For many, Japanese cuisine may be symbolized by the wildly popular sushi; but many overlook another distinctly Japanese and widely appreciated gourmet in Tempura. In fact, surveys asking visitors their favorite Japanese menus regularly list the popular fried comfort food at or near the top. Below, we have lined up the very best of Japan’s Tempura offerings in Ginza’s 4 of go-to Tempura destinations; a selection of long-standing, gourmand-frequented, incredible experiences for the food-conscious.
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~Lessons from a Star-Studded Sister; Luxurious Low-Carb ‘Kushi-Katsu’ Fried Skewers~
Osaka’s 1-Star Kushikatsu Bon, famous for bringing a Japanese layman’s classic to the world in a surprise export to Paris, comes to Ginza, Japan’s highest of food-laden corridors. With a far-reaching network of sources, Bon selects the best of every day’s bounty; Bluefin-Tuna from luxury seafood broker Yamasachi and chateaubriand cuts from Yamagata brand beef Shimofuri-Wagyu-Obanazawa line its shelves, ready to be spun into its specials, from the ‘Seafood Special’ of shrimp, scallop and snapper, to foie gras and other fried skewered delicacies. Enjoy a healthy yet satisfying meal enabled by an original blend of ‘panko’ breadcrumbs and low-carb frying oil alongside selected wines from Kenzo Estate; with both counter and private seating available in its modern-Japanese interior, Ginza’s Bon is a perfect setting for any memorable occasion, from family dinner to uptight reception.
・Address: 8-2-8, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
・Hours: Lunch:12:00~14:00 (Last admission 13:00) Dinner:17:30~23:00 (Last admission 21:00)
・Directions: 6-minute walk from Shimbashi Station (Exit Ginza), JR Yamanote Line
~Taste the Seasons in a Course of Meticulously Crafted Tempura~
Shunkeian Arakaki’s owner-chef Kaname Arakaki, a veteran of 30-plus years at various Tokyo establishments, crowned his kingdom ‘Shunkeian’ with the hope of creating a ‘small, cozy destination offering exquisite tastes of the season’s fruits’. Owing to the chef’s background, Shunkeian offers an intriguing menu featuring a variety of Okinawan staples alongside the specialte Tempura and other bite-size delicacies. The chef’s course features 2 fares of tempura, with originals such as ‘yuba’ soybean curd-wrapped matured seaperch dotting the seasonal selection of 7 pieces. The finale, a choice of shrimp tempura bowl or ‘ochazuke’, and the dessert, a brown-sugar flan, are also guilty of repeating guests. Savor the chef’s seasonal, locale-focused menu alongside a rotating list of sakes, wines, whiskeys, and ‘awamori’ Okinawa spirits, all selected for their affinity with Shunkeian’s famous tempura. The tiny 7-seat counter welcomes all with a warm glow; for a relaxing and inspiring elegant dining experience, do try Arakaki’s Shunkeian.
・Address: 3-5-10, Minato, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
・Hours: 18:00~19:30 (Last entry)
・Directions: 5-minute walk from Exit 7 of Shintomichō Station on the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho line
~Simplicity at its Best; Ingredients’ Flavors Make or Break~
10 years into its existence as an anchor of Nishi-Shimbashi’s Tempura scene on the outskirts of Ginza, Osaka remains true to its soul. Selected seasonal ingredients personally picked out every morning at nearby Tsukiji market, fried perfectly in a smooth blend of cottonseed and sesame oils. Nothing more, nothing less, not an ingredient wasted; good old tempura, pure and simple. Bite through the light crunchy crust into the tasteful, steaming hot insides; enjoy the full breadth of flavors bursting from each ingredient, then add a pinch of pink pakistani rock-salt for to discover additional layers of savory goodness. The interior, of mostly counter seating illuminated with a warm glow, is not roomy, but reminisces of home; good for dates, receptions, and casual lunches with friends, Tempura Osaka has an expression for all uses.
・Address: 2-13-16, Nisisinbasi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
・Hours: [Weekdays] Lunch: 11:15~14:00 Dinner: 17:30~23:00 (L.O. 21:00) [Saturdays] Dinner: 17:00~23:00 (L.O. 21:00)
・Directions: 5-minute walk from Toranomon station (Exit 1), Ginza Line
~Tempura for a Lifetime at a Cozy 6-Counter Home~
2 minutes from Ginza 1-chome, the center of the Ginza-Kyobashi area, on the first floor of a small freestanding home, is the nondescript yet mature Tenharu. With an interior reminiscent of a Japanese tea room, of a mere 6 counter seats at the cypress single-plane centerpiece, the restaurant may be tiny but exudes an elegant grandeur. Chef Eguchi, a veteran of many a 5-star hotel restaurant and embassy kitchen, serves a traditional Japanese course focusing on his specialite, tempura. Using the season’s finest ingredients to exquisitely decorate his antique tableware, the chef’s technique and care is apparent in each and every course; the menu, crafted piece by piece with particular attention to ‘change’ in both flavor and texture, tells a story unto itself. Tenharu’s tiny capacity and acceptance of one group per lunch and evening allows for groups starting from 4 to book the entire venue; whilst this focus on each and every guest channels the tea-ceremony essence of ‘Ichiza-Konryuu’, it also makes the mature destination perfect for various uses, from formal to personal.
