Worth a Trip: Tsukuda-jima & Tsukishima
Where Harumi-dōri meets Kachidoki-bashi, there's a pleasant riverside walkway that runs past St Luke's International Hospital to Tsukuda Ohashi. Across this bridge, on the left side, is Tsukuda-jima (Island of Cultivated Rice Fields), a charming neighbourhood with traditional shops, such as Tenyasu Honten selling tsukudani (seafood, seaweed and meat preserved in a mixture of soy sauce, salt and sugar). There's also a small, old Shintō shrine, Sumiyoshi-jinja, and the attractive red-railed Tsukudako-bashi over a tidal inlet that is a popular filming location for TV shows and movies.
South of the Tsukuda Ohashi is Tsukishima, where the main shopping street – Monja-dōri – and the surrounding side streets are famous for their many restaurants serving the savoury dish monjayaki. Similar to the pancake okonomiyaki, monjayaki is a Tokyo original with a looser, scrambled-egg-like texture. Monja Kondō, in business since 1950, is said to be the area's oldest dedicated monja restaurant. It offers some 90 different toppings you can add to the basic mix, and the staff will help you get the hang of making monjayaki at your own table grill.
With other commercial areas of Tokyo smartening up their act, Ginza – long the city's ritziest shopping destination – has been going all out to update its retail infrastructure and surroundings. Hot on the heels of 2016's openings of Tōkyū Plaza Ginza (http://ginza.tokyu-plaza.com) and Ginza Place (http://ginzaplace.jp) comes Ginza Six, the area's biggest luxury mall. Opened in April 2017, the complex includes international and local top-brand shops, restaurants, a 4000-sq-metre rooftop garden with great views and Kanze Nōgakudō, a theatre specialising in nō dramas. Digital and contemporary art feature in the public areas.
Up until just after the 2020 Olympics, on the corner of Sukiyabashi crossing will be the innovative public space Ginza Sony Park. At ground level greenery flourishes as 'plant hunter' Seijun Nishihata displays giant specimens from around the world – all for sale. Below ground are four levels hosting a variety of pop-up events and places to eat and drink. From autumn 2020, Sony will start building its new showroom here.
Ginza & Shiodome's Clocks
Ginza's most famous clock is the one that has graced the department store Wako, since 1932. However, there are a couple more clocks in the vicinity that are worth searching out.
Studio Ghibli's animation director Miyazaki Hayao collaborated with sculptor Kunio Shachimaru on the steampunk style NI-Tele Really Big Clock beside the entrance to Nippon Television Tower. Four times daily (with an extra morning show on weekends) various automaton elements spring to life as this fantastic creation strikes the hour and plays a jolly tune. Return in the evening to see the clock illuminated.
Also bathed by coloured lights at night is Young Clock Tower in Sukiyabashi-kōen. Okamoto Tarō created this sculptural clock tower four years before his famed Tower of the Sun sculpture for the 1970 expo in Osaka.