Best Sunamachi Ginza Street Foods for a Taste of Old Tokyo

By Ashley Owen
Updated: March 31, 2021

Sunamachi Ginza is a traditional Tokyo shotengai (shopping street) in the eastern part of the city. It’s filled with specialty shops and family-run businesses selling all sorts of interesting goods, from kitchenware and crockery to teas, sweets, and pickles. Plus of course, there are plenty of vendors serving delicious, freshly-cooked meals and snacks to enjoy!

In this video, we join Shizuka Anderson as she wanders the length of this charming street where time seems to slow down, and samples some of the best Sunamachi Ginza street food on offer.

Sunamachi Ginza Street Food in Tokyo’s Nostalgic Shitamachi Neighborhood

Sunamachi Ginza Shopping Street stretches for 670 meters and is a true old-fashioned shitamachi area. Literally translating to "downtown," here, "shitamachi" refers to the eastern side of Tokyo where craftsmen and merchants lived during the Edo period.

It has a really down-to-earth vibe, and the people who live and work in the area still champion traditional Japanese culture. As you can see in the video, this makes Sunamachi Ginza a perfect spot to visit if you want to experience a totally different side of Tokyo life.

Tempura restaurant in Sunamachi Ginza

Shizuka’s first stop on her tour is a traditional tempura store, where she tries their freshly-fried kakiage, mixed vegetable and seafood tempura. Piping hot and packed with juicy shrimp and crispy onions, it’s a perfect example of Sunamachi Ginza street food! There’s also a restaurant out back serving tendon (tempura rice bowls) and other dishes for those who prefer a sit-down meal.

Display in a shop front selling different bags of traditional Japanese sweets such as amanatto

Next, a cute store packed with authentic Japanese sweets catches Shizuka’s eye. From amanatto (soft, sugared beans) to candied sweet potatoes, there are lots of interesting snacks to try. Shizuka opts for gokabo rice cakes, a sweet that originates from Saitama prefecture. These cylindrical cakes are filled with chewy rice and coated in kinako (roasted soybean powder) for a really old-school Japanese flavor.

Close up image of a gokabo rice cake with a bite taken

Some of the other Sunamachi Ginza street food she tries include a unique tuna cutlet, Chinese dumplings known as shumai, and a yasaiman (steamed vegetable bun).

Yasaiman: a close-up of a Japanese steamed bun

Finally, the tempting smoky scent of yakitori beckons Shizuka to try tender, skewered tebasaki chicken wings to round off her trip!

Aside from all the delicious treats, one of the most memorable aspects of Sunamachi Ginza is the warm atmosphere created by the friendly shopkeepers who work here, making it easy to see why it’s such a lovely place to explore!

Join a street food tour of Sunamachi Ginza!

Want to experience the nostalgic and captivating atmosphere of Sunamachi Ginza shopping street for yourself? Join the Sunamachi Ginza Street Food Tour!

For 3.5 hours you can immerse yourself in the Tokyo of old, exploring the area’s traditional shops and meeting warm and friendly local people. You’ll also get to try some authentic home-cooked Japanese dishes and street food such as yakitori, tempura, matcha tea, and oden – plus of course some classic Japanese sweets! To round off the tour, your group will celebrate in style with some sake during a fun kanpai party in the street.

Hungry for more Japanese street food? Check out our video guides to Nakano Broadway and Sun Mall, Tsukiji Outer Market, and Musashi Koyama Shotengai Palm!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Ashley Owen
Ashley is a freelance travel writer from the UK who spent the last two years living in Japan, and is about to embark on her next adventure to New Zealand. She's always on the lookout for exciting new vegan treats wherever she goes!
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