・Address: 1-6-7, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
・Hours: Lunch:12:00~15:00(Last admission 13:30) Dinner:18:00~23:00(Last admission 21:30)
・Directions: 1-minute walk from Ginza 1-chome Station(Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line)
Ginza’s Main Street, the internationally renowned symbol of the centuries-old high-end commercial district, led to the proliferation of local ‘~~Ginza’ streets at the heart of many a regional town across Japan. Today, foreigners and locals alike flock to the multinational brand boutiques that line the street, especially on the weekends when, as since 1970, an expansive stretch is zoned as a pedestrian paradise.
Address: 1-chome~8-chome, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
A Kabuki-only theater established in 1889, the Kabuki-za is located just a few minutes walk from the bustling Ginza 4-chome crossing. The anchor of Kabuki-style traditional theatre, it has remained throughout the Imperial Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras as well as the postwar Showa and current Heisei periods as the pillar of the art as it evolved, integrating new techniques and trends in refining its existence to adjust to newer times. As only the best perform at the Kabuki-za stage, the titles staged too tend to be those traditionally famous and popular. However, in recent times the theatre has adjusted to adopt its international following, with an optional foreign language guide to assist those not fluent in Japanese; hence, we would highly recommend attending a staging or two of Japan’s traditional arts during your stay, with Kabuki not being the least of them.
Address: Ginza 4-12-15, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
The headquarters of Wako, the spun-off retail wing of luxury watch and accessories giant Seiko, the ‘Ginza Wako’ building, as it is affectionately called, is a cultural and historical icon. Worth a rumored almost 100 billion USD in the frenzy days of the ‘Japanese Miracle’, the luxury retailer is still frequented by the famous and affluent for a variety of commercial uses, and also often hosts a diverse array of events at its 6th floor art gallery ‘Wako Hall’. Of course, being at the heart of Ginza’s iconic 4-chome crossing, thousands of visitors choose to meet, greet, and be merry on the Wako’s premises as well, and as an 86-year old timepiece overlooking Ginza’s glorious days, the building is currently a Heritage of Modern Industrialization, as designated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.
Address: 4-5-11 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
The Mitsukoshi Department Store, one of the last remaining domestic luxury full-range retail giants, is a postwar icon symbolizing the consumerization of Japan’s modern economy. A hallmark of the Ginza strip sitting right across fellow icon ‘Wako’, Mitsukoshi is a much-loved shopping destination dating several centuries in enterprise history, and its modern day rendition in the heart of Ginza boasts a total 16 floors of high-end restaurants, 200+ fashion boutiques, and the largest cosmetics retail floor space in the area. The complex also has multiple rest stops for those tired from the stresses of shopping and walking, with a variety of neat cafes and a 9th floor ‘Ginza Terrace’ overlooking the street to complete the perfect elegant afternoon.
Address: 4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Designed by the decorated architect Kisho Kurokawa and built in 1972 as the world’s first capsule-style apartment-housing complex, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is renown as both an emblem of Kurokawa’s early works, and a symbol of the postwar ‘Metabolism’ architectural movement spearheaded by him and his peers. The ‘capsules’, round-window bestowed rectangular blocks, are each tiny and minimalistic yet functional living quarters; the tower’s concept allows for the addition and subtraction of these capsules in tandem with the population’s organic movements, a revolutionary architectural idea. Hence, despite the inconvenience and growing concerns over durability, the tower itself is a much-loved cultural icon, with many owners using it as office or second home. Until recently, the joys of living in these quarters were known only to owners; however, with the advent of Airbnb, it has become increasingly popular as a short-term destination for fans and visitors, especially since its demolishing has been decided for a date not too far away.
Address: 8-16-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
・Taxi drivers are increasingly capable regarding English, so it may be worth an attempt.
・As long as you know your destination address, the taxi's on-board navigation will do the rest.
Train System Pointers
・Japan's Railways run almost perfectly on-time, so calculating transit times is easy.
・Signs and announcements are multilingual; when in doubt, just listen or see.
・Tokyo's subway system can be difficult to navigate; if lost, officials at the ticket gates are willing to help.
・Japan is a safe country; traveling with small children and strollers will be perfectly fine.
1.Ginza, despite its location in the heart of the city, has a surprising many parks and offers beautiful scenery during cherry-blossom season (Tsukijigawa-Unemebashi Park, Kyobashi Park, Ginza Sakura Avenue, GINZA SIX, etc.）.
2.‘Ginza’ has a decidedly fitting meaning of ‘bustling place’.
3.The origins of ‘Ginza’ lie in the Edo-period mint of silver coins; in 1612, the office in charge of minting silver, originally located in current-day Shizuoka, was moved to its modern-day area in the new capital of Edo (Tokyo).
4.There are studies stating that during the Edo-period (17-19C), the area that is current day Ginza was a peninsula protruding into Tokyo Bay.
5.There are hundreds of locations with the ‘Ginza’ name throughout Japan, but the ‘Ginza’ in Tokyo is the original.
6.The first authentic Indian cuisine restaurant, run by an Indian native, opened its doors in Ginza in 1949.
7.The ‘gunkan-maki’ style of sushi, where the topping is held in place on top of the rice not due to the chef pressing the two together but with a wall of nori seaweed, commonly seen with pieces of ‘ikura (salmon roe)’ or ‘uni (sea urchin)’, was first invented in Ginza.