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Why is Ginza called Ginza?

In Japanese History on May 3, 2013 at 1:09 am

銀座
Ginza (Silver Guild, more at Silver Mint)

After a fire destroyed the area in 1872, the Meiji government used the opportunity to make Ginza the epitome of modernization. It feels like a western city, not a castle town.

After a fire destroyed the area in 1872, the Meiji government used the opportunity to make Ginza the epitome of modernization. It feels like a western city, not a castle town.

I’m happy to take requests, if you have a Tōkyō place name that you’re curious about. Recently I was asked about Ginza.

I’m going to give a brief explanation of the etymology and then refer you to Ginza’s official English website which has a fantastic page on the history of area.

Ginza is made of two characters:
gin silver
za literally “seat,” or in this case it refers to something like a guild or association

In Nihonbashi, there was another guild, 金座 kinza gold guild.

Basically this was the area where the shōgunate minted silver coins.

If you want to know more about the history of the area, please check out Ginza’s official website. They have a fantastic article about the history of the area here.

Ginza - were east met west in a typically Meiji way. I love this print. Just amazing!

Ginza – were east met west in a typically Meiji way. I love this print. Just amazing!

 

 

 

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  1. Thanks for another great post! So long as you’re taking requests, I know it’s not the most famous neighborhood or anything, but when I first did study abroad in Japan, I stayed in Shakujii 石神井。 Could you do a post about the meaning/origin of the placename Shakujii? Or, Nerima 練馬? 4649!

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      I actually have Nerima on my to do list! I’ll bump it up to the top for you.

      石神井公園…. interesting kanji.
      I’ll add it to my list now!

  2. Interesting. Now I know exactly where my old silver Meiji-era yen coin came from. Thanks!

    • I think the Meiji Government shut down the Ginza mint and established a modern, western style mint in Ōsaka in 1871. It’s likely your Meiji Era coin, if it’s a western style coin, was produced in Ōsaka and not Tōkyō.

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