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Ginza

GinzaGinza is Shopping district in central tokyo, which mean Gin - Silver, Za - place.

The history of Ginza is deeply intertwined with the Westernization of Japan. In 1872 a massive fire leveled buildings along Ginza (Ginza means "silver seat"), providing the perfect opportunity for the Meiji government to rebuild Ginza as the showpiece of modern Japan. The government hired English architect Thomas Waters to rebuild the street in brick?a novel materiel for the Japanese. However, the brick town was more successful as an eye-catcher than as usable space, since Japanese buildings were typically light, airy, and open.

As an eye-catcher, the street grew in popularity. Trees such as cherry, maple, pine, and oaks had been planted along the streets, but these were replaced with willows, which became somewhat symbolic of Ginza as a whole. In 1882, arc lights and a horse-trolley were installed and the Ginza began to become popular as a high-class retail area?a distinction that it still holds today.

Most visitors to Ginza came only to windowshop, as the goods on display were far too expensive. The area attracted young, modern men and women who were there more to be seen than to shop. The term "Ginbura", or ginza-cruising, was invented in the 1920s during the Taisho era when the Westernization of social values reached a peak (traditional values were reasserted as Japan approached World War 2).

In 1923 the Great Kanto earthquake struck, leveling Ginza to the ground. One of the most prominent buildings destroyed was the Hattori Clock Tower, which had been build by Hattori Kintaro, founder of the company that would one day become Seiko Corporation. After the earthquake, the Wako department store was rebuilt on the site, quickly becoming as important a landmark as its predecessor. In the rest of the area as well, reconstruction proceeded quickly, and soon Ginza was humming with life again. A subway line was built through the area in the mid 1920s, adding to the crowds and the cosmopolitan scene.

Ginza lost some of its edginess during World War 2, when consumer goods were less available and traditional social roles were strongly promoted by the authoritarian government. Ginza itself was leveled near the end of the war, along with Tokyo, when Allied aircraft made a firestorm of the city. After World War II, Ginza again re-emerged as one of the finest shopping areas in Tokyo. When the above photos were taken, in 1987, Japan was near the peak of its economic "bubble". Even though the economy of Japan is struggling these days, Ginza remains a consumer's paradise filled with bright lights, expensive goods, and fashionable shoppers

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