

Recommended Sushi Tokyo

I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful park and was so glad it was added to my Tokyo itinerary, albeit quite last minute! :)

Hibiya Park Tokyo
Flower beds in first western park in Japan
Things to do in Ginza Tokyo
Beautiful pelican fountain

3. Lots of food at Matsuya Ginza Mall, but where’re the seats?

(10.45am)

From online reviews I’ve read, Matsuya Mall should be a place with lots of food options. Indeed, there were a few floors (at the basements) selling ready-to-eat food.

Matsuya Ginza Mall

Matsuya Ginza Food
Bento normally sold at lower floors of most departmental stores

But after searching for 30 minutes (and I was dead hungry by then), I still couldn’t find a corner for people to sit down and dine properly.

With the help of Google translate, the staff told me that I could buy the bento and have it at the rooftop terrace (one level above 8F). I recced and woah….it was hot leh! 

Matsuya Ginza Food
Rooftop was hot leh!

Sadly, I abandoned the decision to have my meal at Matsuya Mall, and tapped on Google map to quickly look for a nearby restaurant with good reviews. It was past 11am and I was darn hungry, alright?

TIP: Having 4G connectivity is extremely useful in Japan. You can either check reviews on the spot or have access to on-the-go translating tool (via Google Translate). This 4G SIM card that I used worked well throughout my 9-day Tokyo trip. 

4. Tsukiji Sushitei Restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo

I was glad to find a sushi restaurant just next to Matsuya Ginza mall, that was located on the 4th floor of an inconspicuous building. 

Recommended Sushi Tokyo

Unfortunately, the restaurant staff sat me at a spot which I thought was quite awkward for a solo diner. As you see, I was the only one facing a row of customers from my L-shape corner.

In addition, the chef’s working station was right in front of me, and he was looking at me earnestly awaiting my order. Seemed like chefs at this type of restaurants are supposed to engage with their customers. 

Tsukiji Sushitei Ginza
Interactive chefs!

But….it’s a good experience nevertheless. Others (locals) ordered sushi by verbal order, telling the chef what they wanted – one at a time. Since I do not speak Japanese, I picked a tourist-friendly lunch set (¥1800).

Recommended Food in Ginza
My ¥1800 sushi lunch

The sushi was nice! But what’s even better was the chef offering to help me take photos. Too bad my background was too ugly – so not showing you! :)  

Recommended Sushi Tokyo

5. Mitsukoshi Ginza Mall

(12pm)

Done with the sushi meal, I popped into Mitsukoshi Ginza, a very popular mall in the area. The ready-to-eat food at B2 looked really good too!  

>> MUST-READ: 25 things to buy in Japan that are affordable and loved by locals

Mitsukoshi Ginza Mall
Lots of food options at Mitsukoshi mall

There were 12 storeys to explore, but I was running short of time and quickly proceeded to shops I wanted to visit (scroll down to see).

6. Chuo Dori Street turned into a large pedestrian zone

On my way to Uniqlo Ginza, I was surprised to see pedestrians walking freely on a multi-lane road meant for cars.

Chuo Dori Street Ginza

It was an interesting sight especially when you see cafe-like tables and chairs laid out in the middle of the road (and people resting there).

At first, I thought movies were being shot (and those under shaded umbrellas were cast). It’s only when I was working on this post that I found out that Chuo Dori Street is closed to traffic on weekends, from noon to around 6pm. 

Chuo Dori Street Ginza
See people sitting behind me, as if they were at a cafe? :)

7. Must-visit Uniqlo Outlet in Tokyo 

Soon, I was at Uniqlo, Ginza. If you can only visit one Uniqlo store in your Tokyo trip, let it be Uniqlo Ginza. 

Uniqlo Ginza
Uniqlo Ginza

You get to shop through 12 storeys of casual clothings, though I have to declare first that each storey wasn’t big. Thank god as it made shopping more manageable (else, I’ll be stuck here the whole day).

I like this store as the clothes were well-organised and aisles were wide enough. The crowd wasn’t maddening (unlike my experience in Shibuya).

>> MUST-READ: 25 things to buy in Japan that are affordable and loved by locals

Uniqlo Ginza
Uniqlo Ginza Flagship store

Things were generally 30% cheaper than in Singapore. Sadly, as I would be travelling to onsen town “Hakone” tomorrow, I had to restrain the inner shopping monster in me. 

DUTY-FREE TIP: I was so used to buying food and cosmetics that I didn’t recall that general non-perishable items such as clothings can be used in the country and still enjoy tax-free rebates.

Luckily I checked with the sales assistant just before I was about to ask her to pack my purchase into two separate packs – tax-free and non-tax free. That was not necessary and she helped me save some money.

8. Muji Ginza Flagship Store (missed)

I’d wanted to visit Muji Ginza, but time was ticking and I had to rush to Shinjuku Station to collect my Hakone Free Pass before the counter closed at around 4pm.

If you have a chance to visit Muji Ginza, do share if its worth visiting as compared to other Muji outlets in Tokyo.

9. Tokyo Station is nearby (missed)

I also had to skip Tokyo Station, which is located near Ginza station. That’s okay as I would revisit on another day. Will show you what I did there later. :)

Now, let me rush to Shinjuku station!

 


Errand: Collect Hakone Free Pass @ Shinjuku Station

(2.20pm)

As I would be lugging my luggage and travelling to Hakone the next day, I thought it’s better for me to do a recce today in hands-free mode. The aim was to find the best route to get to Odakyu train entrance, and to collect my Hakone 3-day pass which I’d pre-purchased online. 

How to buy Hakone Free Pass

Luckily, I did this site recce as Shinjuku station was so densely-connected (with more than 20 platforms and satellite stations) it would be darn easy to get lost there.   

How to buy Hakone Free Pass

Following signages, I made my way to Odakyu Service Centre and collected the Hakone 3-day pass, as well as gathered some useful info, such as train timetable and Hakone brochure. The staff there were very helpful!

Odakyu Service Centre

TRAVEL SAVINGS: Hakone is a beautiful town and I highly recommend that you spend at least 2 nights there. If you are visiting, get a 2- or 3-day Hakone Free Pass that would cover all transport expenses required to get to Hakone (from Shinjuku) and getting around within the resort town itself. You can also enjoy discounts at attractions by flashing the free pass. 

Walked by many restaurants within Shinjuku station, but it was too early for dinner. I chanced upon a store selling Mochi in multiple flavours and couldn’t help getting one. It’s so cheap – 100 yen only!

Guess which flavour I got? Scroll down to find out.

What to eat in Japan
I bought yam flavour. :)

 


What’s next? In the afternoon, I would return to my base at Akihabara and do a quick exploration of the manga and electronic town. Check out the next post!

Essential Info (Day 3 AM):

Map Locations of Tokyo Itinerary (Day 3)

Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara Hotel > Akihabara Station > Ginza Station > Godzilla Statue > Hibiya Park > Matsuya Ginza Mall > Tsukiji Sushitei Restaurant, Ginza > Mitsukoshi Ginza Mall > Chuo Dori Street > Uniqlo, Ginza > Muji, Ginza > Tokyo Station

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