So you thought Tokyo had only one Ginza? Well, there’s another much less glamorous Ginza with its own claim to fame.

“Ginza” is actually a quite common name given to streets in Japan. There are more than 300 Ginza throughout Japan, and four others just in Tokyo. However, Togoshi Ginza is touted not just as the longest Ginza in Japan, but the longest shopping street in Tokyo.

Dog in pram on Togoshi Ginza
The Lord of Togoshi surveys his domain | Photo by Gregory Lane

What’s a “shopping street” you ask? In Japanese, it’s known as a shōtengai—a town market street that is typically closed to traffic. Many are located in close proximity to railway stations and some (like those in Asakusa, and many in Osaka) are covered.

A kamaboko fish cake shop
A local shop selling kamaboko (fish cake) | Photo by Gregory Lane

Togoshi Ginza isn’t covered, but it is very, very long—1.3 km long to be exact. Sprinkled along its length are approximately 400 different shops. From used furniture shops, to model shops, pharmacies, izakaya, cafes and supermarkets.

Two women enjoying a refreshment on Togoshi Ginza
Photo by Gregory Lane

So what’s the appeal? Togoshi Ginza does not have high fashion, gourmet food, amazing architecture (besides Togoshi Ginza Station), cutting-edge design or high technology, but it is quaint, and respresentative of the typical shopping street that most Japanese experience on a daily basis. Flashy developments in the middle of Tokyo get all the attention, but Togoshi Ginza is the place where real people go to buy a new laundry pole or a 16-pack of toilet paper.

The start of Togoshi Ginza from the east
The eastern end of Togoshi Ginza is quiet | Photo by Gregory Lane

The food available along Togoshi Ginza is also of the honest-folk variety. There is even a big open shop that looks a bit like a sushi bar, but they sell custom-made onigiri—a much more modest combo of rice, nori and various fillings.

Togoshi Ginza Station
Togoshi Ginza Station looks “heritage”, but it was recently rebuilt to match the character of the area. | Photo by Gregory Lane

When coming to Togoshi Ginza, the handiest station is Togoshi Ginza on the Tokyu Ikegami Line—a cute three-carriage train that runs between Gotanda and Kamata. Alighting at Togoshi Ginza puts you near the western end of the shopping street. Togoshi Station on the Asakusa Line is slightly to the east of Togoshi Ginza Station on the busy Daini-Keihin Avenue which dissects the Togoshi Ginza shopping street.