Capture Tokyo: Ginza Six

Ginza Six, Ginza

Last weekend I recently had a chance to visit the new department store that opened up in Ginza this past April, Ginza Six.The popular new complex features high-end brands (both international domestics) along with restaurants on the 6th and 13th floor, with a traditional Japanese Noh theatre on the bottom floor.

I went on Saturday and I was surprised at how packed it was! There were security guards stationed to usher people into the building, and there were even long lines of people waiting to use the escalators. I wasn’t able to do much shopping, but I was able to see a small but beautiful Japanese bonsai exhibit on the top floor stationed in Tsutaya. For those of you who are new to Japan, Tsutaya is a popular dvd/cd/book chain store. There were around 7-10 bonsai plants of various sizes and different varieties in the exhibit. I believe the more expensive and larger trees had a price range of 10,000 USD and up. I’m not sure how long the exhibit will be running, but I would definitely recommend checking it out if you are ever in the area!

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Taste Tokyo: Uogashi Meicha

Uogashi Meicha, Ginza

For all you tea lovers out there, I’d like to introduce you to a cute little tea shop featured on NHK in Ginza, Uogashi Meicha. While the cafe specializes in Japanese green teas, they also hold small tea ceremony workshops once a month. The cafe is split into 3 levels. The first level is the tea shop, which features a variety of high quality teas. The second is a tea cafe for the shop’s patrons, while the top floor is where the workshops are held. We were lucky enough to visit the day the cafe was putting on a free workshop for its visitors.

The workshop had a unique concept. We were free to brew and mix the matcha or a special type of Japanese green tea ourselves, and instead of drinking what I brewed, I was to give my tea to the person who came before me to drink (whether that be a stranger or an acquaintance). They would then drink my tea accompanied with adorable little tea chocolates given by the cafe, while I waited for the person behind me to brew my tea. It wasn’t a strict traditional ceremony, but more of an informal gathering, so luckily we weren’t required to follow all the intricate mannerisms and customs of the Japanese tea ceremony. It was a nice opportunity to experience matcha mixing and tasting. It’s also perfect for those traveling alone too, because it allows you to interact with different people you would otherwise never meet!

After the workshop, we were invited to the second floor cafe to relax and taste more of the teas they had to offer. I think they must’ve served us at least 4 cups of tea (2 cold and 2 hot) along with Azuki bean Yokan (a traditional Japanese jelly dessert)! I was all tea-ed out by the end! Despite the slight overdoes on caffeine, it was overall a very lovely experience. The last time I had been to a Japanese tea ceremony was in high school, and it was a very traditional one, so this was a nice casual way to appreciate Japanese tea again. Plus, the whole experience was free (although we did end up buying a bag of tea on the way out)!