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Ginza

Listed under Shopping in Tokyo, Japan.

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A shopping experience where people queue politely for several hundred metres round the corner for access to a new shop, guarded across the road by guards in stern blue army type uniforms with TaskForce embroidered on them, and no one crosses the road until the lights turn green – despite the equal politeness of the vehicular traffic? What, no pushing and cat fighting for the best bargain or fighting with the shop assistant to purchase the one in the window but at a discount price? No streets lined with stroppy boyfriends, or people fighting through the crowds with their umbrellas? Where's the fun in that? Apparently it's in the clean, shining stores, artfully designed with maximum architectural appeal by the looks of in, off which neon lights dance and flash or the sun reflects. Apparently the lack of competition doesn't take the buzz off the feeling of materialism satisfied – well how could it when the whole experience is made so easy and pleasurable.

The whole area is a materialistic mecca designed to please. Premium brands like Dior, Chanel and Tiffanys line up sparkling beside fashion staples like Zara and H&M and there are lovely chocolate or Japanese sweet stores, geta (Japanese wooden flip flops) and lots of handbags. Smaller local brands as well as a huge selection of boutique international brands can be found in the gleaming department stores. A grid of cross streets offers an even larger selection that you can only see after you're acclimatised to the dazzle of the lights and high end items, but only one street over is the Sony store – the one with the gaming section on the fifth floor which allows you to play the latest games all day for free. The alleys between the streets are avenues of red lanterns, meaning 'Get your sushi, soba, udon, katsu or ramen here. The only forseeable problem is the lack of coffee – there's a couple of Starbucks and some local chains (which are really Starbucks-es which have closed and re-opened under a different name.

If you hate shopping because of the primal instincts people can display when hunting a bargain then Ginza is the shopping destination for you. Just keep to the left hand side of the pavement, wait at the lights to cross, dress in your classiest attire, put on your polite face and leave your claws behind and you'll fit right in. The big department stores don't have food courts or cafes that I noticed but they sure put on a spread of beautiful treats in all the colours of the rainbow and nations of the world. My advice – go with the biggest queue – the local Ginza-istas know the score on both where to shop and how to keep themselves sustained through long, patient, graceful shopping jaunts.

Written by  Kat Mackintosh.

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